Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Saturday, January 1, 2011

"What's it all about, Alfie?"

I heard a gunshot at midnight, so I guess that was the starting gun for 2011. Up here in the mountains, miles from civilization, we are thankful for that guy with the gun who evidently also has a radio and communication with the outside world. Every year he notifies the natives that it’s time to change calendars. Without our Paul Revere of New Years Eve, how would we know it was New Years Day?

We’re buried in snow up here with more in the forecast. I found a frozen squirrel this morning, so I guess we have meat for a couple of days. We’ve eaten the bark off the trees as far as we can reach, so boiled squirrel is a real treat.

I was so excited about the new year that I forgot to have a drink in celebration. In fact, I went to bed before midnight last night, which is something I very rarely do, but it didn’t seem to make much sense waiting for some sparkling ball to drop in New York while thousands of morons are blowing paper horns and finding orgasmic pleasure in playing with balloons, jumping up and down while screaming and looking at colored lights. I don’t get it.

The year 2010 wasn’t so great, was it? Is 2011 going to be better? Who wants to be another year older, unless you happen to be 20 years old waiting to buy beer or 15 dreaming of driving a car?

They say life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. I don’t like it. It took me this long to finally learn to use the correct date on letters and documents and now they change the date on me. At my age it takes a while to adjust to changes and by that time, the change has changed again. Knock it off! Stop the bus! Turn the bus around. I want to go back to the 50’s!

When I was young, I played in bands on New Year’s Eve. I did this for many years. Too many years. I even got on the microphone and counted down the seconds to the New Year for all the happy celebrants. That was about the time that the musicians were tired and wanted to take a break and get to the buffet table.

So to speed things up, I would sometimes count down the seconds a little early. There was always some guy with an expensive watch who would start yelling that it wasn’t midnight yet and I was wrong, but by that time the audience was already counting down from ten to “Happy New Year” and his protest was buried by the enthusiasm of the throng. I can still see him waving his arms and yelling, “Wait! Wait! Your watch is wrong. Wait!” But he soon disappeared in confetti, balloons and funny hats.

Then we would launch into “Auld Lang Syne” where couples seem to fall in lust until the end of the song and the ride home, when the guy gets chewed out for dancing too close to his secretary. But for that brief instant in time, our music made people romantic. But that’s what we were paid to do. We were just facilitators. Like that last drink that closes the sale.

That song is sad enough, but for me it was even sadder, because my wife or a girlfriend was home alone watching the dingbats in New York on TV, jumping like St. Vitus Dance (look it up), while I’m blowing my horn helping remorseful dancers peel off the negatives of the past year. The optimistic anticipation of midnight plus one second never ceases to amaze me.

“What’s it all about, Alfie?”

I don’t know…maybe I’m getting old. “Hey Gayle! Is that squirrel done yet?”


  1. Gayle fix the squirrel, he deserves it as the curmudgeon (look it up Ralph) of the year, be it 2010 or 2011.

    I'm fortunate in that I seldom even realize whether the last year was good or bad because I have always lived for the future. So welcome 2011 I know it'll be a great year if we pay attention and value our lessons.

    Tanks again Ralph for pushing us to think.

  2. I'm starting to believe you when you say I'm a "curmudgeon". It's just more fun to sound cantankerous (look it up) when I write than to sound blissful, flowery, etc. That wouldn't be any fun. On the other hand, Gayle probably agrees with you. I will admit to being cynical.

    Thanks, Malcolm, for keeping me going on this blog thing. And Happy New Year. I hope you're right about 2011.

  3. Ralph, squirrel is always a lot better if you grind it up and put it in rice with a lot of soy sauce.

    Squirrel won't get you but the sodium might!

    Funny stuff! Keep it coming.

    Ed Wall

  4. Thanks, Ed.

    We've had so much snow up here lately that we can't go anywhere. I think it's driving me nuts. I'll have to try your recipe.