I Want A Man Just Like Dick Clark
by Michele Christopher
New Year's Eve, 1992.
I'm eight months pregnant with my second child. The first child, almost three years old, has a raging fever and sinus infection. My then husband has volunteered to take the overnight shift at his job, leaving me home to take care of the sick child on New Year's Eve.
I make little snacks for myself and the daughter to eat while we wait for midnight. Of course, there is no way I'll make it to midnight because I'm completely exhausted. Plus, the only way to forget that I'm so huge that I waddle instead of walk is to sleep. Forget the daughter. She's on some mixture of antibiotics and cold medicine that knocks her out for hours at a time. I wish, not for the first time, that I could throw back a bottle of NyQuil. Hell, Jack Daniels even. I opt for not getting my giant, life-sucking fetus drunk and suffer in silence instead.
After an hour of coloring and a half hearted attempt at doing a craft, I decide to move time forward. I turn the clock ahead, tell the daughter it's midnight, and we celebrate the new year with a toast of sparkling grape juice. I make plans to go cry myself to sleep while thinking about the misery that is my life (cue tiny violins).
Daughter has other ideas. She decides that what she really wants to do is vomit up a pile of medicine, snacks and chocolate milk all over the living room floor. I try not to cry as I attempt to clean it all up. I spend a half hour on my hands and knees scraping puke from the carpet. The daughter has passed out on the couch.
I pick her up while she's sleeping - no small feat for a pregnant woman with sciatica problems- lay her on her bed and change her out of the vomit-covered pajamas. I wash her up and tuck her in and she never flinches, never wakes up even once and I wonder if maybe she's gone into a Triaminic coma or if she's suffering from some killer strain of the flu or a rare, deadly virus that the doctor overlooked, so I stay in her room and make sure her breathing is even and that she responds - even in her sleep - to a pinch on her arm. She does. I feel bad, but love hurts sometimes, you know?
I go back to the living room and clean up the craft supplies and snacks. It's only 8:00. I call my husband at his job to tell him how this night is going but he says he's busy, can't talk and as I go to hang up the phone I hear the sound of a merry party going on in the background. I yell into the receiver: I hope you're having fun! Slam the phone down. Go on the couch and pout (violins again).
I flip through various rocking and rolling New Year's specials. I'm bored. I'm lonely. I wonder what kind of husband Dick Clark would make. I wonder if his wife gets pissed that he's out every New Year's eve, but then I figure that she's probably in the ABC green room munching on caviar and sipping champagne and saying things like "Yes I'm Dick Clark's wife. I'm soooo lucky!"
I fall into a light sleep, sitting up with the remote in my hand, and I dream about the ghosts of New Years past, when midnight meant giant swigs of Boonesfarm wine that someone stole from their father and a joint passed around with Pink Floyd playing in the background and maybe a stolen kiss, even an attempt to get under my shirt, which I respond to with a kick in the shin. If you're not Dick Clark rockin', don't come knockin'. Yea, I always had a thing for Dick. Clark.
10:00 rolls around. Fuck this. I'm going to bed. I call my parents to wish them Happy New Year and I sneak in a few passive/aggressive twinges of self-pity, hoping they'll tell me to pack up the kid and come on over to celebrate with them. But my parents have a long-standing tradition since all of their kids were old enough to be out without a curfew that New Year's Eve, being my father's birthday, is their special night and no one was allowed to interfere with it. My father makes this gourmet dinner and he and mom sit in front of the fireplace and sip wine and enjoy the evening alone. We all comply with their wishes because it's our understanding that this is the only night of the year that my father is able to get some from mom. At least that's what he tells us.
So I get on the phone and whine and cry and tell them I'm going to bed because I just want this year to end and they wish me a Happy New Year and I hang up with my bottom lip trembling as I try to keep from exploding in the biggest fit of self-pity my family has ever seen.
I put on my pajamas. I settle into bed with Dick Clark and the remote. And then I hear the sound of little feet and they aren't pitter pattering, they are running. Full steam. And they are accompanied by the sound of a three year old girl screaming "Moommy! I can't stop the poop! It won't stop!" Oh lord.
I get up and catch her just as she's about to slip in whatever she's trailing behind her. Oh, yes. Diarreah. Bad, bad diarreah, most likely a result of the antibiotics that I assumed she lost with the vomiting episode. Her jammies are brown and drooping. It's running down her legs. I scoop her up and run into the bathroom, throw her in the bathtub. It takes about an hour to clean up the both of us, the kitchen floor and the bathroom. She falls asleep on the living floor, I just fall to the floor in tears.
Dick Clark stares at me from the tv. Stop your crying, woman! Get up and make the most of what you have! Right.
I go back into the bathroom to wash my face and see that the daughter, who insisted on helping me clean the tub and the floor, threw some of the used baby wipes in the toilet. I flush without thinking. The toilet overflows. And overflows. I try to stop it. I use the plunger to no avail. So I do what anyone would do under the circumstance. Maybe. I call my father.
He thinks I've been drinking. Or smoking. He has no idea what I'm talking about and I take his questions as a sign that he doesn't care.
I want my sisters to come take care of me. I call them. They both have plans. Sorry, you've got to deal with the toilet on your own, sis. There is no way I can convey the misery of my evening to them.
I call the husband while I'm cleaning up the toilet overflow (I finally got the water to stop pouring out) and he asks why I can't take care of anything myself. The party goes on in the background. I hear laughing and music. In fact, he interupts me once or twice to laugh at something. He tells me to get a grip and suck it up. I hang up. I cry again.
My mother calls to see how it's going with the toilet. I break out into a long, wailing cry. "Nobody loves me!" I'm now sobbing and my breath is coming in deep heaves. "No...body....loves me! I'm all alone and the toilet won't work and the daughter is losing her lunch from both ends and the baby is kicking me and I smell like poop and vomit and my husband is in New Jersey having the time of his life and I bet Dick Clark would never, ever do this to his wife!"
When I'm finally done, my mother sighs. Fine, come on over. I wrap the daughter in a heavy blanket and we walk across the street to my parent's house. It's 11:00. I fall asleep at 11:10. I miss Dick Clark ushering in the New Year and when I wake the house is dark and my parent's bedroom is closed so I assume that my dad got his yearly present anyhow, which makes me want to throw up just thinking of it and thinking of throwing up makes me relive the whole sordid evening in my head. I curl up next to my daughter, in the room where I used to sleep back in the day. I silently make some resolutions, some that take years to complete, but I do eventually complete them all.
Except for marrying Dick Clark. Who, it turns out, is really a robotron. So I hear.
Michele has not seen midnight since 2003