The North Georgia mountains are cold tonight. I am inside a cabin with my wife. It’s late. Music is playing. I am watching a fireplace.

We are minutes away from a new year, I am keeping an eye on the clock. Nobody here is watching the Time Square ball drop on TV. For one thing, there is no television in these remote woods. For another, you can’t replace Dick Clark.

But there is a record player. I am listening to Ray Charles sing. My wife and I are drinking glasses of magnesium citrate because my wife’s favorite sport is taking vitamins.

I know we should be drinking champagne, or beer, or something fun. But it’s just too dang late. We are middle-aged people who don’t even eat spicy foods past 5 P.M. anymore.

So we drink fizzy magnesium which my wife forces down my gullet each night because it helps with “regularity.” And she wants me to be a “regular guy,” if you catch my drift. My wife stole this particular concern directly from my mother’s playbook.

When I was

younger, New Year’s Eve was a wild holiday. Mainly because ever since my teenage years I played barroom music after hours. On New Year’s, anyone who owned a guitar played a party.

Thus, every December 31st of my adult life was spent with a band on a rinky-dink stage, playing for people in sparkly hats.

We used to play some big shindigs. We wore neckties, sang until morning, and the money was always good. When the clock struck midnight, we would play “Auld Lang Syne.” Whereupon the guys in the band would hug each other and make deeply emotional remarks like, “How much will you pay me to drink bourbon out of Mike Brahm’s shoe?”

“Ten bucks.”

“I’ll pay twenty if you do Fireball.”

“I’ll take that action.”

“Count me in.”

“You can’t plug your nose though.”

Before the night…