New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year (hell, the last day of the decade!), and everyone generally agrees the holiday sucks.  Why?  Are we hungover from too much fruitcake (read: cookies, chocolate), grog (read: anything with alcohol), friends (read: family)?  Are we just over the damn holidays already, and would like to fast-forward to late-February?  I’ve had some good New Year’s Eves, some bad New Year’s Eves, and some that were both.  As a kid, we often cooked elaborate meals prepared for the dining room, dressed up in fancy-schmancy clothes and watched the opera Die Fledermaus (the same version, each year) on TV.  (I’ll give you a moment to stop laughing.)  Oh, and my parents would have clues under our plates as to a trip we would be taking in the New Year, be it the Carribbean, Disney World or someplace cold.

Yup, now we're European snobs.

In those awkward teenage years when I should’ve been rebelling but wasn’t, New Year’s Eve was often dinner and a show in the city (the most memorable being the Chicago revival), or sometimes a lame party.

The best New Year’s Eves were the post-college years, with good buddies, imbibing w-a-y too much, a couple of times at the good old Library Bar on the Lower East Side, or Tribe, or throwing dinner parties in each other’s sixth-borough apartments.  That was my now-respectable friend parking my old Ford Explorer in the middle of a snow bank!  An old friend we’ve now lost touch with drinking too much tequila, eating cold pizza and booting to welcome in the New Year!  Drinking too much pre-game champagne and falling asleep, only to wake up buried under a pile of coats in the back of some bar!  Ah, good times.  My favorite one of this variety was the year, throwing ’em back at Lau in Hoboken, when a few of us, right before midnight, peered into the forthcoming year and wrote it off, then and there, completely.  We toasted the next year.

Not recommended for mothers.

Last New Year’s Eve I ate and drank with the folks at good old Andiamo, and let me just say my mom got way tipsy on, of all things, limoncello (she is, predictably, a delight tipsy).  I, of course, stayed until the wee hours and was sent home in a car service.

The best New Year’s, as so often happens, occurs in the movies, and that’s Billy Crystal as Harry Burns in When Harry Met Sally…, typing by Nora Ephron, lensing by Rob Reiner.  Remember Harry, running through an empty Manhattan, with his voice-over?  He talks about Mallomars and Dick Clark and shooting the winning basket for the Knicks, and then he ends it face-to-face with Meg Ryan’s Sally Albright:  “And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”  And I guess that’s what we all want on New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year!

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