After making a number of regrettable decisions and unfortunate choices in 2018, Bart Biggs of Nashville, Tennessee, resolved to do better in 2019 – specifically, he vowed to quit partying like a sociopathic rockstar, make the most of his professional opportunities, cease all contact with his toxic ex-girlfriend Candace, and generally live a more authentic life.
A mere few minutes into the New Year, however, Bart had already blown each and every one of his professed intentions except, arguably, the last.
“I'm off to a mixed start,,” he acknowledged. "It happens."
As Bart explained it, the downward spiral began when he abandoned his plan to stay in on New Year’s Eve and enjoy a quiet night at home, reading, in favor of dropping by his friend Ryan's place for an impromptu gathering – no partying, just a chill, low-key hang with Ryan and some of their other buddies.
When he arrived at his friend’s house shortly before midnight, however, Bart learned that by “no partying,” Ryan had simply meant no cocaine - but plenty of marijuana and booze. Not wanting to be overly rigid or a total buzz-kill, Bart partook moderately of the cannabis, feeling okay about his decision. Shortly thereafter, though, another buddy arrived with some cocaine, and before he knew it, Bart was partaking – not so moderately – of that as well.
“I guess pot really is a gateway drug,” he said with a rueful shrug. “Who knew?”
Bart is pretty sure that, after that, he also drank a great deal of alcohol, although he can’t recall exactly what type or how much.
The downward trajectory only accelerated after midnight, when Bart received a text message from his ex-girlfriend, Candace, saying, “Happy New Year, faggot!”
His ex's lighthearted banter made him chuckle, and, feeling it would be rude not to respond in kind, Bart replied, "Happy New Year, slut!"
"At the time," says Bart, "I was just glad we'd managed to get past our twisted history and reach a point where we were able to joke around."
Before he fully realized what was happening, though, he'd invited Candace to come to Ryan's, pledging to show her he was no faggot - and next thing he knew, he and his ex were getting down to business on a couch on Ryan’s back porch.
It wasn't until they'd finally disentangled their goose-bumped limbs and Candace had bolted inside to warm up that Bart recalled that, a week after her and Bart's breakup, she’d tearfully confided to him that she'd become infected with a non-fatal but incurable STD.
“Goddammit!” he shouted in vain to the silent starlit sky.
Meanwhile, he heard the half-naked Candace gleefully telling his pals, “You know, every time I screw that dude, I remember why I dumped him.”
Humiliated and angry at Candace and even more so at himself, Bart lashed out at an innocent third party. He grabbed his cell phone and fired off an email to his department chair at Tennessee State University, where he’d just finished out his first semester as an adjunct philosophy professor. "In the interest of living a more authentic life," he wrote, "your ‘university’ is a joke! And you suck ass.”
"It was a bold move,” Bart admits. "And maybe not the most strategic, since I've been trying to land a permanent staff position there. At this point, the ramifications are still unclear." He. shrugged “philosophically" and remarked, "What’re you gonna do?”
Fortunately, Bart reports, that email communication marked the low point of the evening. After his tumultuous, resolution-shattering start to the New Year, by the time he’d slept off his guilt, shame, and physical and emotional hangovers, it was well into the morning of January 2, 2019 – and he successfully finished out the rest of the day without having done much of anything, good or bad.
“Just call me Hippocrates,” he quipped. “'First, do no harm.'”
Bart's rally on day two of the New Year served to reinforce his confidence regarding his prospects for 2019
“My job situation is a little tenuous,” he said, “but fingers crossed. And so far, no active outbreaks. So kind of a mixed bag, but overall I feel pretty good. Again, fingers crossed!"