New Year’s Eve: Fear It or Face it
See end of post for update on 2010 NYE
It’s New Year’s Eve again. I’m helping my wife get ready for one of her NYE parties. Not that I’m much of a party planner (more like a party pooper, as she would put it). She loves a party, and never needs much of an excuse to throw one. And you can’t find a better excuse than NYE.
As I’m running pre-party errands for those NYE party favors (you know, the little cone-shaped hats and tiaras and noisemakers that make us look silly), I’m thinking back on a few of my most memorable New Year’s Eves.
Y2K will be “the end of the world”
Who can forget this NYE. The suspense and build-up to 2000 was pretty intense. Tick, tick, tick. As the new millennium approached, there was widespread panic building throughout the world. Fear that computers, which controlled much of the world’s infrastructure and financial systems, would malfunction or collapse. Would it mean the end of the world? Tick, tick, tick.
It made for some great stories. I’m sure I was responsible for scaring a lot of people. So where was I when the clock struck midnight? I took my family and we fled to….. Mammoth Ski Resort in California. Yep, if we were all going to die, at least we’d be buried in our ski boots.
Long before the unfounded mass hysteria of Y2K, came my self-induced fear of the new year. As a kid I hated NYE. It was one of my worst nights every year. I’d stay up and watch The Tonight Show. Johnny and Ed would tell a few jokes, toss to the Times Square count down, and toast. I’d listen for the honks and fireworks outside, then head to bed. Hated it.
Never saw a shrink for it though. But several decades worth of NYEs since, I’ve tried to self-diagnose the problem. To me, NYE meant yet another year of my life behind me, another beginning. Tick, tick, tick. Life was flying by for this ten-year old! I wanted it to slow down, even stop. I’m still working on that.
After years of watching the ball drop on TV, I wanted to see it in person. In the early 90’s we lived on the east coast, so I took my young family to the Big Apple for NYE.
When I say young, I mean young. At the time, we had a two-year old and a two-week old. Our hotel was only a couple of blocks from Times Square. With kids in tow… one in a stroller, the other with legs dangling in one of those frontpacks… we set out to stake our spot.
It wasn’t more than a block before we started to come to our senses. A NYPD paddy wagon screeched to a stop right next to us, the back door flew open, and a small army of riot-prepared cops jumped out. They were ready for trouble. Trouble? What could possibly happen with a million drunks crammed into a small area ?
So we went back to our hotel, and stood just outside the safety of the front door to catch the magic moment. We also befriended some cops for a little added protection. Before midnight, police were relaxed and joking. But as soon as the clock ticked to 12, their entire mood changed. The ugly side of NYE was here.
One of the cops turned to me, pointed to my two-week old, and said, “Mister, you’d better take that thing in now.”
A sea of humanity
I never did see the ball drop that night in Times Square. A million party-harders vs. my young family. I played it safe. But a few NYEs later, with my (now) three kids tucked in bed, I hosted (well, sort of) a NYE party for about 300,000 people.
We lived in Vegas at the time, and I was hosting my TV station’s NYE special. I was perched on top of one of the smaller hotels with a fantastic view of the famous Las Vegas Strip. I apologize to my viewers for overusing the phrase “sea of humanity”. But it truly was.
Sin City? It sure lived up to it on that NYE. Metro police were also busy that night.
So another year is almost done, another one beginning. Time marches on. Can’t stop it. Can’t slow it down. So might as well make the most of it. 2011. Bring it on!
As usual, my wife and I threw a party for a few of our friends Smaller this year. Just 25 or 30. But one of my boys decided to throw his own NYE party. He bought a DJ set-up, turned my garage into a dance floor, and invited a few of his friends. Note to parents: if your child sends out an invitation through Facebook, expect more than just a few friends to show up. With our intimate group, I’d say we had close to 200 people here last night. How many kids? You do the math. Note to neighbors: Sorry.
Cat in the drawer
We have a new kitten. Butters. That’s her name. Don’t ask. With so many kids going in and out the doors last night we were worried she’d sneak out and we’d lose her. And for a while thought we did.
My wife went to bed at 1 after I
asked ordered the mass to leave. After cleaning up the mess from the mass, I looked for the cat. For an hour. Butters was gone. So at 3 am I woke up my wife and asked her if she knew where she was. “No, but thanks for waking me up,” she said groggily. “Now I’m worried and can’t sleep.” I could and went to bed. She stayed up for the rest of the night and walked the neighborhood looking for the kitty (with temps in the teens). If you happened to see a woman walking around in her fur coat between 3 and 7 in the morning calling out, “Here Butters”, that might have been her.
I joined her in the search at 7 am. Still no luck. Butters was gone.
An hour later, the light bulb flipped on in my wife’s head. “I found her. I found Butters.” Where was she? You’ll love this one. Keep in mind this is post-NYE partying. You’re tired and not fully with it. At one o’clock, as my wife reached into a drawer for her pajamas, she put the kitten she was holding in her arms into the drawer. And closed it. The cat was still sleeping when my wife opened the drawer 7 hours later. Butters slept soundly. We didn’t.
You’ve heard of “Cat in the Hat”. I think “Cat in the Drawer” is a much more interesting story. And it’s true.