New Year's Eve 2007
I'm in a bar in Brooklyn across the street from Talia's apartment. There's a band playing, and hipsters as far as the eye can see. Shortly after we arrive I realize that I have to go to the bathroom. The line for the restroom is much too long, and so I decide to go across the street to Talia's apartment. It's a quarter of twelve, and I know from experience I'm taking a chance, but I decide to risk it. This time, even after unlocking and relocking three sets of locks with color-coded keys, I'm still back with time to spare. I head straight to the bar to order a round of drinks. The crowd around the bar is two people deep, at least, and I can't get close enough to order. I hang back, waiting for my chance, when to my right two inoordinately tall hipster girls squeeze past me to the front of the bar. I sigh and narrow my eyes at the back of their well-coiffed hipster heads.
"You have to be more aggressive," says Talia's friend helpfully, who has seen what's happened.
"I can't help it," I say. "I'm not from here," as if this is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why I'm incapable of ordering drinks in a bar. Tis the season, I remind myself. Be of good cheer. I'll get my turn. I think about how good the champagne will taste when I finally get it, the cold bubbles tingling as they wash against my lips. Yum. The hipster girls order their drinks and walk away with two plastic flutes of champagne. Finally. "Two glasses of champagne, one red wine and one club soda, please," I say.
"Sorry, we're out of champagne," the bartender tells me.
"But...but..." I sputter helplessly, as he turns away to take the order of someone else capable of forming coherent sentences. I stand staring with my jaw open in disbelief. It's just my luck.
"That's rough," the guy at the bar next to me sympathizes.
"Those girls, first they cut in front of me, and then they stole my champagne!" I rage. "Bitches!" So much for holiday cheer.
"And you know," he says, "I'm pretty sure I just saw them open a new bottle."
"They're probably saving it for themselves!" I fume.
I manage to calm down enough to re-evaluate and order, substituting chardonnay for champagne. I distribute the drinks and suddenly the countdown starts as I look around helplessly, stranded at the bar, waiting to pay. Then everyone's cheering and embracing, and I'm alone with my arm outstretched, holding a fistful of bills. Behind me Talia and her boyfriend are kissing. I look at the guy at the bar next to me. Behind him his friend is kissing one of the girls he's been hitting on all night. We look at each other, and I shrug my shoulders and half roll my eyes, and I'm smiling. "Happy New Year" I say, and I'm smiling at life, at myself, at sharing this moment with a stranger in a bar.
"Happy New Year."
And after all, it could have been worse.