One of the benefits of aging is losing almost all interest in appearing cool. But on one night every year, those old high school insecurities return in full force. Silly as it sounds, the dropping of a big red ball makes me feel like an awkward teenager all over again. Even though New Year’s Eve combines my three least favorite things, people, parties and booze, I melt like Jack Twist around Ennis Del Mar every time this holiday nears. To steal a line from Brokeback Mountain: “New Year’s Eve, I wish I knew how to quit you.”
In thirty-three years, I've had exactly two memorable New Year's Eve nights: one clean, one sordid. Two out of thirty-three. Michael Jordan is more likely to hit a baseball than I am to have a decent December 31st.
My personal favorite came as the world rang in the new millennium. I visited a friend in Canada and we spent the night playing sardines—a Canadian variation on hide & seek—at his church. I made like Anne Frank sixty years before me and hid in the crawl space of the attic as if my life depended on it. Regular people are as scary to us shy folk as Nazis are to Jews. Actually being encouraged to hide from strangers on New Year’s Eve was every introvert’s wet dream come to life!
The sordid tale came in 2003 when I went on a blind date that turned out much better than Kevin Broccoli's. The girl and I were feeling it; and she was sharing a hotel room for the night with her best girlfriend. What could be better?
You're probably thinking ménage à trois right about now but remember this was 2003, the era of Freedom Fries when it was hip to hate the French. Not wanting to be mistaken for a Francophile pervert on our first date, I thought better of broaching the double your pleasure scenario. Instead, as we headed back to the room, I jiggled the handle of the hotel meeting room door and it opened! Needless to say, I'm sure the maid would agree we did something even more perverse than a threesome on the meeting room table that night.
As for those other 31 years, I think the repealed "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy should be reinstated for New Year's Eve reminisces.
Last year the wife and I went on a double date. The other couple came down with a case of the Cinderellas and ditched us at 11:35pm. Unless the couple's fairy godmother intended to turn their Mercedes back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, I found their behavior to be inexcusably rude.
The year before we went to an English themed pub: midnight came and went with hardly a peep from the crowd. This place felt as dead as a strip club on a Tuesday night where the emcee implores the crowd to make some noise for the ladies.
In 2007 I had the bright idea of taking the wife to a movie on New Year’s Eve. Even though I’m a matinee person by temperament, I waited around all day for the 10pm show so I could be a cool person out on the town. By the time Sweeney Todd slit his last throat, I had hit REM sleep. Now I’ve sworn off the late show. Why should I wait until some arbitrary time and pay for a premium ticket on the off chance strangers might mistake me for cool?
While others do shots on New Year's Eve, I contemplate a shotgun blast to the head. I have a very acute case of seasonal affective disorder that occurs on only one winter's night of the year.
This New Year's Eve has the potential to be the worst yet. A local casino is hosting a free concert by Three Dog Night. What happened? Bread was too baked to play?
I'm not sure which is worse: staying home watching Ryan Seacrest or ringing in the New Year to "Joy to the World (Jeremiah was a Bullfrog.)"
Shoot me now please so I do not have to decide.