I usually wait until October to make my New Year's resolutions. There is a good reason: after all, how much could I possibly change in 90 days?
So when it turns out that I've turned out not to be slender, prolific, soft-spoken, adept at walking in four-inch heels, magnificently self-possessed, fluent in Italian, absurdly wealthy, with three books currently on the bestseller list, and often compared with photos of the young Jacqueline Kennedy, no one is surprised.
Of course, I'm unpleased. I would settle for one-tenth of one of the above.
And yet, there are big payoffs for very low standards. My chagrin is in direct proportion to my achievements. Don't get me wrong. I do not lack in steadfastness. For one whole year, gin did not pass my lips. (This was true of the previous 50 years as well.) And just last year, while I never went public with my vow to stop devoting so many hours to mastering the balalaika, I did manage to stop myself.
Truth is, unless you know The Secret, (or, like Rhonda Byrne, you wrote The Secret, which must have taken some real resolve) one needs extraordinary will — and sometimes extraordinary medication — to stick to resolutions. Usually, the old year rolls rather slumpishly into the new year, sort of like an old pillow, but a little fatter. (Don't get me started.)
Suffice it to say, if I had a nickel for every New Year's resolution I've kept, I'd have four cents.
So why do we do it? As Robert Frost wrote, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall" — be it a wall between ourselves and another, or a wall between ourselves and the selves of our dreams. And so, like marriage, childbirth and 401(k) plans, we continue to hope, and promise, and try. To be human is to resolve the irresolvable.
Still, at this point in our lives, although we're not old, we've seen enough auld lang syne to take a pass on absurdity. So let's not be the ones who, on New Year's Eve, decide:
1. That's it! You heard it here! I've had my last cocktail ever! Maybe a beer, at a picnic …
2. Imagine all those years I spent $5 a day on lattes. I just got a home milk foamer, and it was only $79!
3. OK. It's 12:03 a.m. and I am officially a nonsmoker!
4. Next year, when I pull up my shirt, friends, you will see a six pack just like Hugh Jackman's!
5. No more airport fiction! Every book I read this year is going to be a classic! Leo, Ernest, Virginia, Fyodor. Was it Fyodor? Or was it Theodore? Or Vladimir?