#2. The Music
Nobody knows the lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne."
Nobody ever has. Nobody ever will. But at some point, you're all going to have to sing it anyway, and share the unique form of embarrassment that getting lyrics wrong, loudly and in public, entails.
"Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never yab to bye, adaaa dada banana boat, and auld lang synnne." -- You. You're the guy on the right. You're always the guy on the right.
#1. The Letdown
But honestly? None of those things are enough to keep a good, dedicated drunk from ruining somebody's holiday. I'd still go out if those were the only qualifications preventing me from doing it. The real reason I'm not celebrating New Year's Eve this year is the same reason nobody my age is going to. Because we've already done it ... back in 1999.
There's no point in doing that one over. It was a drinking holiday that, under normal circumstances, marks an end to things. And in this particular case, it was also possibly the last night on earth. If you were of drinking age (or a reasonable facsimile) on December 31st, 1999, you've beaten New Years. You saw the congratulatory text, watched the credits roll and were kicked back out to the title screen. That shit is done.
All downhill from here.
No, most of us weren't stupid enough to buy into that apocalypse talk: Everybody knew the world wasn't going to end, not really, but it was a prevalent enough idea that we all kind of gave each other the unspoken permission to act on it. On New Year's Eve, 1999, I was getting hammered in a college dorm with a guy who'd just had his face slashed open by the cuckolded husband of an angry stripper ... earlier that night. He didn't even bother with the hospital because there was a line and hell, what if the idiots were right and this was it? He wasn't going to miss what was potentially the last party in history. On New Year's Eve, 1999, I accidentally bought black tar heroin from a bridge troll, shared a flask with a riot cop (they were supposed to be checking for liquor, but they just took a sip when they found it) and somehow wound up at the front of the stage in Pioneer Square. When the news networks did the televised check-in as the ball dropped -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland -- there I was ...
Making out with my roommate's girlfriend. In front of 50,000 people and the national television crews.
Pictured: Pioneer Courthouse Square, Me, 50,000 other people. Not Pictured: Restraint, common sense, shame.
Yep: The national networks chose us to represent the state of Oregon for their "millennial kiss" montage. I don't remember this actually happening, of course: My aunt called me the next morning to say she saw me on the TV, and to ask who my new lady friend was. And there I was, made a fugitive in the timestream again, facing a world that was much like my own, but slightly worse. Like a hungover Slider. When I fell out of my bed and crawled over to inform/apologize to my roommate, he nodded once curtly, and we never spoke of it again.
After all, he had probably done worse. You see, this anecdote isn't meant as braggadocio; in fact, it's probably the tamest story you'll hear from anybody that year. As far as the world was concerned, bridge trolls and heroin and stripper knife-fights and televised adultery was a loss. I might as well have spent that night spreading mayonnaise on white bread for all the relative excitement I'd had. For once, everybody in the world was just as stupidly irresponsible as me, if not more so. And it was glorious and terrible and oddly beautiful, all at once. Frankly, it's a wonder Y2K wasn't a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So it just seems kind of disrespectful to have one too many whiskey sours and throw up in a Prius now, then try to call it the same holiday as Ragnarok: The Drinking Game.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Or you can chime in with your own best New Year's story in the comments, and experience the thrill of Internet Badasses calling you a pussy and one-upping you!
For more from Brockway, check out The Cracked.com Open Bar: An Incomplete Recollection and The Brave Tale of Maxwell the Dinosaur and Dr. Prehistoria.