31 December 2008

Amateur Hour

"Another New Year's Eve,
lost in obscurity,
lost in melodrama..."

- Wordblender, "Another New Year's Eve" (2003)

I generally loathe New Year's Eve.

But I wasn't always this way. I remember when I was younger I always had such high hopes for New Year's Eve. The barrage of images and stories from TV and movies always had the New Year's Eve Party as the 'be-all, end-all' party. The BIG one. The Ultimate. The party for the ages. In reality, this just never happened. I've been to a few OK New Year's Eve parties, some lousy ones, but never a knock-down, drag-out party like Hollywood led you to believe would materialize. For years I kept trying, to no avail. I slowly began to realize that there are several reasons for this.

The first, as I've explained already, are the unreal expectations foisted upon us (well, at least on me) by Hollywood. Nothing could ever really live up to some of the parties shown in the movies.

Next is the fact that there are way, way too many Amateur Drinkers out on New Year's Eve. My friends and I sort of considered ourselves professional drinkers. We were well-seasoned and practiced. We savored anything vinted, brewed, or distilled. Tipping them back throughout the year. I was always amazed at the amount of lunatic drinkers out on New Year's Eve going absolutely nuts. It seemed as if they waited all year to let loose all at once on one night. Recipe for disaster. Practice makes perfect.

Another factor in the Meh-New-Year's-Eve mix, is that fact that most of the time there were too many options. I remember a few years of flitting from one party to the next all night long (searching for the motherlode). With that many options, it's too difficult to get everyone together in one place, so you end up missing some of your best friends, or only seeing them for a brief moment.

A final nail in the coffin is the driving. You certainly don't want to be drinking and driving ever - but especially on this night. Not only does every police force in the country have increased patrols and checkpoints, but remember all those Amateur Drinkers I was talking about earlier - well invariably a large percentage of these idiots climb behind the wheel after being well into their cups and careen around the city. They're lucky if all they do is get arrested or crash into a lamp post or parked car. Every year far too many people die on the roads on New Year's Eve. It's a busy night for the Reaper. 
41 percent of all traffic fatalities during the New Year's period occurred in crashes involving a drunk driver or motorcycle rider. This compares with 31 percent for the year as a whole*. Even if you have a designated driver you still have to watch out for the drunk behind the wheel meeting you at the same intersection at the same time. And taxi cabs? Whew, that's a job in itself on New Year's Eve. I've waiting almost three hours for a cab on New Year's Eve. And if you're trying to get one on the street downtown it's survival of the fittest. Fist-fights are not uncommon.

All this has led me to believe it's better to leave this night to the fools and clowns. A couple of years we've just watched movies at home, stepped out onto the back deck at midnight to watch the fireworks over Capitol Hill, then slip back inside for another glass of wine. One year Stacie and I were in New York City over New Year's Eve. We had plans to go to Times Square and watch the ball drop and ring in the New Year with about a million other people. The city began gating off Times Square early in the morning and people were lining up to get in by 9AM. This meant that you would have to either wait in line or wait inside Times Square for over 15 HOURS before the ball even dropped. We quickly decided we had better things to do in NYC all day long than stand in line. By early evening the lines were over 12 blocks long. Times Square is on 43rd & Broadway. Our hotel was on 56th. By about 8PM we weren't allowed to go back down 56th to our room - the block was closed because the line for Times Square was taking up all the room! We took the subway to the Village, had some pizza, and went to a movie. We rang in the new year in NYC inside a theater. It was one of my favorite New Year's Eves. By the time we got out the madness was much subdued and we hopped into bars and cafes all the way back to our hotel.

Another time or two a good friend of ours had wine and cheese parties at her place on New Year's Eve. A wide selection of artisan cheeses paired with great wine, fresh baked breads & crackers, olives, prosciutto, and other delectable antipasti. These have been great, mellow parties that I very much enjoyed. But again, trying to get a cab home from these parties was a chore.

I'm just not a fan.

KJT - Seattle (2008)
(Martini-Eye painting by artist
Rick Klu, from Wordblender's "Tainted Ambrosia" CD, 2003)


Perry said...

I hear ya KT. The best parties are where you know you aren't leaving. Just hang out w/ some friends, stoke the fire, hope it snows a foot, and have ingredients for killer bloody Marys. And a couple pounds of bacon!

Lara said...

Too true the dangers of being on the roads on the eve. I avoid that for sure.

Oh, and yes, definitely bacon ... starting with bacon-wrapped parmesan pretzel sticks.

: )