At an unnamed bar somewhere in the middle of Anytown, America, in the late hours of December 31, 2012, a group of New Year's Resolutions were finishing up their drinks, deep in conversation. Well, except Try to Be Healthier, who'd gone home to "get a good night's sleep and start 2013 right" but who was really just sitting on the couch in his walkup apartment staring at the TV and willing himself to wash his face and get into bed. In the bar, though, talk was percolating! There was still an hour to go until midnight, that clock strike that would send all the resolutions scooting back home to their resolvers, those humans who'd willed them into being but were very likely to quash them within the first two weeks of January. It was a tenuous situation, but our Resolutions were not afraid (save Approach Life Situations More Courageously, who shivered in a corner with his eyes nearly closed, holding his puffy coat tightly to his torso, as the others spoke). They'd been here before.
Boost My Fitness Goals and Achieve Them, a barrel-chested resolution clad in a pair of baggy shorts over running pants and moisture-wicking socks tucked into five-fingered running shoes, spoke in a whine, given his exhaustion from the day's endeavors. "My resolver thinks I'm make out of energy bars, or something," he said, flexing an arm as if to prove he was not. "Can I get a night off once in a blue moon? I am more than just lunges and squats, 24 hours a day!"
Be Less Timid cleared his throat, nervously. "You appear to have a night off now," he said, "and you're not squatting or lunging." The loud, drawn-out sigh of Lose 10 (or Maybe 15!) Pounds by February meant that no one except Be a Better Listener really heard Timid's legitimate point, however. "I was really hoping for that diet where you get to eat whatever you want at least one day a week," she complained. "No cigar; I'm on egg whites and fat-free cottage cheese, with occasional bites of celery, for the duration. Gag. I hate celery."
"She could always change her mind," offered up The Resolution Made and Promptly Forgotten. "I barely even know who I am at this point. In 2010, I was Get a Job. The next year, Straighten the Sock Drawer. In 2012, Drink Less, at Least for a Little While. This year, I think I'm Spend Less Money on Frivolous Things, except I might have been swapped at the last minute for Stop Making Resolutions I Can't Keep, which, like, what does that even mean?" Stop Being So Gender Normative interrupted: "Why do you presume the resolver of Lose 10 (or Maybe 15!) Pounds is a woman? Men go on diets, too!"
"Sorry," said The Resolution Made and Promptly Forgotten, swigging his gin and tonic and rolling his eyes. Stop Being So Gender Normative stomped away in a huff, causing Take Things Less Seriously and Try to Have Fun Now and Again in a Casual Manner to break into nervous giggles. Date More leaned in close and whispered in his ear, "What's so funny, cowboy?" causing him to lose the giggles, jump from his barstool, and make a beeline for the bathroom. Oblivious, Cook More at Home finished her Tupperware container of leftover pasta and set it on the bar with a flourish. "It's nearly midnight, you guys!" she said. "Who's up for one last round?"
Talk to People, Not Devices perked his head up from his iPhone. "Me!" The crowd had thinned, though not as much as Lose 10 (or Maybe 15!) Pounds would in the next four weeks. There was a smattering of old regulars: Join a Gym, and Go to It; Finally Get the Nerve to Ask for a Promotion/Raise; Buy a House or Apartment; Fall in Love, But Seriously This Time; Write More. Quit Caffeine was slugging his last rum and Diet Coke of the year. Quit Going After the Wrong Men/Women had never even come out, daring to leave nothing to chance, and Go on Long Walks had just left for another 8-mile jaunt through the forests and streams, accompanied by Do More for the Environment. Quit Smoking was outside smoking, but Be Happy was there, grinning up a storm, and so was Work Harder; Dump My Therapist; Get Published, Even If It's in a Tiny Literary Journal That Doesn't Pay; Stop Being So Down on Myself All the Time; Be Nicer to the People I Care About; Volunteer!; and Get My Questionable Moles Checked. It was a party.
"Cheers!" cried the Resolutions, letting their disparate voices mingle harmoniously before tossing their top-shelf tequila shots — "anything but Champagne!" Don't Let This New Year's Eve Be Like Last Year's had insisted — into their opened mouths in one last hurrah before things started getting real (albeit perhaps temporarily), or less real than ever.
It was time to say goodnight. In between the hugs and kisses and firm handshakes and backs slapped, before they all went their separate ways, Boost My Fitness Goals and Achieve Them spoke again, his words beginning to slur. "See you all here for the meetup in February? By then, if history is any indication, they'll have mostly forgotten about us and we can go back to the business of being, you know, normal."
The word normal was met with applause by most of the remaining crowd (Handle My Anger Better let out an ear-piercing shout and punched a wall for good measure). "Normal. Thank goodness," said Do More Yoga, who had held a perfect lotus pose the entire night and was still in it. "I can't wait to slouch." "Me, too," said Better Posture. "Me. Too."
Happy New Year, to your Resolutions and you.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.