5 Reasons New Year's Ruins Everything Great About Drinking
It's almost New Year's Eve. One of the few officially recognized holidays that not only approves of my habitual binge drinking, but actually requires it. As semi-professional drunks, we've got this, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day (if you're alone) and Halloween (if you're between the ages of 16 and 25). That's a measly four chances a year to tell everybody what we really think of them with relative impunity.
And yet I'm probably doing nothing this year. Just like last year.
But why? With the opportunity coming so infrequently, shouldn't I be leaping at the chance to free my repressed impulses via the liberal application of minor poisons? Absolutely, and come St. Patrick's Day, I will pound too much Jameson and punch a police horse in the face as tradition demands. But New Year's Eve is, quite simply, a bad and broken drinking holiday.
Allow me to explain:
It Comes With a Deadline
There are many things I drink to enhance: My charm, my love of my fellow man, the anecdotal size of my penis and fighting prowess. The one thing I don't drink to enhance is my punctuality. As far as I'm concerned, a good drunk erases vast swathes of time from history. If I can't remember it, I kind of don't believe you when you tell me it happened. Oh, I'll apologize and pay for the damages and yadda yadda yadda -- it's only polite. But the part of my brain that tracks chronology is forever convinced that a blackout means we've jumped forward in time, and are now trapped in a future that is not wholly our own.
And that's fine. If it's good enough for Buck Rogers and Philip J. Fry, it's good enough for me.
Also good enough for me: Silver spandex and robots wearing hip hop clock necklaces.
Besides, it's kind of an unspoken contract that time is irrelevant when drinking is involved. There are only two hours in a bar: Opening and last call.
But not for New Year's Eve. This holiday comes standard with both a built-in drunk and a built-in deadline. Those two things rarely play nice together. We all have to pay attention to that clock for the last half of the night, and that means somebody at the bar is going to be relegated to watch duty.
Correction: That means some buzzkilling asshole is going to be relegated to watch duty.
The New Year's Eve watchkeeper is like a metronome at a Phish concert. They exist only to impose boring old order onto the otherwise chaotic revelry. And we can't even punch their smug faces when they interrupt our impassioned, slurred arguments and whiskey-stanked flirtations to yell at us about numbers, because we know they're a necessity: Ultimately, this night is about marking and observing an hour, no matter how at odds that is with the manifesto of the drunk and celebratory.
Going Out On the Town
New Year's Eve isn't just a drinking holiday; it's a bar holiday. There's a huge difference. Drinking holidays are open-ended: You can and should get your drink on anywhere there are drinks to be on -- be that in a bar, a friend's house or the drainage pipe beneath the Dairy Queen. There are no preset expectations of you on a drinking holiday. As long as you find yourself in an area with like-minded drunks, you are celebrating properly. Not so with New Year's Eve. The general expectation is that you're going someplace special for this particular celebration. While there will inevitably be some house parties to start with, almost all of them will be "going out on the town" for the actual countdown. And "going out on the town" is the absolute worst enemy of the semi-professional drunk. Getting pissed at a bar, house, party, etc.? Fine. That's a primary location deal: You arrive sober and leave with a hilariously misplaced sense of confidence, and that's the end of the story. But factoring a planned secondary location into a drunk?
That way lies madness.
"Going out on the town" introduces logistics where there should be ... I don't know, the opposite of logistics? I don't know that word. What do you call it when you throw logistics in the gutter, piss booze onto them and then light the very concept itself on fire? I mean aside from "a good time" of course.
"Going out on the town" means rides to organize, schedules to write up, tables to reserve, invitations to extend and venues to pick. That's like six more things than a drunk should reasonably be expected to handle, and I only listed five things.
Let's analyze the requirements of other drinking holidays.
St. Patrick's Day requires that you:
Even that last step is sort of optional.
Halloween (between the ages of 16 and 25) requires that you:
Nail somebody dressed like a pop culture reference
The one day a year when good cosplay gets you laid.
And Valentine's Day (alone) requires that you:
Call former partners and scream the wrong lyrics to "Private Eyes" at them
"They're waaaatchin' you, watchin' your ev'ryyyyy mooove *watchin' you* - wah? Don't call the cops! It's romantic!"
It all boils down to this: New Year's Eve is a drinking holiday that takes place out in Society Proper. A good drunk is a small-scale simulation of the total and complete collapse of Society Proper. The only way to mate the two is through impeccable luck, a total disregard for the lives of your fellow man or an astounding amount of money. Speaking of which ...
New Year's Eve almost always requires some sort of formal dress which, as you're about to get hammered halfway across town, you are almost certainly going to lose, burn, puke on or throw at cops while loudly insisting, "No, YOU put some pants on!" The point is: You're going to either ruin the expensive clothes you already have, or be restocking some expensive clothes (because you ruined yours last year).
Then you're going out to a high-priced bar where you're expected to drop at least 7 bucks on a flute of champagne that you're somehow going to regret drinking in advance. Then, unless you're some variety of magical money-excreting fairy or a financially stable human being (I'm not sure which one is rarer these days), you're going to be taking a cab home that you really can't afford.
Fun fact: That's not yellow paint. Taxi cabs are actually embossed in solid gold. No? Well you fucking explain it, then.
For example: Assuming I'm halfway across town and caught in mild traffic, a cab in L.A. would run me 70 bucks, at least.
You know what that is? That's a new video game.
That's how I gauge and understand amounts between 40 and 60 dollars, because I'm a callow man-boy who's bad with money. So that's my baseline comparison: I could buy a brand new video game and play it for a month, or I could take a cab ride home for an hour and a half. I could buy a slightly older game AND a bottle of liquor, or I could spend the run-time of Star Wars in an old Crown Vic with a grumpy Albanian that smells like candles.
I'm sure this is racist, but I'm just not sure how.
There's no contest, really: A cab has no replay value (there's only one level: The Backseat) and poor level design (you're separated from like half of the play area by transparent walls. Total bullshit). Plus, there's only one decent achievement: Not Dying or Murdering Others.
When you weigh video game + drunk against just the ride home from a drunk (that, itself, already cost twice the cab ride), the choice is easy. I'll work through a bottle of JWB while laughably failing to understand portals, thank you.
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.
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.
Buy the first book in Robert's hilarious supernatural thriller trilogy, The Unnoticeables, or read his free cosmic horror anthology, The Day of Knowing. You can also read more from Brockway at his own monument to narcissism, The Brock Way, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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.