Will’s dad never allowed him at the bar, never brought him there—after all, he was only 6 years old. This, however, was New Year’s Eve. And this year was different. Will did not understand why, but his dad decided to not open the bar that night—though New Year’s Eve, he remembered from his past few young years, was one of the busiest nights of the year.
This time, Will sat at one of the old-looking wooden tables on a chair made for adults—much too big for him. He watched his dad pour some kind of drink bottles (the kind he wasn’t allowed to drink from at home) behind a big bar counter. The bar was full of empty tables, empty tall seats at the counter. The entire place was quiet—except for the t.v. images projected on the wall. Will looked back at the digital projector, sending its beam to the only bare spot on the wall with no crazy pictures of dogs playing poker, and felt more at home. The projector reminded him of the same model they had in their living room.
Will’s dad brought over two glass cups, one with his drink and one with Will’s, and set them both down on the table as he sat himself down with Will. “Here’s your soda, kid,” he said.
The t.v. projections showed flashes of images that Will remembered to be called “important,” though half of them were unfamiliar to him. His dad glanced at the huge touch screen clock hanging front and center behind the counter: 11:45 p.m.
“Yep,” he said, “glad I didn’t open tonight—this New Year’s Eve’s gonna be a wild one.”
Then he turned back to the t.v. show again, showing “2016.” It started saying something about, “Retrospect countdown to 2020 continues….2016 was one of the weirdest….Some later called it ‘The Year of Death.'”
Then it showed a bunch of t.v. and music people—some he had heard of, some he hadn’t—who seemed to have passed away the year they were talking about. There seemed to be a lot of people from what they called “the ’70s” and “the ’80s.'” Will didn’t know those numbers.
His dad, however, chimed in, “Yeah, you were only 2 at the time.” Will kind of felt better hearing his age. He was younger then, so that’s why he didn’t know what was going on.
Then they started talking about “surprise election results” and “stunned the country,” ending with “stranger things have happened.”
He then turned to Will. “You know,” he said with a sigh, “you’ll be happier if you stay 6 years old all your life…or wait.” He swished his drink around while he thought. “Maybe 10 or 11. Just stay 11 forever, and you’ll be the happiest guy on earth—especially in the ’80s, like they were talkin’ about. Take it from an old bartender.”
At that, Will smiled.