New Years is one of my least favorite holidays. I am not a fan of any holiday where the main goal is for large groups of people to get as drunk as possible. New Years is the worst of these holidays by far because it combines over the top intoxication with firearms, two things that go so naturally together. And who doesn’t like lying awake at night as a child, waiting for the bullets your redneck neighbor shot into the air at the stroke of midnight to come flying back down to earth, through your roof and into your head? I mean, nothing makes you appreciate the year ahead like surviving random gunfire! I was probably never in any real danger of one of these bullets finding me, but as a kid it didn’t seem so. We would wait up till midnight and then as soon as the ball dropped on the television you would hear someone in the neighborhood run outside hooting and shooting. And always the observation would be made by someone in the room that, “what goes up must come down.” I was an anxious child and I knew if some freak accident was going to happen to anyone, it was going to happen to me. But I managed to survive the New year’s festivities of my childhood, only to have more harrowing experiences on the dawning of the new year as an adult.
There was New Years 1999, where I celebrated the impending downfall of civilization by consuming more alcohol than was prudent. I mean, if life as we knew it was about to me brought down by computers not being able to comprehend the difference between 2000 and 1900, I might as well get really drunk first right? I spent most of the evening out on the porch, clinging to the railing because I was sure if I let go, the spinning of the world around me would be so strong I would be flung from the porch and into outer space. Not the most rational of thoughts, I admit, but it wasn’t the most rational of times. I knew people who went out and stockpiled supplies and weapons so they could fight off the looters who were sure to overrun the town as soon as the lights went out. I was talked back into reality by my best friend Dhyana, who always had never-ending patience for my self-created calamities. She brought me cold pizza and convinced me that I could let go of the railing long enough to eat it. Miraculously, the pizza stopped the spinning and the world didn’t come to an end at the stroke of midnight. Sort of a disappointing night.
The following year was the first New Year’s Eve that I was of legal drinking age, so me and some friends decided to take the free bus into the next town and go out to the bars. This is one of those instances when the difference between being 21 and being 30 is very clear to me. At the time, nothing sounded like more fun then a free bus ride with bunch of drunk people. Now, it sounds like something that happens to you while in purgatory. In preparation for the drunk bus, my friends and I had a pre-party at my apartment. After partaking of some libations, I decided I needed to pack refreshments for the twenty-minute bus ride to the bar. I found an empty water bottle and filled it with a combination of vodka and Hansen’s black cherry soda. My concoction tasted like really potent cough syrup, the memory of which still gives me the shivers, but I didn’t care. We left my house and walked to the bus stop, with me cradling my alcoholic creation in my arms like the precious cargo that it was. At the stop, there was a group of dirty hippie kids waiting for the free ride. One asked what was in my water bottle and I held it out to him to share. Just then there was a muffled pop. I looked down and saw that the top had blown off the water bottle and a puff of white smoke was drifting out of it. Apparently, the jiggling from the walk over had built up enough carbon dioxide to turn my bottle into an explosive device. The dirty kid held his hands up in defense and said, “no way I’m drinking that. You’re more hard-core than I am.” I left the water bottle at the bus stop, believing that if a dirty street kid didn’t want to drink it, then maybe I shouldn’t either. The night took a downward trajectory from there and concluded with me discovering what vodka mixed with black cherry soda tastes like after being digested for a few hours. Eww.
After that, I understandably took a few years off from celebrating New Years. Then in 2004, I made my triumphant return to bar hopping on New Year’s Eve. This time I was with my friend Carrie and we found ourselves packed into the small outdoor area at The Shanty, our favorite dive bar. The whole atmosphere was pretty depressing and I found myself wishing I had stayed home. Then some guy slammed into me, spilling my beer in the process. He apologized and offered to get me a new drink and scuttled off to the bar. He returned a few minutes later with some sort of mixed drink, which I thought was odd since most guys won’t blow the extra few dollars if they know you’re happy drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. I said thank you and turned my back to him, hoping he would take the hint that I was not interested in talking to him, but do weird guys at the bar ever take the hint? He kept asking me how the drink was, had I tried it yet, was it okay. I began to wonder why this guy cared so much about the drink and then decided he must have slipped a roofie in it. Now Carrie will tell you that I often decided that someone had slipped drugs into my drink and that I would leave behind or give away most of the free drinks bought for me at bars. I guess some of the warnings my mother gave me about creepy guys stuck in my head. I bent down and set the questionable drink on the ground, and unfortunately my would-be suitor noticed. He kept asking where my drink went and what was wrong with it. We tried to move away from him, but the bar was too crowded. I was doing my best to just ignore him when out of no where I felt a tug on my hair. He did not just pull my hair, I thought as I continued to look in the opposite direction. And there it was again, a tug on my hair, but this time more forceful and accompanied with a slurred, “hey, I’m talking to you.” I try to be a reasonable and polite person, but when I have reached my limits, I tend to explode. I don’t remember exactly what I said to the belligerent imbecile, but it was something along the lines of asking him if he came from some other country where it was customary to pull the hair of women who were uninterested in his advances, followed by my explicative laced request for him to get as far away from me as possible before I punched him in the face. As Carrie and I left the bar not too long after that, I knew that this was the last time I would be going out on New Year’s Eve.
And so, my hatred of New Year’s Eve remains, and I think it’s pretty justifiable. This year I will be having dinner with my family followed by a movie which I will undoubtedly fall asleep in the middle of. I don’t plan on being awake at midnight, but the new year will be there in the morning.