Tonight I'll be going over to my brother's for a little get-together
with some old friends, (some of you are probably reading this). It'll be pretty low-key, which is fine by me. I confess that this night is not one of my faves. There are far too many amateur drunks driving around out there, and far too many cops hassling the rest of us in their efforts to catch the former. Watching the earthly remains of Dick Clark ring in the New Year is positively
macabre; and the whole event has always seemed a little odd to me anyway, (why isn't it marked at the Winter solstice?)
And then there are the psychological scars.... In my youth, (oh so long ago), I managed to attend some
worst, most pathetic and mind-numbingly boring New Year's Eve parties - EVER. I remember one such celebratory with great clarity. It is like a scab on my brain...
It was in my college days. And I had
an acquaintance who lived off in what were then the backwoods of Southern PG County, (even now the place has a certain redneck grimness to it, but in those days it was positively desolate and savage). He invited me to his New Year's party. Oh, the fun we'd have
! I'd get to meet his many friends! There's be laughter, music, magic and mirth! To my everlasting regret, I accepted.
I arrived at his folks' place (a quite nice house, actually), around nine-ish
with a bottle of wine and high hopes. My first mistake was in not noticing that there were no cars parked nearby...
I rang the doorbell, and my "friend" welcomed me in - alone. Just me, him, and his brother; oh, and my bottle of wine. I immediately asked where everyone else was - he hemmed and hawed, and finally
started calling up folks to invite them. Now, frankly, you're going to get pretty slim pickings on New Year's Eve is you
don't start inviting people to your party until about 9:30, and that indeed held true for this evening. One or two other guys showed up. I want to stress that they were guys - there were no women within a hundred miles of this place
. There were only men at this "party". Heaven forbid that any females show to repulse the gray monotony that was settling in. The host turned on his little stereo. Music - sure, why not? It turned out that he only
owned one album - Pink Floyd's
Dark Side of the Moon. And when it ended, he played it again, and again, and again, all through the night. It hammered into my brain, a relentless forced march of boredom, and a reminder of one of my worst evenings out. I've never been able to listen to it since.
At any rate, I offered up my bottle to be opened, only to be told that there were no corkscrews in the house. Now frankly, I consider the corkscrew just shy of the knife and the garrote
as essential tools of civilisation. So, the hosts' brother ends up using a steak knife to try and pry the cork from the bottle. Sigh.
You might now be wondering why I just didn't leave. I wonder that too. I guess it was just a misplaced sense of politeness, or perhaps a masochistic twinge at the back of my mind, to stick around and see just how much worse things could get.
At midnight, I remember sitting there, at midnight, in the middle of the wilderness, listening to Pink Floyd's
droning for the umpteenth time, nursing my cork-flecked glass of wine, when it was grandly announced that the New Year festivities would begin. We were invited outside. The host had several old CO2 cartridges
, (like you'd use for a seltzer bottle). They were now empty of gas, and he'd removed their seal, and filled them with black powder and a fuse. I hunkered down behind a tree as he proceeded to light these little home-made grenades. The night was quite punchered
with loud explosions and I could hear the resulting steel shrapnel whipping past my little oaken bunker. There was truly death in the air that night.
Having survived this mini-Dresden, and it now being past Midnight, I finally said my goodbyes. I came for a party and got shrapnel and Pink Floyd. I know there's a lesson there somewhere, but damned if I know what it is. That New Year was followed by several other gruesome examples, but you get the point.
Nowadays the parties are quieter, and more comfortable. It'll be nice tonight. I hope you have fun too.