A quote from the comedic goddess Janeane Garofalo: “I prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth.” Preach. That pretty much sums up my view of life in general, but New Year’s Eve in particular.
I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of New Year’s or its accoutrements. I hate the pressure it brings to do “something” big. I hate most of the options that define “something.” I hate revelers and being reminded of the fact that, due to faulty wiring, I myself am incapable of reveling in anything but my own snark. But most of all, I hate staring time in the face.
Those last 10 seconds of the year – the tortuous downward slide of the crystal ball – kill me. I find it physically and mentally uncomfortable to just stare helplessly as another year disintegrates. For me, it’s like a “my-whole-life-flashed-before-me” experience, and all I want to do is reach into my head, grab a few memories, and make them the now.
What, I ask you, is so mesmerizing about a ginormous crystal-covered sphere that, at any other time, would be mistaken for a light fixture in the kind of uber-tacky suburban wedding venue that advertises on TV? Why is it appealing to watch the present slip away and know you can’t stop it? I can only assume that normal people get caught up in the excitement. That they feel hope for the future and the amazing things it might have in store for them. And I guess I can understand how, if a given year dealt you a particularly shitty hand, you might welcome its demise. But still. I, not being normal, feel dread for the future and the horrible things it might have in store. I feel sadness and loss about all the things I said I would do, didn’t do, and probably never will do. About every New Year’s Eve of yore. About getting older, and getting further away from childhood and the point in life at which there were still good possibilities. For all my failures and weaknesses. For all the things I wish were different but can’t be. The glass is always half empty. Sometimes I’m not even sure there IS a glass. But there’s always a fucking ball. And it’s horrible.
So whenever it’s remotely feasible, I stay home on New Year’s Eve and avert my eyes from the torture of the evil orb. And I do my absolute best to suck in any would-be reveler who’s part of my immediate circle to this December 31st miasma.
But 2015 saw the birth of one of my favorite obsessions (see Angels, Demons and Bloodsuckers): Coney Island, a magical land of benevolent creepiness at the end of the subway line. It is a piece of old New York whose quirky goodness I try to support however I can. A few weeks ago, it came to my attention that an official New Year’s Eve soiree was taking place at the very home of my beloved Circus Sideshow. Going would mean helping a great cause, and the evening promised performance art, a laser light show, fire-breathing, Mermaid Pilsner a-plenty, relatively clean bathrooms, and a certain destined-for-greatness (and also possibly esophageal rupture) sword swallower. Plus, Marie, a local artist, neighborhood expert, and all-around great person I know from my days as a cub reporter, would be there. But wait! There’s more! There would be NO. BALL. Repeat. There would be NO BALL.
Sword swallower NO BALL, you say? A ball-less New Year’s Eve?! Tell me more, I’m intrigued. The call of the 11224 wild overpowered my hatred of New Year’s Eve and my ridonculously understanding husband obliged. The shows were amazing and exactly the way they should be: packed with F-bombs, lighter fluid, tattoos, 8-pound swords, jokes about dirty underwear and ecstasy, and the perfect amount of camp. Hashtag #creeptastic. The backdrop at midnight was epic – fireworks on one of the world’s most famous boardwalks; the illuminated Parachute Jump, North Star of southern Brooklyn; the smell of popcorn and cold air; the ladies Marie introduced us to so we didn’t look like friendless looz-airs.
Please don’t spread this around. I have a rep to maintain. But I think I accidentally reveled a little bit.
Behind us on the boardwalk were Coney Island’s historic rides, the landmarked Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the iconic wooden roller coaster known to most as the Cyclone and to me as the Certain-Puke-o-Rama. I was 100% confident I would never experience either of them, because I hate roller coasters and rides and pretty much everything. But I said that about New Year’s Eve too, so now … I’m only 90% sure.