On Choosing a Millennium Party

By George Plimpton

Fifteen years ago, I was lucky enough to find myself hunting with Hugh Hefner in the Ardennes Forest region of Western Germany. After doing battle with a particularly stubborn stag, a fight which left me more elated than physically weary, I declared, to no one in particular, that if I lived to see the dawn of the millennium, I would live out my days as a predator of the night, doing nothing but hunt wild game up to the moment of my demise. A parodic announcement, to be sure, and meant only in good fun, but one to which an uncharacteristically roguish Hugh replied, "I may just join you!"

Which brings us to the here and maintenant, and my euphoric, blood-lust induced verbal éclat notwithstanding, I am forced to find myself in the position of having to make a decision about exactly what I shall be doing at the moment the clock strikes 2000. An old friend of mine, novelist Peter Matthieson, recently invited me to join him on a trans-Pacific cruise, a sort of Y2K water-jaunt, which puts us as far from civilization as one can be for the nascent moments of the nouvelle belle époque. Tempting, to say the least; the goings-on in Washington alone are enough to make one not yen for the company of men at the dawn of our "third thousand."

Another suggestion, this one coming from a recent Rhine River fishing expedition with Dick Ebersol, was a trip to the Pyramids of Giza. After all, he reasoned, what better way to underline the significance of the earliest heartbeats of our future than by traveling to the one place where the future has as much business being pensée as the past does when one visits a historical site that demands nothing but reflection on the ways in which the future and the past do not deserve to be thought of as one and the same?

Which brings me to my next point, which is, how should one even begin to concern oneself with making such decisions? One route, the one being taken by my old friend Walter Winchell, is to be dead, and not have to bother deciding at all. But should one be forced to die in order to enjoy the simplicity afforded by having died and thus enjoying the ease of not having to decide? Certainly not, say I, and furthermore I dare any homme to say otherwise. Which leads me to my next point, which is, if not mort, then quoi?

Which brings me to my next point. Last week I was in a bus station in Chillicothe, Ohio, and borrowed a quarter from a tall man in what can only responsibly be described as a "decent" suit. It turned out to be John Havlicek, and after the requisite fifteen or so minutes of discussing the 1968 Celtics’ affinity for emerging victorious from games of skill and chance (I once lost $200 to Jo-Jo White in what else but Mah Jong), he mentioned to me that he had once gone so far as to decide completely against ever having to not make any sort of decision about anything involving choosing between "the lesser of two evils." One can of course see where this is going, which is right to my next point. Which is thus: exactly where should one go for a party to celebrate the beginning of the new millennium?

For me, it comes down to nothing more or less complicated than asking myself, "Where don’t I not want to be when the clock doesn’t strike what is not the birth of our third set of one thousand year incremental situations?" I could, I suppose, take the advice of that greatest of thinkers, Thucydides, who told me four hours ago he was going to be in Vegas, and did I want to tag along? But I think you’ve already guessed where I’m actually going to be–dead and naked on a hot air balloon sailing through the Marianis Trench with Wim Wenders.