What's with the change?

Set your face for disappointment

May 28, 2013

I had one of those nights last week when everything is left by the wayside (including dinner) because I was sucked into a movie. I’m not a huge movie fan- there’s something about sitting down for two or so hours (unless it’s with a book) that feels like time wasting.
But it was Ghostbusters 2, a childhood favourite that I watched countless times at my grandparents’ house (a VCR was a luxury not afforded to us).
It was fun yelling “We’ve been there!” at the landmarks but it also served to remind us of one of the most underwhelming experiences: New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

The old Times Square ball.

A timeline of NYEs

January 1st, 2011 12 am: drunk in a Paris park watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle no differently to every other hour of the night. “Imagine being in Times Square,” I said. “Let’s do it!” Almost at the end of a UK working holiday, we had vague notions of doing it again in Canada.

January 1st, 2012 12 am: tipsy on a grassy hill in Marion Bay, Tasmania, watching the Kooks wrap up their set at the Falls Festival. “I wonder where we’ll be next New Year’s Eve,” I said. “Times Square?” Having paid off Europe-laden credit cards, we were beginning to squirrel away again with a less vague notion of Canada.

January 1st, 2013 12 am: stone cold sober in Times Square watching the confetti sprinkle down six blocks away.

We weren’t going to attempt it. I’d done some research and discovered the fun police rules for a Spartan NYE. You weren’t allowed bags or drinks. But why would you drink when there aren’t any toilets?

The arrogance is quite endearing ­– ‘we know you’re going to come anyway so why should we bother?’

Our other option was to go to a New York ‘party’ at a pub with an open bar and free party favors. Party favors seemed to be the clincher on each ad. What the hell is a party favor?

Can you see? Me neither

On the off chance you didn’t want to hover awkwardly behind people sitting at the bar, tickets for these parties averaged around a couple of hundred dollars. Reminiscent of being a skinny kid at an all-you-can-eat, an open bar is kind of wasted on me. I could picture myself trying to get my money’s worth of grog and the elegant image of singing Auld Lang Syne into the toilet bowl. I’m sure the acoustics are great in the dunny though.

In the end we were sold on the idea of Times Square by the rather kooky guesthouse owner’s fairly logical advice: You’re here, you may as well. A lot of strategic planning went into the night. Following our trip to the laundromat (I was out of clean undies and didn’t want to bring in 2013 wearing swimmers), we cooked a spaghetti bolognaise for linner around 4pm, deliberately dehydrated ourselves and
got into Times Square for 6pm. My old shift at the petrol station was 6pm-12 and I tried to remember if I’d got through a shift without using the toilet. It was hovering around 2 degrees outside so it was quite similar to the petrol station coolroom. 

We knew they’d be closing off the blocks as the crowd filed in, turning Broadway and 7th Avenue into two gigantic queues trying to get into the ‘bowtie’, where all the fun stuff happens. Even the name is smug. A fervent discussion ensued- Broadway or 7th? We went 7th because you could see “the ball”. But the trade off, we discovered, was a lack of sound or big screens. If we squinted, we could almost see the bands playing on the screen under the ball. I think I saw that Korean guy doing those horsey legs or whatever they’re called. Maybe it was a blessing there was no sound.

Let's go crazy!

Each hour a pissy firework went off and we laughed at how slow an hour could possibly be. Around us in our pig pen, people endured the boredom; jumping on the spot, sitting back to back like war-wearied refugees or half-heartedly blowing a vuvuzela. We got quite good at eye spy and musical charades. 

Midnight approached and a tiny flicker of excitement stirred. The waiting, the lack of entertainment- it was all going to be worth it to stand under that tonne of confetti and sing Auld Lang Syne. There was a countdown from a ridiculously high number and the speck of light slowly going down. Slightly less pissy fireworks shot out from the building and the bowtie was drenched in confetti. I souvenired the one piece that flew down to us. After the vuvuzelas dropped off, I heard Auld Lang Syne faintly from the speakers on Broadway. But it could've just been wishful thinking. There were no linked arms, people swaying as a united, joyous mass. There certainly wasn't a walking Statue of Liberty. Just a hunt for a toilet.

Our share of the tonne of confetti

Lesson learnt (courtesy of the Old Man):

If you don’t try these things, you’re missing out on the chance to experience life’s greatest disappointments.