Let’s time travel back to 2003.
My worst New Year’s Eve ever.
Like most best-laid plans, my New Year’s Eve started off quietly. I’d been working my arse off all week talent scouting–my job at the time (don’t do it!)–and was actually looking forward to an excuse not to work for a few hours. (To illustrate: most new talent scouts get two or three “shows” at their Open Calls…I had SIXTEEN.) Dennis and I got invited by our friend Suze to come out to Ackworth (translation: we got invited to drive nearly an hour to go to her parents’ house in Deepest Darkest Suburbia) and we were both up for seeing Suze and having a mellow, pleasant New Year’s Eve with friends. We both love Suze and her boyfriend Marty and one of Susan’s greatest gifts is taking a diverse group of people and turning them all into close friends within an hour or two. We figured we’d meet some old friends and make some new ones, and the added lure of being able to spend the night (after presumably downing many Ab-Fabs (Stoli-Bolly cocktails) all night to welcome in the New Year) was the clincher.
So Dennis and I pack up our kit bags and stop off for provisions and set out for the nether regions of Atlanta. When we arrive, Susan and her friend Heather (and, lest we forget, Susan’s family’s dog, Chewie) were the only attendees.
Which was actually fine with Dennis and me. I was worn out from having to approach hundreds of strangers a day, and from walking miles and miles through malls and bars and clubs and grocery stores (I even recruited talent at the movie theatre and a Waffle House). Dennis was looking forward to being able to drink freely and then not get pulled for a DUI. We all settled in to watch “Cujo” and “Poltergeist”, waiting for Marty to get off work and join us.
It was far too quiet for Susan, though, and she and Heather started calling up friends, former bosses and a mall maintenance man they befriended and who they call “D’oh” because of his startling resemblance to Homer Simpson. It’s a tribute to Susan’s friendly and well-meaning personality that D’oh embraces his nickname and likes it.
After a few dozen phone calls, people started to arrive en masse at Susan’s place. Her parents, knowing full well that Suze can be a hellion, nevertheless entrusted their lovely home to the mongol hordes that would inevitably descend. We all wrote a collaborative, artistic “thank you” to Mom and Pops V to thank them for their hospitality even while in absentia.
The hordes actually consisted of less than two dozen people, but that was the perfect amount to invite over. No one was at a loss for someone to talk to. In fact, some of us would rather not have been talked to quite as enthusiastically. That would be me.
quartet of men showed up, two hailing from Wisconsin. Of the two Wisconsinites, one was well-behaved and charming.
Which leaves, of course, the other one. He took a shine to me, which shows his lack of selectivity overall, and would NOT leave me alone all night. I’m not talking about merely flirting with me and me being disinterested, though that was certainly accurate.
He got off on the wrong foot with me immediately by grabbing me far too intimately within the first two seconds after being introduced to me and not taking a hint when I disengaged and walked away. He further pissed me off by declaring that my name was too difficult for him to retain and that he’d call me by an annoying nickname that he preferred instead. To which I replied, “I’d rather you did not, I want to be called by my real name. Only my close friends are allowed to call me nicknames and you are not a close friend.” He did not learn from either of these two “you’re being annoying” reprimands and continued to harass me all evening.
At first I dealt with The Annoying Man by merely avoiding close proximity. Everyone else at the party was civil and well-behaved and interesting. It was just the one clown who was being insufferably boorish. I’d see him coming and duck into another area as fast as I could. This was my way of being tactful, and it failed miserably.
At one point, things improved when The Annoying Man demanded that Susan, a beautician and hair stylist, break out her scissors and tools and give him a haircut in her parents’ kitchen. Susan, being an accommodating soul, did so.
Dennis came out to the back porch where the smokers (i.e., everyone) were hanging out and told me I was being paged to the kitchen. Foolishly, I assumed that he meant I was being summoned by our hostess, Susan. So I trot in there and make the mistake of getting within lunging reach of The Annoying Man. I soon discover that Susan wasn’t the one seeking me out, it was him. Dorkus Maximus. And he lunged, and I was dragged bodily onto his lap, which was the last place in the universe I wanted to be at the moment (unless the possibility of facing down an angry, hungry, fang-endowed basilisk in a disgusting, nasty, swilly sewer pipe a la Harry Potter was my other choice).
I didn’t haul off and clobber him immediately, actually. I sat there for about thirty seconds and hated every moment of it. If loathing were visible to the naked eye, you’d have seen waves of it streaking out in all directions looking just like vile green oily tentacles.
I tried to make a joke out of it, to give the guy the option of wriggling out of his social blunder. I asked “Santa” if I could have a Barbie, since I’d been a good girl all year. And Santa Fuckhead said no, but he’d bring me some crotchless underwear.
Not even remotely funny.
And, of course, if this dork insists on playing Santa six days too late AND refuses to grant me my Christmas request, then friendship is not in the stars for us.
I escaped and resolved that the time for gentle hints and evasion was now over. Direct and forceful rejection would perhaps work better. I’d tried politeness, hints, humour and hiding, and none of those methods was getting me anywhere. Much as I dislike being openly negative, I could see no other way. But I wasn’t in any hurry to deal with it, so I attempted evasion and distraction instead.
While I was busily evading the fuckhead, the time for the New Year to arrive drew nigh and we all stopped listening to Dennis’ kick-ass music DVDs and started tuning into Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, where the 2,000 year old Clark beamed in a frankly non-geriatric manner and then proved his continued mental agility when he managed to count backwards at the appropriate moment without a hitch.
Meanwhile I was busily fending off The Annoying Man in the kitchen, while I was trying to remove delicate glassware from a high cabinet. He felt that this would be the perfect time to press up against me and grab things he shouldn’t. “For god’s sake, will you PLEASE fuck OFF,” I snarled, juggling stemware.
Too bad that was the last thing I said in 2002. Not a great way to end what was essentially a crappy year for me overall, but at least I saw the year out assertively.
The Annoying Man then attempted to follow me around and force a kiss on me and I managed to escape that fate, but it took about thirty minutes for him to give up on the concept. He managed to put his hands all over me and several other people who were just as unthrilled with the bodily assault as I was.
Things got worse after someone broke out some pot. No names will be mentioned. In fact, so we can continue to receive generous funding from family-friendly advertisers, let’s revise that and say “things got worse after someone broke out the funny cigarettes”.
If you’re confused about what a funny cigarette might be, here’s a helpful chart:
Funny Cigarette (a.k.a. Mary Jane, The Chronic, Cheeba):
Je suis un transvestite executive! Le singe est sur le table! J’aime la plume de ma tante. Anyone slower than you on the highway is an idiot. Anyone faster than you is a maniac. I’m picking out a thermos for YOU…
Mildly Amusing Cigarette (a.k.a. Those Damned Sampoerna Clove Things):
Take my wife, please! I just flew in from Wisconsin and BOY are my arms tired! Jalapeno on a steeek! S’okay? S’all right. *sledgehammer to a watermelon*
Plain Ol’ Ordinary Cigarette (a.k.a. Available at all fine gas stations and grocery stores near you):
Wait a minute…WHAT generous funding?! “Family friendly”? How can my blog be family friendly when my favourite word is “fuck” and variations thereof? (YOU know. Fuckity, fuckwit, fuck-all, fuckhead, fuck it, fukt, you fuckin’ fuck…you get the idea.) Geez, did I get into the wacky weed, too? (I plead the fifth.) Well, hell. Never mind. It was marijuana. We’re all adults here. All nine of us. Me and my eight faithful Gentle Readers. (Hello. How Are Ya?)
So we’re all on the back porch watching Susan’s creepy neighbors The Swingers blow shit up in their driveway and we’re drinking Stoli-Bollies (champagne + vodka = make happy nice), and The Annoying Man keeps trying to pull me aside to explain why he’s being so persistent. I tell him I don’t give a damn, and that he needs to chill out.
“There’s no such word,” he slurs.
“I’m telling you to back off, you’re freaking me out, you idiot,” I say.
“No,” he says, petulantly sticking his lower lip out and trying to grab my body parts.
“YES,” I say, and I squirm away and vanish.
Meanwhile The Swingers are happily setting their lawn on fire with high-tech explosives. It’s a great big happy pyrotechnic joyfest at The Swingers’ Pad.
…. ? ….
Oh, did I not explain about them? The Swingers are these creepy neighbors of the V family. Among their many sins:
1. The Swingers attempted to ingratiate themselves with the V family and friends by leaning over the back fence and repeatedly bragging on Madam Swinger’s culinary prowess. Finally, in a fit of boredom and misplaced optimism, some of the Vs and friends took them up on their dinner invite, whereupon Madam Swinger opened up a can of pork ‘n’ beans and a can of corn and nuked them both in the microwave. Emeril she is not.
2. The V family cut down some trees on their property and installed a fabulous pool and sun deck. The good news is that the pool is awesome. The bad news is that the missing trees enable them to see more of their neighbors and vice versa. The Swingers took it upon themselves to build a stone walkway from their property to the V’s pool gate. This means that they were constructing a walkway across the V’s land as well as their own, all without benefit of an introduction first, getting permission from anyone or even having a casual “Hi-diddly-doodly-ho-howdy there, neighbor!” relationship beforehand. The Vs removed the stone walkway in hopes that the presumptuous arseholes would take a hint that the Vs had not just invested thousands of dollars to build the community swimming pool.
3. Failing to grasp a clue, The Swingers invited themselves over, skanky female friend in tow. The skanky female friend then ostentatiously hit on Pops V in front of Mom V. This did not go over well in the V household, or with the friends of the Vs who were visiting at the time.
4. There are numerous other tales of woe, but most of them involve The Swingers playing the role of The Fat Naked Guy As Seen On The TV Show “Friends” (i.e., failing to close their blinds) and, conversely, peeping out of their unclosed blinds at Susan and the other Vs and their friends at all hours of the day and night in a rather creepily scary manner.
We chose not to engage The Swingers in cheery New Year’s Eve saluations. Marty said that they were probably trying to lure innocent neighbors over to their squalid shack d’amour with loud noises, flashing lights and scary sex toys.
All that they succeeded in doing is getting another neighbor, a redneck, ganked up on macho firework-related showmanship, and the two households proceeded to try and blow each other (and the few remaining trees on the block) up all night. Big fun. Poor Chewie hid under a table after a few hours of this nonsense.
Dennis put the music back on and lots of pictures were taken, including one of The Annoying Guy passed out under a bonsai on the back porch.
Shortly afterwards, his friends noticed he was missing. He’d wandered off. There was speculation about whether The Swingers had found him or not. We decided that we didn’t much care.
He, unfortunately, turned up again after we’d all enjoyed about a half hour of relative peace and tranquility, and he honed in on Yours Truly once more. At this moment, we all heard a loud crash coming from the bathroom. Susan’s friend Peaches had managed to break the shower curtain rod and tear the shower curtain down. This provided some welcome distraction, as far as I was concerned. I fled towards the noise and by doing so managed to evade the octopussy grasp of Yohn Yohnson, Annoying Man from Wisconsin.
Peechee’s husband Clegg was holding forth about The Jesus on the back porch, and it says a lot that I was more willing to hear all about how The Jesus was the only viable religion and how all others, including those humans who might choose to be pagan, Jewish, agnostic, Catholic (!?), Buddhist or Other, were wrong, than I was to endure close proximity to the scary Cheesehead. Of course, I couldn’t stand it for long.
Places to hide were becoming fewer and fewer, and the Annoying Man was becoming bolder and bolder. He grabbed me again while I was talking to Marty and Dennis about Urban Legends, interrupting a particularly amusing Marty Anecdote.
“Back off and leave me alone NOW,” I said, angrily. His friends apologized profusely to me and took him aside and told him he was being an arsehole and to cut it out.
“No,” he said.
“YES,” they said.
“I don’t WANNA,” he replied.
Then he bolted, ran down the back porch steps into the night and vanished again. This resulted in a collective sigh of relief from everyone except the poor guy who drove everyone to the party, as he envisioned spending the rest of his evening hunting down Yohn Yohnson somewhere in the neighborhood while it was raining.
“This is the third time he’s wandered off,” said Mike, who was looking like he regretted having friends from Wisconsin…even though he, too, was actually from Wisconsin. (He also claims to have been employed as a cheese-maker for the government. This is not helping the stereotypes die down, you know.)
At about three am, everyone was ready to call it a night.
Unfortunately, Yohn Yohnson had not yet returned from his night wanderings. His friends all trooped to the front door and fanned out through the neighborhood, combing it for signs of wanker spoor.
Much later, they returned and announced that they had had no joy, he was still missing. Someone had the bright idea to search the house again and lo, the miscreant was sleeping like a baby in a bedroom downstairs, having apparently slipped past his friends and snuck in through the garage. They all decided that perhaps it would be best to just leave the idiot there to sleep it all off, and they bid us adieu and the folks who had opted to spend the night (Dennis, me, Marty and Suze) all filed into our respective bedrooms and passed out from fatigue and too much party.
I had forgotten to bring night clothes (I usually don’t bother with any when I’m sleeping in my own bed) but I had been given a big pile of blankets. I decided that I didn’t want to remake a king-sized bed the next day, so just took off my jeans and shoes and made a little warm blanket nest and curled up on top of the spread with some blankets over me. And that was extremely cozy, so I managed to fall asleep easily.
At four am or so, the door to the bedroom I was staying in burst open and the crazy man ran in with wide, red-rimmed eyes. Shit! I thought I’d locked that door! Needless to say, I woke up immediately. He then jumped on top of me, ripped all the covers off me and tried to pin me to the mattress, all while sobbing incoherently about some man being downstairs with a gun trying to sodomize him.
I was not very sympathetic, as you might imagine. I asked, rather stupidly, what the fuck he was doing in my bedroom. He didn’t respond, he just wailed and thrashed and tried to grab some of my limbs. I then leapt out of the bed and told him to get the fuck out of the bedroom, and he, unsurprisingly, didn’t. I then got the fuck out of the bedroom myself, leaving him to do whatever he had to do by himself, which seemed to be sobbing, screaming, yelling, flailing a lot, and tearing up the Parental V’s nicely made bed. (And yes, I was unable to knee him in the balls, though I tried.)
I grabbed my coat, put it on, picked up my purse, jeans and shoes, and then I stomped downstairs in what can only be termed “a high dudgeon” where I found Dennis clutching his clothing to his naked bod. He’d been awakened by all the screams and banging around upstairs. I turned my back while he got dressed and we both went back upstairs to try and prise the crazy man out of the Parental V’s bedroom so I could get back to sleep. He refused to depart, and took a swing at Dennis. I spoke in my Stern Voice to him and he still refused to straighten up and get the fuck out. (Well, that shouldn’t have come as a shock–the Stern Voice technique didn’t work in “Cujo” either. What was I thinking?)
He tried to kill Dennis again, throwing him into the Patental V’s nice dresser, scattering some no doubt expensive knick knacks and toiletry items hither and yon. Dennis and I glanced at each other and wordlessly agreed to retreat to the kitchen.
We then tried to make sense of what had just occurred. It wasn’t really possible, given our collective shock, fatigue and annoyance. And before we could come to any useful conclusions, the crazy man found us in the kitchen and started jabbering about the man with the gun trying to give him head. Needless to say, there was no masked, gun-toting ween-sucker in the household. The only armed and dangerous person in the household at that moment was the crazy man.
Here is an example of Unfairness and Bad Luck. Earlier in the evening, I asked Susan’s boyfriend Marty if he could get me a fork. It took him three tries to find the correct drawer, and he’s been dating Susan for over a year now. It’s not like he hasn’t ever been in the kitchen when utensils were removed from their designated spot. Unfortunately for us, the crazy man found the appropriate drawer on his first try and started brandishing a huge and very scary steak knife at us, still yammering away about his imaginary trauma.
And when you’re on the wrong end of a sharp pointy thing, it tends to look even larger and more pointy than it really happens to be. Take my word for this.
“We need to leave now,” I said, quite reasonably. Dennis concurred. We slipped out of the kitchen and went to collect our things. When the crazy man left the kitchen as well, I went back in and got the bottles of alcohol I’d brought that it turns out no one but me actually liked. (Every other alcoholic substance in the house had long since been consumed and I figured that the last thing the crazy (drunk) man needed was access to more booze.) And then when he went back into the kitchen, presumably to corner me again with tales about his psychotic fantasies, I again slipped out the other entrance and ran off, picked up all my things in the bedroom, and met Dennis in the foyer. At this point, we fled, shrieking, into the night.
Well, okay, there was no shrieking. But we got the fuck out of there. With great haste.
Ten seconds later, Dennis realizes that he’s still too drunk to drive, and we can see cop cars everywhere. I, on the other hand, am nowhere near being drunk. Even if I had been, I think that the attack by the large, sweaty, stinky, screaming man would have sobered me up. Our first order of business is to pull over so I can drive instead, which we do. Then we debate what we should do next.
See, Marty and Suze were sound asleep throughout all this commotion, and we started to worry about them. After all, they are unconscious in a house with a crazy person running around. And the crazy person is ranting and brandishing a big, scary, serrated knife. And he’s seeing people who aren’t there and sobbing and, in general, acting like a big dork, and these are all Bad Things.
We debated about what we should do for about ten miles, and then decided to go back. This is what you should never do in a horror movie, of course. Needless to say, we were a bit scared. Remember, we’d been watching “Cujo” and “Poltergeist” earlier in the evening. I suppose that there were some after effects from this.
Oh my God, The Crazy Man could be carving up our drunk, unconscious (and probably nekkid) friends RIGHT NOW!!!
We also realized that I’d left my only watch and two expensive rings, and that Dennis had left without some of his CDs, but, of course, the foremost deciding factor was our growing concern for Marty and Susan. We planned to park the car across the street and go around to the back door of the house (which leads into Susan’s bedroom) to let them know there was a problem. I tried calling Susan’s mobile, and no one answered. This freaked us out more. Then I tried calling the house phone.
V Household: *heavy breathing*
V Household: Jeremy!
Me: *puzzled pause* Um, Marty?
Oh, it’s The Crazy Man: *wailing* Jeremy?
Me: May I speak to Marty, please?
The Crazy Man: JEREMY! HELP ME!
Me: Um, no, I need to speak to Marty.
The Crazy Man: JEREMY! JEREMY! SAVE ME! HELP! HELP!
Me: NOT Jeremy! Marty!
The Crazy Man: Jeremy!
The Crazy Man: *screaming and sobbing* JEREMY! JEREMY! JEREMY!
The Crazy Man: *more shrieking and hiccoughing* JEREMY!!! AIIIIEEEEEERRRRGGGHH!!!!
Me: Oh, for fuck’s sake! *click*
I called twice, and that’s pretty much how both phone calls went.
When we returned, the house was ominously silent. Using Secret Squirrel Spy Signals, Dennis and I sneakily crept into the garage and then into the downstairs of the house where, fortunately, Marty and Susan were now awake and alert. Better yet, they did not appear to be traumatized.
Unfortunately, they had been awakened by the crazy man, who ran into their room, ripped the covers off of them and screamed. They were both butt-naked, and the crazy guy still had the knife in his hand. Marty had better luck with his Stern Voice than I did, and the crazy guy dropped the knife and curled into a fetal ball, giving Marty and Suze enough time to dress themselves.
At this point, Marty had had enough nonsense out of this reject and threw him out of the house into the rain. Eventually he also dialed up the crazy man’s friend, who arrived back at the house shortly after Dennis and I returned.
We all shared our exciting experiences and collected our forgotten belongings and then I drove Dennis’ car to the Waffle House, where we both ate and giggled somewhat hysterically for a while. And then we went home.
Dennis tells me that whatever you do on New Year’s Eve sets the tone for the rest of your year. I say that I hope that this only applies to events prior to the Big Ball Drop, because otherwise I’m majorly screwed. I don’t think I have the stamina to fend off psychopaths for the next 365 days. Besides, prior to midnight, we all had a great time. The curtain rod was still unbroken. Clegg had not yet begun to proselytize on the back porch. The Annoying Man was merely annoying and persistent, not crazy and holding a knife and jumping on people in the middle of the night.
That, dear readers, was the worst New Year’s Eve party EVER.