Monday, December 31, 2007

The Countdown

I was driving home on Route One from a private New Year's Eve party at which I had totally abstained from alcohol. Not even a sip of cheap champagne. Plus, I've never really enjoyed crowded New Year's Eve parties. Some people play with their alcoholic intake, as if they can stay legally sober by timing their drinks. All along the highway were franchise restaurant/bars, & those parking lots were emptying. I couldn't shake the feeling that half the other drivers on the road were intoxicated. Even if the drivers weren't drunk, the cars were filled with passengers who were, & everyone would be wired, tired, & distracted. "What are we doing out here on a crazy, cold night?" I asked my girlfriend, who was only slightly drunk. The next year, we walked to a small party in town, just a few friends, had a fine time, & didn't stay much past midnight. We drank wine, ate mostly chips & dip, watched the ball drop on TV, exchanged smooches with everyone, & went home shortly afterward. It was convenience corresponding with good sense, involving no great sacrifice or resolve. New Year's Eve is no big deal. I'm almost always up past midnight. People who routinely go to bed early can hardly stay awake for the event, nodding off as the hosts in their broadcast booths overlooking Times Square recite various factoids about the crowd size & the number of lights on the descending ball, & show clips of midnight celebrations in Melbourne, Moscow, Rome, London. Short sleeves in Australia, snow & fur hats by the Kremlin. Fireworks. "The big moment is approaching," they announce every two minutes.

There was a genuine reason for excitement on Y2K night, & that was a huge disappointment for many when the world wasn't plunged into chaos. I'd already downloaded a simple plug in that my PC may or may not have required. I hoped the Oyster Creek Muclear Power Plant & the North American Defense Command had done the same.

I've already attached a post it to my checkbook with "2008" reminder on it.

People living far away from New York mention how much they wish they could be in Times Square on New Year's Eve. I have never been attracted to Times Square on New Year's Eve, even when the night was a great excuse to get blasted by any available means. It's not an experience I needed to have. It's just a big, noisy crowd with no place to pee, better behaved than it was before checkpoints & backpack bans. From the bird's eye camera view, it's not difficult to imagine what it's like on ground level in that seething mass of Jerseyans, Long Islanders, & adventurous Japanese tourists. Or to imagine the odor in the car with the bouncy sliding-door restroom on a late night NJ Transit train out of Penn Station; the same smell as on a Sunday summer night local from the Jersey shore only more intense.

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