Tokyo—It’s going to be a long flight home for Clark Pilger.
Pilger was so eager to turn the page on 2020 that the Muncie, Ind. native flew to Tokyo to celebrate New Year’s Day 14 hours earlier than he would have had he stayed home. Instead of participating from the city’s New Year’s Festival of Lights, which was canceled amid the pandemic, Pilger spent the night alone at a Courtyard by Marriott, following a countdown on a Japanese news program that he couldn’t understand.
“Wanted to get in the mood so I tried some sake that was in the mini-fridge,” Pilger said. “Turned out it was whatever the Japanese version of Nyquil is. I’m guessing the previous guest left it there. It was boysenberry flavored, too.”
Pilger ordered champagne from room service but later realized he didn’t have a bottle opener.
“Japanese corks are different. I worked on it for a half-hour before I tried to bite it off. Pretty sure I chipped a tooth,” Pilger said. “Then I tried to pry it off using the security latch on the door, but I ended up pulling it off the wall. I’m going to leave the champagne bottle behind as payment.”
But then the big moment came…3, 2, 1, HAPPY NEW YEAR! After singing “Auld Lange Syne” over the sound of the guests in the neighboring room having sex, Pilger checked his phone. He quickly learned that Covid-19 was still rampaging through the United States, tensions remain high between police and African Americans, millions of Americans still refuse to wear masks or believe in facts, climate change continues to melt glaciers and endanger wildlife, educational attainment still varies dramatically based on family wealth, poverty and oppression remain undiminished around the world, women still are paid less than men, and, for at least a few more weeks, Donald Trump is still president.
“I just…I don’t know, thought this year would be different,” Pilger said as he stared mournfully at the stain on the carpet where he spat up the boysenberry Nyquil. “I can’t wait until 2022.”