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MARTHA SEZ: Drunk texting makes for a happy new year

December 22, 2016
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

As you know, the end of the year, which occurs right around the time of the winter solstice, is traditionally celebrated with a lot of moping around and hankering after the Good Old Days, enhanced by copious servings of food and drink. Alcoholic beverages, especially, are instrumental in achieving the maudlin mood peculiar to the darkest days and longest nights of the year.

Scottish poet Robert Burns said that his poem, "Auld Lang Syne," meaning "old long since," or "old long ago," was really a very ancient song that he just happened to write down.

You might wonder why nobody ever wrote it down before, but people don't tend to jot down the words to common songs that everybody already knows. When was the last time you jotted down the words to "Happy Birthday"?

We can sing "Happy Birthday" to the New Year if we feel like it. "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday, Baby New Year, happy birthday to you." But first we have to get all worked up and sentimental and drag a lot of old grudges and regrets and heartaches out of the dingy closets where we store them during the year. We air them out and try them on again to see if they still fit.

This won't typically be a clear-eyed assessment, though, because the winter solstice spirit tends to make the eyes a little teary and bleary, aided, as I said, by the alcoholic spirits traditionally imbibed at this time.

Along with fond memories of departed loved ones- whether they departed by dying or just by taking the train-and homesickness for places where we were happy in our youth (although we probably didn't think much of them at the time), there are often bitter grudges and resentments carefully stored up and preserved, in a manner reminiscent of the Korean han tradition.

Han is described as a deep and abiding sense of injustice and desire for revenge, combining grief and rancor and a feeling of helplessness, that is integral to Korean culture. Every little slight or sense that one has been unfairly treated is added to the deep pool of han carried by individuals, and collectively by the Korean population.

They say that Koreans do han better, more thoroughly, than anyone else, having developed it to a fine art, but a lot of other people around the world do all right for amateurs.

Many of us know this from experience, having been on the wrong end of late-night, winter-solstice drunken phone calls. While these conversations may start out sounding affectionate, even effusively so, they tend to go on and on, often growing more belligerent and irrational, as the caller talks and the callee attempts to get off the phone.

Finally, the callee hangs up on the caller, sometimes saying "I'm hanging up now," other times pretending to be cut off. Often the caller will keep calling back and leaving messages, along the lines of "I KNOW you're there, Beatrice."

Fortunately, we have come a long way from the days when we had to just pick up the phone having no idea who was on the other end of the line. It is difficult to even imagine life without caller ID now.

Back in the old days, it was impossible to lose our telephones. We always knew right where they were, plugged into the phone jack in our homes, and when we spoke into the receiver we could travel only as far as the cord allowed.

Nowadays, faced with the difficulties of trapping someone in one of these auld lang syne phone calls, many people are turning to drunk texting instead. While this method of communicating belligerent and/or maudlin sentiments lacks the personal connection of a telephone call, it does have advantages. For one thing, the recipient can't hear the texter's voice and so can't tell for certain whether the texter is inebriated. Also, the texter can feel free to ramble on without fear of interruption or argument.

Afterward, of course, there may be a sort of hangover of regret.

Jack: I'm sorry I was pretty drunk when I wrote to you last night.

Jill: That's all right. I was drunk when I read it.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne

We'll take a cup of kindness yet

For auld lang syne.

Have a good week.



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