Return of the King -
not going to pretend that I am not a serious homebody.
Im also not going to pretend that I cant throw a
serious party either. But as far back as I or anyone
else can remember for that matter, a big part of New
Years festivities was watching the ball drop from Times
Square at 11:59p every December 31.
Sure theres the First Night Raleigh acorn on TV as
well, but Id rather see a crystal ball than a bronzed
nut any day, but I digress. I grew up on Times Square. I
grew up on the ball on the pole at One Times Square. And
I grew up on the one man I could count on to be there to
officiate the ball dropping on the pole at One Times
Square, Dick Clark.
Thats why I was both relieved and saddened at the sight
on this particular New Years Eve, when Dick returned to
his perch after being forced to the bench due to a
stroke. Im not going to say that 2005 really sucked
because Dick Clark wasnt there to ring it in... but I
will say that I did have issue with the circumstances,
as if something wasnt quite right with the fabric of
Im also not going to pretend that a strokebe it caused
by a deep vein embolus or a classic cerebrovascular
accidentisnt a serious deal. Ive been around patients
for three years, and I personally believe that three
hours in my profession is enough to understand what the
body goes through during a stroke. Its an uphill climb
to even begin to live a normal life, to walk and talk
even in a way that is just congruent with early
childhood. And some people arent that lucky to even
make the climb.
Thats why, after what happened in 2004, I was relieved
to see Dick at the ready to usher in 2006, watching the
ball drop and taking time to kiss his long-time wife
Kari at midnight, things that hes always been able to
do before he was forced to watch the festivities on TV.
I mean, its always good to see the legends in action.
Ours was the kind that welcomed Regis back when he
hosted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, a gig he wanted
to go to Bill Cullen, save for the whole being dead
thing. Ours was the kind that cheered on as Tom Kennedy,
Jack Narz, and Monty Hall were honored by the Game Show
Congress for their legendary contributions to the genre
and to society. Ours was the kind that continues to
relish in every broadcast of The Price Is Right where
Bob Barker is still the master of MCs. We love seeing
our heroes doing their thing. Of course, we also love
seeing them pass the torch to people they handpick to
carry on for them when they shuffle off this mortal
coil, as Dick rang in 2006 with his heir apparent Ryan
Seacrest (see OTB: Scion), so that the next generation
can be at least familiarized with their work.
Which brings me to why I was saddened to see what I saw
New Years Eve. As much as we would love to see Dick
Clark doing what he loves to do every day for the rest
of our lives, he is 76 years old, and Americas Oldest
Teenager is beginning to show his true age. Anyone who
denies this is lying to themselves. And while we all
hope for the best, and certainly showing up on ABC is
certainly a big step in those who believe in hope for
stroke victims taking back their lives (and God bless
each and every one of them for doing so), in the back of
my mind, I have to think that he has to be coming to
grips with his own mortality somehow. As I heard at the
Congress over the summer, We have so many people to
honor, and not a lot of time to do it.
But that doesnt take away from the fact that when we
needed the erstwhile Pyramid host to help out party
out 2005, he was there. Just like he said he would be.
Leanne Hendrix, a former Miss Arizona who suffered a
stroke three years ago at 26, said that a stroke is not
aesthetically pleasing so far as medical survival is
concerned. So for [Dick Clark] to get up on national TV
and say This is what I am nowI have nothing but
respect for him.
Chico Alexander rang in 2006 with his family, in
hopes that this year wouldnt be as bad as the last...
2005 really did bite the big one. E-mail him at email@example.com.