I hadn’t seen him in about a year, and I almost didn’t recognize him. Man, had he aged. A lot.
“Baby New Year 2012,” I sputtered, “is that you?”
“Guilty as charged, young fella,” 2012 replied.
“Amazing. When I saw you in January, you were just a chubby little baby. Now you’re old and frail. No offense, but you make Keith Richards look healthy.”
He let out a raspy laugh, and lit up a Marlboro. “Yeah, well, if you’d had the year I had, you’d look pretty ragged, too,” he replied.
“But you were so filled with promise for the year ahead,” I said. “What happened?”
“Ha! What didn’t happen? I had to be a presidential election year, didn’t I? Hurricane Sandy, the General Petraeus and Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandals, the ‘Dark Knight’ movie theater and Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting rampages…” He pulled a hip flask from the back pocket of his jeans, and took a long pull. “Is it any wonder I drink?
“And don’t even get me started about the year in the fishing industry,” he continued. “Man, you were harping on me to help the fishermen before I could even walk! Fat lot of good I did for Northeast groundfishermen. They’re worse off now than they were when I arrived. I couldn’t get Congress off its collective duff to deal with those bills to make the Magnuson-Stevens Act more flexible. Disaster declarations for Northeast groundfish, Alaska chinook salmon, and Mississippi blue crab and oysters all happened under my watch. And even though there were plenty of lobsters harvested in Maine, there were too many shedders and the price tanked.”
I felt bad for the old guy. “You know, good things happened, too,” I said. “We saw a resurgence of oyster landings in Chesapeake Bay, and on the West Coast they had a better salmon harvest, the Dungeness crab fishing was good, and squid and pink shrimp harvesters had a nice year, too. And you got Jane Lubchenco to resign from NOAA! That might help get NOAA on a better track for fisheries management in the year ahead.”
He smiled at me. “I guess you’re right,” he said, stubbing out the Marlboro’s remains with his foot. “Maybe some good came out of me after all.”
“That’s the spirit,” I said. “And remember, you totally punked those Mayans who said you’d be done on Dec. 21. You’re made of tougher stuff.”
“Maybe so,” he chuckled as he began to walk away. “I hope Baby New Year 2013 will be, too.”