Get ready for the New Year

The start of every new year always excites me; such freshness of possibilities, you know? Which is why we Texans should be feeling particularly goosebumpy this year, considering such astonishments that are coming. First, seems lucky Dallas lies directly in “The Path of Totality,” meaning we’re in the perfect spot to view 2024’s total eclipse of the sun! Yes, less than three months from now, at exactly 1:40 p.m. (CDT) on Monday, April 8, Dallas will experience one of the longest solar eclipse durations in all North America, if not the world! Hotel rates have already shot up about 300 percent for that preceding weekend; apparently, everybody’s flocking to Dallas to witness this rare solar spectacle.

Aaaaand 2024 means that mid-decade is now officially here, although this new block of the ’20s doesn’t appear to be starting out too very differently than what came before. Except we’ve inherited yet another newly-vexing war — unfortunately, this one in Israel — on top of the already never-ending conflagration between Putin and Ukraine. And once you’ve dragged Israel in, the whole world goes to hell-on-a-supersonic-missile.

Oh, and it’s an election year, too! Globally, a record 64 countries will be electing new leaders in 2024. We’re also entering a rare Leap Year, so February gets to enjoy an added day 29 to its regular 28; plus, the Summer Olympiad returns again this year, too, hosted by Paris (not Hilton, you silly queens). France, this summer — in proud display of its rallying, can-do spirit — even gets to unveil, in record-time, a gleamingly-resurrected Notre Dame Cathedral.

And a new year seems as good a time as any to address our looming, global over-population bomb: Earth gained 75 million brand new humans in 2023.

Gurl, hush! You heard me. There are now more than 8 billion contributors to our new Anthropocene Era’s edge of extinction. In the U.S. alone we now crowd 336 million people within our boundaries. America’s ever-swelling population adds one immigrant every 28.3 seconds, one birth every nine seconds and one death every 9.5 seconds, making us now the third-most populous country in the world, just behind China (1.41 billion) and India (1.39 billion).

Immigration, this November, will play the deciding factor as to which of our two presidential options lands the spot.

Back here in home territory, Texas gained 473,000 people last year, adding more residents in 2023 than any other state in our union. But which state boasts the largest LGBTQ population, you ask? Well, believe it or not, Washington D.C., Oregon and Delaware top the list for rolling their welcome mats out to the greatest percentage of gay and queer residents. Who’d have ever thunk it, right? So many lonely people. So let’s get all Lonely-Hearts’ Club right to it, shall we?

Dear Howard: Every January, I begin a new galaxy-quest to find the ideal boyfriend. I’m now 34. The dating apps have all descended into the very definition of farce. Desperation days are nearing. So, I’ve decided to try going old-school this year, only meeting men outside the cloud who I can pick-up live, relying exclusively on my personal charm and charisma to get laid. Howard, do you have any good pickup lines I could borrow for this experiment? I’m always seeing guys out in public who I think are hottie-tot hot! — ZoomBot

Dear Wombat: Way back in the Jurassic era of the 1990s—when computers and cell phones barely existed, say nothing of dating apps—either your conversation had to dazzle, or you didn’t get laid at all. During my own dazzler-20s, for instance, when I lived up in New York City, the most successful pickup line I ever jumped on was the corny, “Yeah, but I’m more fun.” As in: Two guys are standing at a Manhattan intersection waiting for the WALK signal to turn. Apropos of nothing, one stranger says to the other, “May I take you out to dinner tonight?” I pretended deaf. “Listen,” he leveled, “I’ve only got 14 seconds until I never see you again. Tell me what the magic words are.” I shook my head, “I’ve got a boyfriend.” A big, goofy grin spread across his face: “Yeah, but I’m more fun.” Such was the magic of these cornball words, that it was the start of a three-year relationship.

Here are some other oldies-but-goodies so dumb they’re failsafe that you’re welcome to consider instigating with: “Those pants look very becoming on you, and if I was on you, I’d be coming, too.” Or, “That’s a nice hoodie you’re wearing. Mind if I wear it tomorrow morning?” Then there’s the greased poles, “I know you’re not a dentist, but I have a couple of cavities need filled,” and, “Is your refrigerator running, ’cause I’m gonna suck your dick.”

Go ahead. Try one out. You’ll be stunned!

Dear Howard: I fail at everything I do. The competition out there, everywhere, is crazy rough. Too many people fighting for the same boiled turnip. Eventually, suicidal thoughts begin to cloud a young lady’s frustrations. I want to be a fashion designer, but the fashion business sure doesn’t seem to want me. I’m too oddball, too out there. I’m always too much but not enough. How long do you swim against the current before accepting the truth: Walmart’s really your fulltime job? — Daizha

Dear Ms. Vu: As long a time as it takes, you never, ever give up. Here are a few reasons why, courtesy of a few luminaries we lost last year: Mary Quant, 1930-2023: “The most extreme fashion should be very, very cheap. First, because only the young are daring enough to wear it; second, because the young look better in it; and third, because if it’s extreme enough, it shouldn’t last.” Or, as Tina Turner, born 1939, said, “I never considered giving up on my dreams. You could say I had invincible optimism.”

Such a beautiful turn of words: invincibly optimistic. It defines life’s winners. Everybody fails sometimes, most do so quite abjectly. Within the arts community, you’ll hear the word “No!” ten thousand times before ever hearing a single “Yes.” Simply keep at it, girl. Do it your own way, at your own pace: Believe, and you’ll achieve! As Tony Bennett immortally assured, “Life teaches you how to live it if you live long enough.”

— Howard Lewis Russell

For any of you experiencing Valentine’s laments, send your February heartbreakers to Howard and you just never know, he may answer them: