Steve Braunias lays aside James Joyce to champion the tucked-in shirt.
New year, new you! Or the same old you but with a whole bunch of new, exciting stuff set to happen. Either way, the fact is 2018 is about to knock on the door, so now's a good time to get ready to open it with a smile on your dial, hope in your heart, and a handy list of 10 things that'd be good to see in the coming year.
1. The return of the tucked-in shirt.
People who have known me for a long time regularly come up to me on the street, and say, "You know, you started this whole shirt not tucked-in thing. No one was doing that until you started rocking it in the early 1990s, and now look! Dads do it, squares do it, every schnook in New Zealand does it. You've always been such an influencer.
"Anyway, shame on you. It's a terrible look and it'd be great if men went back to tucking in their shirts. The singer Tim Finn does it, have you noticed? You see him around invariably wearing a crisp white shirt, which he tucks into his jeans, and it looks awesome. Let's hope that more men follow his lead in 2018! Don't you agree?"
And I say, "Yes."
2. A Hollywood sexual harassment scandal involving someone really famous.
To tell you the truth I'd never even heard of Harvey Weinstein, and I thought Kevin Spacey was dead. All the same, it was thrilling to watch the way they were so swiftly held up as wretches, cast out, and destroyed. It'd be even more thrilling if it was a leading man. An A-list star exposed as an A-grade asshole. Let's hope!
3. A New Zealand political sex scandal involving pretty much anyone, but preferably from National.
A full-on, pants-down, hotel-sneaking, minibar-drinking, reputation-wrecking romp, complete with sexts and outrageous credit card charges. It'll need something else, something unusual. Maybe the use of an animal. Or vegetable.
4. An All Black sex scandal.
I don't know. They're getting a bit old, aren't they? But the other way to look at it is that they're a much-loved Kiwi tradition, up there with the A&P Show and Anzac Day, and there's something about All Black sex scandals that tells us a lot about our national character.
5. Trump impeached.
How the world longs to hear those two sweet little words, "You're fired!"
6. Not so many kids speaking in American accents.
Have you noticed how many kids - the only ones I know are in primary school, but maybe it's rife at college, too - roll their Rs in the American way? It's weird. How did that habit creep into everyday language? I guess it's from American TV, but we've been watching American TV for years, so why now? Anyway, it'd be good if it stopped. If that sort of thing isn't checked, it could infect New Zealand English, and change the very way we order fush and chups.
7. An end to free milk cartons at primary school.
I hate Fonterra.
8. A new, totally awesome fast-food product from one of the major franchises.
KFC! Burger King! McDonald's! Texas Chicken! Or any other purveyor of junk food! Listen up: the people demand something new to eat in 2018. Nothing daring or spectacular got launched in 2017. That was disappointing. We expect better service. We're hungry. We're in a hurry. We want something mindblowing, bro! Even thinking about it works up an appetite for the golden taste of a food item doused in salt. It could be a twist on the dear old french fry. It could be a mash-up of surf and turf. It could be a burger that looks like a pizza - look, I'm just riffing here. But the thing about fast food is that it doesn't stay still, it constantly evolves, and I'm really looking forward to whatever they come up with next. Memo to the kitchen: nothing fresh, thanks.
9. Getting to the end of Ulysses by James Joyce.
We should all read Ulysses.
The most difficult novel in the English language is the ultimate test of pain and endurance. I opened it about three months ago and I've got as far as page six. Oh well! What are the summer holidays for if not pain and endurance?
10. World peace.
People who don't know me from Adam regularly come up to me and say, "Tuck your shirt in. And another thing: you look like the kind of goose who goes around saying, 'If only there was world peace! Perhaps this year it'll come to pass.'" But it won't. Life in too much of the planet is still nasty, brutish, and short. What can you do? It's the way of the world.
"We can all make a difference, though, to the people around us. I think there's a new mood in New Zealand in 2018, a mood to do things that help the disadvantaged, such as people living in cars and garages and motels.
"I think that will to help is now at government level. It's long been there in the work of agencies such as the Aunties, which was set up on behalf of women's refuges. But it's up to all of us to give what we can - time, money, food. It's not hard. It's actually the New Zealand way. Don't you agree?"
And I tuck my shirt in, and say, "Yes."