If you’re anything like me, you grew up spending New Year’s Eve watching Dick Clark counting down the famous ball drop in Times Square. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the past few New Year’s avoiding any tv countdown whatsoever, just so you don’t accidentally glance upon Dick's sagging face as you slam your 32nd jello shot.
Now I’m not insensitive. I’m not here to disparage stroke victims. I feel for anybody who’s suffered a stroke and any long-lasting effects. Having a stroke is one of my biggest fears in life. I hope one day science and medicine may be able to do much more to prevent and treat strokes. Maybe you can even help.
But I’m not here to philanthropize, either (I’m sending that one to Merriam-Webster for approval). I’m just here to talk about what everybody is seemingly ignoring: there is an 82-year-old stroke victim on national television hosting the biggest party of the year.
Not everybody is ignoring it. Some people blame the network for dragging him out year after year like a half-melted marionette. Some say that the network is banking off his name and his legend forcing this poor guy out there year after year. Those people say that the network should let him go and live his life in solitude and dignity. They say it’s a shame to see this legend as a weak, frail, feeble old man.
Others say that it’s Clark’s own ego that has kept him coming back to rock in the New Year. They say it’s his name on the show and he isn’t ready to give up the spotlight. He is hanging on to the last shred of fame until it is torn out of his cold, weak, old hands. They say his age and the stroke have made him even more stubborn in his refusal to step down. They say they should let some new, young host take over. They even say it's a bummer to see him during their New Year's parties.
I admit, the year he came back after the stroke, it was tough to watch him slur through the countdown. At 25 years old, I wanted to party care-free and enjoy my own perceived immortality.
But now I'm over 30. A little more flab around the belly, a little less hair on the head. He's still a bit hard to watch, but now I know that Dick Clark is a hero.
I say we need him up there during the biggest party of the night. Nowadays, our sick and elderly are tucked away in assisted living facilities and nice, clean hospitals so us younger folk don't have to think about our impending fate. We watch movies and shows where elderly characters are played by young people in make-up because nobody wants to see an actual old person. Dick Clark is a much-needed dose of reality, during a very surreal event. As we celebrate one more full revolution around the sun by watching a giant silver ball slowly move downward 77 feet, Dick Clark is a constant reminder of the fleeting nature of our existence. Life can be gone, or forever changed, in an instant, oftentimes due to circumstances beyond our control. New Year's should be a time to reflect on our journey through life thus far, and Dick Clark reminds us to enjoy that journey while it lasts, and to hang on tight until the very last drop of life drains from our wrinkled, shriveled bodies.
We need to party, and Dick Clark needs to party with us.
Personally, I hope Dick’s up there for years to come.
Besides, he’s still better than Ryan Seacrest.
I Love You All (especially Dick Clark)…Class Dismissed.