Auld Lang Syne, Yeah, Yeah, Blah, Blah
I am told that the point is partying. Partying on New Year's, as I dimly recall, means braving the cold and dodging drunk drivers and terrorist attacks, in order to turn up at a party stocked with schnapps and poison sausage and make small talk with optimistic meeskeits, or worse, married people. So far, Mike and I have bid adieu to 2006 with a day full of debauchery designed to clean out our fridge in anticipation of the clean living of January. Tonight, we will attend our first New Year's Eve party in many years. Our last party was in 2003-4, when Ryan took us to a Louvre-style mansion in Orange County, where we played Spot the Implants most of the evening. In trying to pin down this datum, we wound up having a New Year's Eve retrospective. It turns out the preponderance of our New Year's Eve celebrations have been festivals of crapulence and ill feeling.
New 2003 was spent in New York, on our first visit back since moving from Hobbs. The first part of that evening was spent quite happily in Scott's old apartment on 110th St, and the second part more drunkenly at a large party in Carroll Gardens. New 2002 was at Sarah's ex-boyfriend's dorm in Watt Hall; the party was staffed by prostitutes from Delta Gamma. We remember mostly that Mike had diarrhea, that certain parties accused me of flirting with their boyfriends which I never do, and that one guest spent the whole night on the phone to his girlfriend who's name was, I swear, Fea. New 2001 was the time we brought Mike's sister (then 17 years old) to a party downtown and she hooked up with our host, for which Mike has absolutely not forgiven said host. New 2000 marked the end of what we have come to call Punishment December. My parents' apartment was covered in canned goods Just in Case, and we had somehow cajoled my mother's friend David into loaning us his apartment so everyone could be together when the world ended. On this particular evening, Mike's sister (who was then 16) wound up on the roof making out with one of our classmates, for which Mike has still not forgiven said classmate. It's also the night on which I introduced myself to Mike's then girlfriend, and got Mike in a lot of trouble. I finished off the evening snogging with someone I had personally helped to vomit earlier that evening, while a third party watched with a bag of Doritos.
Mike observes that we have spent every New Year since 2000 together. He was in Detroit in 1999, probably hanging out with the aforementioned girlfriend and staying away from the windows to avoid celebratory gunfire. He doesn't remember 1998, and almost every New Year prior to that was spent in New York. Usually his parents would go to the same party, and he and Lola would go to a midnight movie with Cool Aunt Ellen. There were a few in Detroit, but Proust he isn't.
I had a stomach virus on New Years of both 1999 and 1998, which was just as well, as it covered up my not having plans. Isaac had left for college by then, and I had come to count on him for New Years plans. He continued to call and leave me countdown voice mails for a few years to make it up to me. He was there in 1997 when we went down to stay with Jess in D.C., and watch The Silence of the Lambs and The Evil Dead II. In 1996 he and I walked down to Times Square from his parents' apartment on 90th and Riverside (the only year I ever did it), though we never made it farther than 53rd, I think, and wound up having milkshakes while waiting for the crowds to disperse. In 1995 I was in Helsinki, and having a tremendous time with Clíona's friends--she was two years older than I and they were two years older than she, so I spent a lot of time pretending to be more 18 than I really was. Possibly due to their proximity to the Arctic Circle, everyone in that town was shitfaced by 10:00 in the morning besides Clíona and me, thus enhancing my air of maturity.
All New Year's Eves before that have disappeared into a haze of no-plans-having-ness, except for 1990 and 1984. In 1990 I was freaking out about the approach of a new decade, and for some reason wanted to make sure I was touching everyone in my family, including the dog, at midnight. In 1984, we were spending the night in Brooklyn, and we went out into the streets to bang on metal pots with wooden spoons. Mike would like to add that he was probably in Brooklyn that night, too. Jeff, obviously, was not.
So basically, I would usually prefer to stay home and watch Sam Raimi movies with my husband, who's cute. But sometimes, I accidentally wind up making friends, or worse, Mike does. And then, there's nothing for it but to go out and party. Ugh.
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Keep your Yale chauvinism to yourself, why don't you.
I forgot all about counting down -- all about. Naturally I remember that New Year's, though, since it was my only memorable one. And now I don't celebrate New Year's, a characteristic example of rejecting on principle something that never worked out that great for me in practice.
The last week of December I was in the city. I took the Port Imperial ferry to Hoboken and back. (It was to see Marion Ada -- she just moved to Inwood, actually, but she'd lived in Jersey City before that, and she showed me around North Jersey. I've still never been to Weekhawken, and that was right outside my window every day of my childhood.) From the 38th St. terminal I walked to 9th Avenue to catch an uptown bus, an M11. The busdriver was chatty; it was very "only in New York." He talked with a Hispanic guy and his two sons, then with a lady who was sitting in front of me, who made it clear she resented the transit workers' good pension plan; and finally when she got off he ordered me to come sit up next to him, which I did. I happened to have a black-and-white cookie in a plastic bag, which I'd bought in Hoboken because Marion and I had sat for coffee in a cafe in Hoboken and eaten a bagel that I'd purchased earlier, and I didn't want the owner (who was Turkish) to resent us for not buying his food. I was holding this cookie in a plastic shopping bag in my hands while the bus driver justified his pension plan to me (he only sleeps five hours a night, an exaggeration I think). Suddenly he said, "What you got there, a cookie?" "Yes, a black-and-white cookie." "It's big. Can I have some?" I was so surprised, all I could say was, "Black half or white half?" Just as I'd broken my cookie in two and handed half to him, it was my stop and I got off feeling generous and wished him, with a lot of sincerity, "Happy New Year's!" I tell this story because I usually forget to say "Happy New Year's" or don't say it with much enthusiasm. But this time I got into the spirit (anyway, he said thank you, and I do prefer the white half).
In the passage above, the narrator:
(a) Resents the bus driver.
(b) Resembles the bus driver.
(c) Feels slightly uneasy below 72nd Street.
(d) Is problematic. Possibly there is no narrator. Print is dead. Paul de Man is alive and living with Angela Bassett under the Triboro Bridge.
Anna's first comment should go where this comment is.
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