Sleeping Through the Party

A Different Way to Spend New Year's Eve

I lifted my head off the pillow: The clock read 12:27 AM. I pumped one fist in the air: Yes! I had done it. I had?avoided New Year’s Eve.

This, then, was rock bottom. It was even worse than New Year’s Eve 1997. That was four days after a tonsillectomy. I had cradled my throbbing ears (your ears do hurt after a tonsillectomy?as I discovered, the difficult way, it’s all connected up there), begging God for the approach of midnight. Not that I could barely wait to usher in a brand new year, but four hours had passed since my last codeine dose, and it was time for a beautiful new pill.

A new strategy
This time I arrived at rock bottom courtesy of a very serious ex, who had very seriously dumped me. New Year’s had been a special night for us, and rather than marking the occasion by sitting and sulking, or kicking around town to Show Him Up, I chose an entirely new direction: I would be unconscious.

It was a first for me, this purposeful avoidance of an historic occasion. You are reading the words of a person who attended the 2001 Presidential inauguration and took pictures of the swearing-in ceremony?as it took place on a big-screen TV. To mindfully miss the turning of the new year was fairly huge stuff. But so was the pain. So I slept. I hid.

The Alf years
Somewhere in my parents’ basement there exists a photograph of a very young me, wearing legwarmer pajamas (don’t ask; this was approximately 1987 and I am not responsible for my actions?no one was responsible for their actions in 1987). I am reclining against my ALF doll (again?1987) wearing a party hat and holding one of those obnoxious party horns. This, I thought, was how one partied.

Irrational fear and New Year’s
Although I’m old enough to recline against other, more interesting dates, I haven’t quite shaken the fear that the way I spend December 31st will mark me for the entire year. It’s not the case, fortunately, or I would have passed all of 1997 feeding on Popsicles and trading kidneys for Tylenol 3. But I’ve now, unfortunately, been infused with an adult sense of If-I’m-not-doing-something-cool-on-New-Year’s-Eve-all-is-lost and that awful fear that was so well voiced on Friends: “You have to have someone to kiss when the ball comes down!”

I haven’t quite shaken any of that, but I do know one thing. That rock-bottom New Year’s Eve was almost a year ago. In the interim I’ve moved to Florida in a flurry of Dave Barry books and prayers, kicked a few asses, written my first rent check, bobbed in the ocean, and experienced some damn fine wines.

Doesn’t sound like I’ve been asleep at all.

Mary Beth Ellis

Mary Beth Ellis writes from Orlando, Florida.