I began one year by eating five expensive chocolates with a friend– we split them with a credit card, on the bar, and then went at them one at a time, tasting and discerning with eyes closed. The first thing I did in 1998 was ride the Tower of Terror. You’re in a pretend elevator, and it “falls” thirteen stories. Another New Year’s Eve I was at a swing dance at an inner city church, dancing with a man who had blue eyes so intense that the photos look scary.
Although I’ve had some fun on New Year’s Eve, I’m not a big fan. I don’t like champagne, and I don’t like kissing strangers. I’ve just made the best of it.
At the start of that behemoth year 2000 I danced to one song (probably– let’s face it– “1999”), and then immediately laid back down and fell asleep in a booth. I hadn’t had a thing to drink. I had the worst flu of my life. Once I was drinking Haitian rum and talking art theory. More than once, I have worn something with feathers, and more than once, a chivalrous male friend has kissed me. Pity kisses are better than none. One year, I received a 3 am call from the owner of the bar, asking how to start my car, relaying those directions to some friend of mine. I had already been taken home. “Shove in the clutch really fast, and then the key,” I told him. I never again worried about my car being stolen. A few times, I was out with someone I loved madly, and enjoyed the kissing very much.
On New Year’s Eve, it feels like something is at stake. It feels like fun or lack of fun might mean something. Any fun I have must compete with the telecasts I viewed with babysitters in the 1980s. Grownup ladies in dresses covered in actual sequins, dresses of a sort you have only seen on Barbies. Everyone drinking something from beautiful glasses that is assuredly not like the apple juice you poured from the plastic pitcher in the fridge. They are usually standing around, appearing to do nothing, which is what it looks like when people are having the time of their lives. Someday I would be a grownup lady, and I would have that much fun.
December 31st is not spiritual, not a time to ponder the past or plan for the future. New Year’s Eve is a time to get plastered with celebration. I’m not against getting plastered, necessarily. I just don’t know what we’re celebrating. That the past is over? That the future is coming? That we have lived with losing the warmth of autumn, and know for sure that the days are getting longer? How about this: that our growth may be as clear as 0 to 1, and just as easy.