Derek Gentile: Like drunken driving, New Year's Eve bashes out of fashion


PITTSFIELD >> I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, and he observed that there aren't too many big New Year's Eve bashes in the Berkshires any more.

I know many local restaurants still offer dinner specials, which isn't quite the same thing.

But the days of the big blowout are over. I confess I don't miss them.

Oh, the parties were fine, but it was the aftermath that was always a bit vexing. Too much alcohol combined with trying to maneuver a large, gas-powered vehicle along the winding roads of Berkshire County in early winter was always an adventure.

It's still an issue, of course. We have a dangerous attraction to alcohol, which we consider the proper drink for celebrations.

The late comedian Sam Kinison had a good line about the attitudes of people a generation and more ago: "We're going to drink and we're going to drive and we're going to pull it off."

And yeah, most people did. But too many didn't. And if you were a reporter working New Year's Day, and you made the morning police checks, you did it with a certain sense of dread.

It was especially tough if you knew the victim or the family. It has happened to me several times, and maybe it explains my relief at the reduction of the big, institutional shindigs.

When I think of this issue, I think of the character of Otis, the intoxicated man who regularly jailed himself on the Andy Griffith Show. Now we know Otis needed therapy and maybe an intervention. I wonder how he would have turned out if someone had steered him to AA?

And could Foster Brooks, the 1960s comic whose entire act was to pretend to be drunk, have gotten very far on Last Comic Standing? Probably not.

There aren't any revelatory points in this diatribe. Sometimes I just have something I want to get off my chest. I just hope all my friends and readers enjoyed New Year's Eve, whatever you all did.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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