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The Column

Thinking Man: Happy New Year
1/1/06

I enjoy most holidays, and I enjoy parties. I like ushering in a New Year, and I have had some fantastic New Year's Eves in my life. But I will also say that New Year's brings out some of the most annoying people in the world, and gives them an excuse to drink.

What did you do for New Year's? I bet I know.

I bet you went to a house party with some people you know and most you don't. You hoped to find someone new to kiss at midnight, but you ended up making out with one of your platonic friends instead. They took it much more seriously than you did, but you'll talk a few days later and agree that it was just a mistake. And when you text message an "are we cool?" they'll write back with a smiley face, even though they resent you and your friendship will never be repaired.

Or maybe that was last year. Wait, I bet I know.

I bet you paid $50 to go to a club with a big group of people you know, so you could dance in the New Year. But as your friends started pairing off with people, you noticed you were strikingly alone. You got desperate, started drinking more, and danced with anyone who didn't physically push you away. By midnight, you were so wasted you couldn't even see the ball drop (which was dropping on mute on a 10 inch TV in the corner of the club). You couldn't find your friends, so you took a cab home - which cost another $50.

Sorry - that was two years ago. Wait, I bet I know.

I bet you stayed in and watched TV with your significant other. The two of you said, "forget about the traditional New Year's celebrations! We'll have much more fun by ourselves!" You did everything you could to make it not like a normal night. Wore hats, bought noisemakers, even watched Dick Clark. And then you realized that New Year's without the party is much more boring than a normal night. At 11:30, you were exhausted and just wanted to go to sleep. Forget New Year's sex, it was time to get some shuteye. You did what you could to stay up until midnight, when you watched the ball drop and realized you can't even see it drop because the idiot cameraman moved the camera down at the same speed as the ball. At least you timed your yawn perfectly to coincide with the countdown.

My mistake, that was three years ago. Wait, I bet I know.

I bet you took a big holiday trip to New York just in time for the New Year. Times Square on New Year's Eve has got to be amazing, right? In the way that getting a purple heart for being shot during combat is amazing - because you lived through it. You headed down to Times Square in insanely cold weather; New Year's Eve is always 15 degrees colder than the night before or after. You packed yourself into a sea of other tourists, acting like you were excited about the experience when really you just wanted to go inside and warm up. You couldn't see a thing from where you were standing, and by the fourteenth chorus of "Auld Lang Syne" you cursed your friends who dragged you to Times Square. Even though you were the one who suggested it.

Damn, that was four years ago. Wait, I bet I know.

You decided to host your own New Year's party. Why go somewhere else when your friends can come to you? So your friends came to you. Well, some of them. Many of them already promised to attend parties planned with much notice than your own. 15-20 people come over and pretended to be much drunker than they were. You know you could only afford the cheap champagne, so they were definitely pretending. At midnight, one of your platonic friends tried to kiss you, ruining the friendship and leading to subsequent text messages. And another friend threw up on your carpet.

Unless that was five years ago. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the pressure to have fun on New Year's is a myth, everyone always has fantastic plans, and I'm just making this all up.

Hold on, I'm getting a text message.

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