It’s Auld Lang Syne time again, which brings up several pithy if not pitiful questions:
- What exactly does Auld Lang Syne mean?
- Why do we sing it, other than everyone else does, and we don’t want to seem weirder than we are?
- Did Robert Burns do anything other than write this song and make cigars?
- Where exactly is old Lang’s sign, and why should we be nostalgic about it?
- How old should an acquaintance be before we forget them?
Many hands make light work, so I suggest we divvy up these questions. We could do it alphabetically, or by age, or by zip code. On second thought, you take the first four, and I’ll tackle the last one (although you might find partial answers to the others sprinkled throughout, like multi-colored jimmies on a sundae, or possibly like rock salt on slush – I don’t know, I never was very good at similes. Metaphors, though – zowie, I’m a screamin’ steamin’ freight train at those babies.).
Since we sing Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of the New Year (I mean on the clock, not the medical term – confound it, who can understand this bizarre language anyway?), as we usher in a new year. In this case we also usher in a new decade – no, wait, 2020 is the last year of the old decade, isn’t it? That’s right, because we start counting at one, so the first decade in Anno Domini years would have been years 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. The new decade would start with the year 11. So, if I can skip ahead without having to count from 11 to 2020, we can easily see that 2020 is not a new decade. Rather, it’s the final moldy, stinking, rotting year of the last decade, which we can all agree was wretched. So, in this case, our acquaintance with that decade can definitely be forgotten, assuming we make it through the next year, which I will remind you includes a presidential election, so gird your loins and hide the babies and kittens.
If you’ll remember, this is the same nonsense that led to the confusion, consternation, and bickering over whether the new century and millennium started with 2000 or 2001. Although, fortunately, we can all agree that A Space Odyssey started with 2001.
Come to think of it, that’s twice now I’ve said, “we can all agree.” Of course, these days we can’t all agree on anything, particularly politics. I’m just trying to be optimistic, so work with me, OK? Maybe we can be the change. Or at least, by learning to count correctly, we can MAKE change, which cashiers don’t seem to be able to do any more.
Does anyone else feel like we’re getting off topic? Apologies, I’m modeling this little essay based on my experience in business meetings. Did you just have a nightmarish flashback when I said “essay”? Ah, yes, who can forget the dreaded English teacher, Miss Vader, assigning a 500,000-word essay on cuticles, due tomorrow? Well, she’s just another example of an old acquaintance to forget, even if it takes hypnosis.
Getting our train of thought back on the right track: No, actually, Robert Burns did not make cigars. Someone in advertising evidently thought it made sense to put the name of an 18th century Scottish poet on a Cuban cigar. Maybe they felt sorry for him because he only lived to the age of 37. Of course, he’s much more famous than you or I will ever be, even if we live to 137. At least, that’s my take – you’re welcome to yours.
Switching the train over to an even-more-right track: In starting a new year, it makes sense to use this time to reflect on our past. As we sing Auld Lang Syne (“old long since,” i.e., days gone by) we can ponder those old days, and those old friends, and those old habits. Which ones do we keep? Which ones do we jettison? How much weight should we lose? Or would it be easier to resolve to gain weight? Sounds like a slam-dunk.
Actually, as we get older, I’ve found it’s easier to lose IQ points than pounds avoirdupois. If we could gain IQ points for each pound lost, we might be more inclined to make a respectable effort. Recent political developments seem to indicate that, like last year’s exercise equipment, IQ points often go unused anyway.
In conclusion, don’t forget to send in the answers to the questions you were assigned. I suggest using the cloud, or the fog, or another one of those newfangled technology things. I’m sure I’ll get them.
And so, here’s wishing a happy New Year from the Joe Zone to your zone. And may you never forget the old acquaintances you treasure, including Robert Burns, as you get nostalgic about old Lang’s sign.