Ah, New Year’s Eve. That charming holiday where everyone breaks out the champagne, is thankful for the presence of good friends, and sings Aude Lang Syne after finding someone adorable to kiss at the stroke of midnight, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Zooey Deschanel.
Oh, wait, that’s not me! That’s everyone else! I’m too busy celebrating a different holiday each December 31st, New Year’s Catastropheve. I have never once had a halfway-decent New Year’s Eve, despite having attempted to celebrate with people that I like in ostensibly-fun places every year. We’re not talking “Oh no, I didn’t find a cute boy to kiss at midnight my life is so sad” disappointment. We’re talking “well, at least no one ended up seriously injured this year, so I guess that’s a success…” Let’s revisit the past decade, shall we?
NYE 2002: I don’t have any recollection of this, so I can only assume that I stayed at home with my parents, who probably fell asleep at 10ish. I didn’t realize at the time that things could only go south from here.
NYE 2003: I was extremely sick and went to bed early. Then I woke up at midnight when people started shooting off fireworks, and hey! This was the year I discovered that codeine makes me hallucinate!
NYE 2004: I was a senior in high school, but being that I was an incredibly uncool senior in high school (as were all my friends–I believe F had to spend the night praying in the New Year with her family, so I guess I have to be thankful that I’ve never done done that), I stayed home with my family. The only thing I remember about this night is that we had our traditional meal of cheese fondue, on which I managed to choke. The fondue part. Not the stuff you dip in the fondue part. How does one choke on melted cheese? I don’t know either.
NYE 2005: I was home from my freshman year in college and excited to be going to an actual party with my actual friends. And, I got to meet A’s future husband, Mr. A, for the first time, and I looked super cute in my new white coat! It had the promise of a good night.
|Me photobombing B and A. White coat not pictured.|
And then we decided to go and set off fireworks. Hey guys, guess what? This is also the NYE that I developed a healthy fear of fireworks! Somehow A, Mr. A, and I ended up trapped on a narrow, flammable dock in the middle of what quickly declined into two groups of people throwing explosives at each other. Not only did this freak me the eff out, but their strategy of throwing fireworks into the marsh directly underneath where we were standing ensured that my cute new white coat was covered in pluff mud. If you do are not familiar with the joys of pluff mud (which lacks a wikipedia article, apparently), it smells like ass.
NYE 2006: Following the previous winter term, which I had spent miserable and alone in South Carolina, and a tragic incident wherein my sister spent an unfortunate Christmas in a Broatel (brothel-boat-hotel) in Prague, my parents decided it would be best for everyone involved if I was shipped off to stay with her in Germany for the holidays. I had a fabulous time in Stuttgart and was excited about the prospect of jetting over to Ireland for New Year’s. My family in Ireland is super fun, so it was sure to be a success. Right?
Rookie mistake! Do not set expectations for New Year’s Eve, unless you expect that it will suck. You will surely be disappointed! Instead of going out with my cousins, we stayed in. “Not a problem,” Sister and I thought. “We’re all the fun we need right here!” Then we sat down in front of the TV. We watched the BBC equivalent of Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve for a few minutes, until my cousin switched over to a local, Irish station, where we spent the rest of the evening watching a public access countdown program hosted by puppets. Not even famous puppets, like the Muppets or Zig and Zag, or even Dustin the Turkey. Just some C-List puppets we’d never heard of. And then… the countdown….
Ten ruddy-faced Irishmen came out on stage in nothing but leather chaps and underwear. As we counted down, they turned around one by one to reveal numbers written on their hairy cheeks, squished between their surprise assless chaps. “This is a new low,” Sister and I thought.
Looking back, it’s probably one of the best New Year’s to date.
NYE 2007: The next year, we decided to stick with Germany. Sister and Brother-in-Law had informed me that the view of the fireworks over Stuttgart was spectacular from their apartment windows, and I was excited by the prospect of a nice evening at home, playing Guitar Hero, drinking champagne, and watching the fireworks from a cozy, heated apartment. Again with the unrealistic expectations! Instead, two of their friends came over and persuaded us that no, the view would be much better from a hill above the city.
We trudged up to the hill and discovered a war zone. Germany is famous for being orderly and rule-abiding, except, apparently for with fireworks, which evidently have roughly zero restrictions. Dozens of people were already drunkenly setting off fireworks, having trampled over a chain link fence designed to keep people away from a steep drop-off from the hill.
Given my recently-cultivated fear of fireworks back in 2005, it didn’t take long for me to get incredibly freaked out. Can you blame me?
That scream you hear at the end of the video? That’s my sister. Who’d just been f**king shot in the leg with a firework. She’d turned to her husband to get keys to take me home, and the at that moment, a rogue firework entered the fray, hit her in the ankle and then bounced onto my leg where it left a singe mark on my jeans. I completely lost it that point and was pretty hysterical the entire way home, including a long trip down an icy hill, where my sister could barely stand.
NYE 2008: I was back in South Carolina again, where my parents have a lime tree on their back porch. A couple of days before New Year’s Eve, I took it upon myself to juice all the limes on the tree, afraid that a frost might come and ruin them all. I went on about my life, enjoying the lovely Charleston weather and the like.
Two nights later, I woke up in excruciating pain to discover that my hands looked like this:
I walked to my parents room, where my hands were so swollen that I had to bang my head on their door instead of knocking. I went to the doctor the next day, where she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I had no sign of allergic reaction or anything else that might elicit such a response; I basically just had an extremely bad sunburn, but only on my hands. I was supposed to go to a party, but being unable to either drink alcohol because of the steroids or even bend my fingers to drive, I stayed home.
Eventually the swelling went down and turned to blistering, which then turned to all the skin peeling off my hands. You can still see the scars whenever it’s too cold, too hot, or too dry. Wikipedia now tells me that this was my problem, but I no longer handle lime juice when I’m cooking, just in case. Also, I had to walk around for the next month looking at best like I was really into fingerless gloves, and at worse, like I was suicidal:
NYE 2009: I went to Texas to visit my sister, but given our history, we decided not to inflict our New Year’s Eve carnage on the rest of Austin. Instead, we stayed in, ate cheese fondue (didn’t choke!), and then looked at her and her husband’s high school yearbook. Which is not particularly interesting or fun, but also not dangerous.
NYE 2010: Back home in Charleston, I’d intended to to go to a party with some friends from high school. Then, my sister stayed in town several extra days, and instead of working on the fellowship application that was due on January 1st, I decided that it would be a much better use of my time to play with her. So I didn’t start the application until December 31st. Which meant that I had to stay home and work on it all night.
I didn’t get the fellowship.
So there you are. That’s the past decade of New Year’s Eve for me, ranging from bland to complete and utter clusterf**k. Tonight, I am supposed to be leaving to go to a cabin in Maryland to go skiing. I feel real concern for the 12 friends that are coming with me; they do not know the tragedy that will surely befall them just by being in my proximity on December 31st. The saddest part of it all is that they are probably expecting to have a good weekend, filled with champagne and winter sports and camaraderie.