Looking back through the lenses of time
The calendar turns.
A new year begins.
And more than a new year—a new decade. Off to the mists of history go the Aughts, or the Naughts, or the Naughtys, or whatever your favored label happens to be for the era just ended.
But first, a moment’s reflection. Before we turn away once and for all, before we bid good riddance to a decade that provided more than its share of pain and suffering, of fear and loathing, we need to pause. We need to remind ourselves that, for some, the 10 years now gone will forever be the Golden Years.
I speak, of course, of the people who invented the goofy New Year’s Eve eyeglasses with the two big zeroes.
What a time it was for them! From Sydney, Australia, to the heart of Times Square, each Dec. 31 the crowds would gather, filled with anticipation, and lubrication. And each year, as the magic moment approached and the cameras panned the crowd, there they’d be, by the hundreds, by the thousands: those goofy eyeglasses with the two big zeroes in the middle.
2005! 2008! 2003! 2006! Just speaking the numbers brings the whole jumble of New Year’s memories racing back, doesn’t it? (A little less lubrication and you might even be able to put them in the right order.) You should have sensed that there was something special afoot back at the very beginning: the Year 2000, with its two big zeroes in the middle and an extra one on the side, just in case.
How many high-fashion, perfect-for-the-spotlight colors did those glasses come in over the years? How many vats of synthetic goop were melted and molded, then sprinkled with sparkles and sent on their way to hearty-party types on every continent?
You can sing the praises of the puke-green foam-rubber Statue of Liberty headband crowns if you want to, but that was mostly a New York thing. The goofy eyeglasses with the two big zeroes in the middle were universal! (OK, except in certain strange party-pooping corners of the world that insisted on sticking with their own calendars. There’s always somebody.)
I admit to a moment’s apprehension as 2009 prepared to breathe its last; I’d been fretting all year that the goofy-eyeglass makers were already finished, that they’d given up the ghost right at the start of the year, when the last of the double zeroes came on the scene.
I underestimated them.
If you turned on your TV on New Year’s Eve—or, even better, if you were out there in the middle of the mob scene yourself—you saw a triumph of the human spirit. You saw indomitability made plastic.
The goofy-eyeglass makers realized that 2010 still had two zeroes!
That’s right—they went with a special, brand-new design, with revelers’ eyeballs tucked in behind the second and the fourth digits instead of smack in the middle behind the second and the third. They shifted that interrupting “1” over to the nose-piece, or sent it flaring off toward an eyebrow somewhere. Unbalanced? Sure—but so was the crowd.
And then there were the goofy-eyeglass industry’s traditionalists, still committed to New Year’s symmetry even in these changing times: They threw in an exclamation point after that second zero—2010!—so that there were kind-of five digits, and the zeroes would still be kind-of centered in the two- and four-spots.
And also a last gasp. Looming in the on-deck circle: 2011, and 2012, and 2013, and 2014 and all the rest. One zero only, and zero chance for creativity. Zero chance for…
Wait a minute. Wait just a minute!
Coming soon to a Cyclops near you…?
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.