Dec. 31, 2009, 9:05 p.m.: It's New Year's Eve. I'm staying home tonight, alone. This is because W. is bartending at O'Connells and I've got a deadline—this deadline, for the column you're reading now. It's due in two days, so, obviously, I can't go out tonight. Not the way you're supposed to go out on New Year's Eve, which means heavy drinking at the bar, an after-hours party, a group stumblefest to Lucy's Tavern at 6 a.m., then continued drinking until either the sun goes down again or you pass out in a pool of your own sweat and vomit (swomit?)
This is the sort of rumpus that will pretty much ruin your entire next day and half the day after and, realistically, there's just no way for a person to write a column under those conditions, unless, of course, the column is called “My Head is Exploding and I Have to Throw Up Again” and consists only of you repeating onomatopoetic words like “gurgle,” “blargh” and “kersplash.”
Now, some of you might ask? “Why not just have a few cocktails, ring in the New Year and get home before 1 a.m.?”To which I might respond, “Yeah, right.”
The people I know—these friends and co-workers, these bar-goers and pub-crawlers—they're animals! They are vicious, snarling beasts who aren't going to allow me to have a few drinks and slip out at 1 a.m. Certainly not on New Year's Eve, certainly not before I'm passed out in a pool of my own swomit. It just doesn't work like that. Not with this pack.
10:31 p.m.: A friend called. He wanted to know if I was going out tonight. I told him no and explained why.
“Dude!” he said, “It's New Year's Eve! Just come out, have a couple of drinks and get home before closing.”
“Yeah, right,” I said. “There is no way you or any of those other varmints are gonna let me go home at 1 a.m.”
“Yeah we will, man, I promise. No pressure at all.”
“You're pressuring me right now,” I blurted. “No worries though. I'd pressure you, too. That's what we do. That's why I'm staying home. Have fun, though.”
After we hung up, I felt a momentary rush of solitude. There I was, alone again, on New Year's Eve—no foghorns, no fireworks, no fanfare of any kind—just me at my computer doing (ugh) work. Make no mistake, though. This is not a woe-is-me holiday column. I'm not regretful or depressed. Like most people, I have a defense mechanism for such situations. It's a built-in device for those times when, for whatever reason, you are not able to celebrate a particular holiday in the traditional way you have grown accustomed to celebrating it.
It's called The Jader.
For instance, when I can't fly home to New York for Christmas, well, then, I just turn on the device and become instantly jaded about Christmas as a whole and—voila!—I'm no longer depressed.
By the way, my Jader (not to be confused with the Jadar, which allows me to identify and commiserate with other nearby jaders) is top-of-the-line. Not that it matters. New Year's Eve is so easy to get jaded about. It is arguably the lamest holiday in the universe. It celebrates something that doesn't even exist: an arbitrary point on the Gregorian calendar, itself an arbitrarily chosen calendar, among hundreds of other arbitrary calendars, themselves arbitrary measurements of time, which itself is but a theory sopping with arbitrariness.
And then there are the material problems with New Year's Eve jubilations: the high cover charges, the crowds, the excessive back-patting, the rattles, horns, bells and party poppers going off in your ear all night and, worst of all, the pub-rookies, who always seem to be ahead of you at the bar, waiting for service with their money still in their pockets and a 15-drink round still not assembled in their brains while you stand behind them with a glass that is beyond empty and an increasing compulsion to stab them in the kidney with a kazoo.
11:04 p.m.: That said, there is one thing I will miss about celebrating New Year's Eve tonight. It's that moment, when the midnight hour clangs and everyone hoists their glasses and yells “Hap-pee New Year!”
No matter how high I turn up the knob on my Jader (it goes to 11, incidentally), I simply cannot get negative about the moment when the hugs and handshakes start up, and everyone—strangers, chums and lovers alike—all whisper in each other's ears, “Happy New Year,” which is shorthand for “I wish you peace and the promise of better futures and the ditching of worser pasts,” which, to me, is just the shit. Then, when “Auld Lang Syne” kicks in—a song of friendship eternal—and everyone sings together, that moment is worth all the horsecrap, and it occurs to me, as the digital clock clicks on 11:52 p.m., that I can make that moment happen, right here, right now. That I can use this column—at my desk, alone, a few minutes shy of 2009, Jader be damned—to ring in the New Year.
And here it comes, the clock says four minutes to go, three minutes, two, one—wait for it now—Hap-pee New Year! May peace and good will shine upon your heads and shoulders. May 2009 treat you in the manner that a septuagenarian sugar mama treats her boy-toy. And may 2008, that cheap-ass, unfaithful stripper bitch, fall into a loch and have her skin licked off by carnivorous eels, for auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.
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