Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why googling is only half the battle

I'm sure there are many reasons why people come to this site. But really, now that I think about it, I actually have no idea why people come to this site. Is it my meticulous attention to grammar and punctuation? Voyeurism? That minty-fresh taste? Inquiring minds want to know. However, it has come to my attention that certain people have very specific reasons for coming here. There are certain people who arrive here in my little corner of the Internet, disoriented, dazed and confused, and all because their favorite search engine told them to. And, lo, these naive and trusting souls bowed down before the gods of Google, and they complied. And instead of a handshake, a cup of tea and a warm howd'ya do, what do these people get? Nothing! I'd like to offer a hearty apology to these befuddled visitors left scratching their heads and wondering how the Internet has managed to steer them so wrong. They came here looking for answers, and after all, they took the time and effort to click my link, and so I think it's only fair and just that I help them, don't you? It is in this spirit of conciliation and reciprocity that I would like to dedicate today's post to these wanderers, these inquisitors, these weary nomads of the Internet. Accordingly, I present to you my very own Answers to Life's Important Questions. Let's get on with it, shall we?

Q: Why do I cum so fast since I am a girl?

A: First of all, are you sure you're a girl? Check again.

Sure? Ok. If you're a girl and you come easily, you're obviously doing it wrong. You have to make him work for it, you know? Plus, it's always good to have something to throw in his face during a totally unrelated argument: "Oh yeah, well you never made me come!" Trust me, there's no comeback for that. I mean, look at Victorian women; they weren't allowed to even say the word orgasm. And do you think any of them ever had to take the trash out or exit a carriage unassisted? I don't think so. Next time you find yourself in a situation where you find yourself close to orgasm, try these simple techniques: think about baseball, or your grandmother. Quick, what's the square root of pi? With a little bit of practice you should soon find yourself happy, healthy, and orgasm-free. You're welcome.

Q: Is it true broken bones can tell when it's going to rain?

A: There's an old Indian proverb that says:

If bone is warm, it's sunny.
If bone is wet, it's raining.
If bone is white, it's snowing.
If you can't see bone, it's foggy.

Of course, there's another line of thought that goes something like this: If your bone has ruptured the skin and is exposed to the elements, please, for the love of god, get that fixed and check the weather on the Internet like everyone else.

Q: Boobs.

A: Can you phrase that in the form of a question, please?

Q: Boobs?

A: Ah, yes. Boobs. You know, that reminds me of a story my parents used to read to me when I was a child. It went something like this:

One boob, two boobs,
Old boobs, new boobs.

This one has a little star.
This one has a little car.
Say! What a lot of boobs there are.

Yes. Some are pink. And some are blue.
Some are old. And some are new.
Some are sad.
And some are glad.
And some are very, very bad.

Why are they sad and bad and glad?
I do not know.
Go ask your dad.

Some are thin.
And some are fat.
And some are very, very flat.

From here to there,
from there to here,
funny boobs are everywhere.

Oh me! Oh my!
Oh me! Oh my!
What a lot of boobs go by.

Thus, in answer to your question, yes. And no. However.

Q: Why hasn't he called?

A: Oh, dearie. Dearie, dearie, dearie dear. This is a tough one. There are so many possible reasons why he hasn't called you, but the most important thing to remember is that none of them have absolutely anything whatsoever to do with you. You are perfect in each and every way! You are a peach and a gem and a real find. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. Just look at you! With your smooth skin and shiny, pretty hair. And smart! I bet your mother tells you all the time how pretty and smart you are. There, you see? It must be true. As I said, there are any number of reasons why he hasn't called, which once again, have nothing at all to do with any inadequacies on your part. These reasons are myriad and labyrinthine, and may include (but are not limited to) the following:

a) his phone is broken.
b) your phone is broken.
c) hit by a bus.
d) diabetic coma.
e) arrested for pirating dvd's.
f) playing it cool.
g) brainwashed by Scientologists.
h) accidentally severed dialing finger while biting into a hamburger.
i) playing Wii.
j) hates his phone voice.
k) got a bad haircut and is waiting for it to grow out.
l) crack.
m) pilgrimage to Mecca.
n) fingers are too fat for keypad and is waiting for arrival of specially-ordered dialing wand.
o) helper monkey ran away.
p) too upset by writer's strike to go on living.
q) secretly gay.
r) too busy blogging about you.
s) knitting (he actually said "I'll shawl you").
t) the voices told him not to.
u) flesh-eating bacteria.
v) secret other girlfriend taking up a lot of his time.
w) rehab.
x) loves you but isn't "in love" with you.
y) pirahnas.
z) he's Superman.

Now I know my ABCs, next time won't you notbeajerkand call me please...

Well, that's it for today's edition of Answers to Life's Important Questions (also known by its full title: Just, Unequivocal, Sincere and True Answers to Life's Important Questions, aka JUSTALIQ). If you have a question you would like to be featured in next week's edition of JUSTALIQ, please submit it to diaryofwhy at gmail dot com.

Au revoir, et à bientôt!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why machines will rule the Earth

You know things are looking bad for humans when technology has developed that subtle blend of mockery and wry humor that so many of us strive for, and uses it against you.

Case in point: When I write text messages, my cell phone likes to guess at what I'm going to say next by ever so helpfully throwing in a word or two when it thinks it might have a good idea at where the conversation is going. It has never once been correct, and I always have to go back to delete its suggestion. Last night I was going to meet a friend for a drink. A friend, if you must know, and he reads this blog (hey T!), but a friend nonetheless. Standing at the bus stop, I opened my phone to send him a text indicating that he should meet me in fifteen minutes.

Bus is here, meet me in

bed! said my phone.

Oh ho, phone, aren't you so clever! Think you're being funny, don't you phone?

So apparently things are so bad around here that even my phone thinks I need to get laid. Although if my microwave starts insulting me too I'm really going to be worried.

Be nice to your appliances, people, it seems that the robotic uprising is already upon us. (Binary solo! Zero zero zero zero zero zero one...)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why I wish on stars

It was a Friday night, and I was moping alone in my dorm room when my friend Julia rushed in, breathless.

"Rachel," she gushed, "you have to come upstairs because Caroline's brother is visiting and he's so hot and he's 6'5" and I think you'd really like him! Come on!" she said while tugging on my arm.

"Julia," I sighed, "just because he's tall doesn't automatically mean I'll like him, or he'll like me, for that matter. I mean...I'm watching Rain Man, here. I really don't want to...ow! Ok, fine, I'll come up for a few minutes, just let go."

Upstairs there was already a small party in the works; alcohol was circulating and the room was dimly lit with Christmas lights. (And as everyone who ever went to college knows, the most important ingredients for a successful dorm-room party are alcohol and Christmas lights. That and some inflatable furniture, and you're automatically the most popular kids on the floor, or at least that's how it was in the late nineties. By now the kids probably all have laser shows and hover furniture, for all I know).

"Rachel, this is Colin," Julia trilled a tad too meaningfully as she introduced us. I looked him over. Yup, it was just as I thought; tall, handsome, broad-shouldered. He was way out of my league. I smiled politely and rolled my eyes in a show of embarassment at this obviously off-target attempt at a set-up.

With introductions out of the way, we settled down to the serious business of Asshole. We played, we drank, we made up rules and accused each other of cheating. Waterfall. Social. Clear. Sorry, not fast enough. Drink. I think I even attained the coveted position of President, at one point. However, as the evening and the level of intoxication progressed, people got...weird. There were sudden emotional outbursts, spontaneous and bizarre dance moves; pretty much what you'd expect from a bunch of eighteen and nineteen year-olds only recently out of high school and drunk on freedom and Jose Cuervo. I must have been more sober than the rest, or else better at holding my liquor (Señor Cuervo and I have always been good friends). Of course Colin, being twenty-two, and in the military nonetheless, was also functional enough to raise an eyebrow at the debauchery unraveling around us. We made eye contact. "This is getting weird," he said.

"Yeah," I agreed.

"I'm going to take a walk," he said.

"Oh," I said.

"Do you want to come?" he said.

"Oh!" I said. "Yeah, sure."

We headed outside into the crisp fall air and asked each other the typical kinds of questions. He was a navigator in the Marines, and he flew planes. The sky twinkled with stars overhead, the kind of night sky you can only see when the closest city is still miles and miles away, and Baltimore is a distant glow on the horizon. The kind of sky I lived under my whole life and never really thought much about until I moved to a city full of bright lights and tall buildings, and suddenly realized that I couldn't see the stars anymore, even on the darkest of nights, even if I squinted. But that night there were stars, there had always been stars, though perhaps I had never looked at them before like I did on this night.

We gazed upwards, mouths agape, as he pointed out the constellations, and the stars you could use to navigate by. We turned our gazes earthward and stumbled our way through the near-darkness towards the golf course, navigating by the stars and the vague shadowy outlines of winter-bare trees. "Hop on," he said, and I did, and he took off running with me on his back, as we laughed and were breathless. We reached a steep hill, and he said, "Let's roll down it!" He went first as I looked on with terror and exhilaration. "Come on!" he said from the bottom. It was a steep hill, and where normally I would have shaken my head stubbornly and picked my way carefully and patiently down the incline, this time I hurled myself to the ground without a second thought, visions of Princess Buttercup in my head as I bounced and jolted against the unforgiving ground, laughing all the way. We reached the golf course where he stole a red flag marking the ninth hole on the green. "Here," he said. "It's for you, so you'll remember tonight." I clasped the piece of red cloth reverently; for some reason this act struck me as the most outrageous, most rebellious, most romantic gesture in the world. We made our way to a pavillion, and just beyond it we made our most fortuitous discovery of the evening: a gigantic, fluffy, pillowy bed of leaves contained in a sort of trough between the side of the pavillion and a retaining wall, just begging to be jumped in and burrowed into. We waded in up to our thighs, spread our arms wide, and let ourselves fall. We scooped up armfuls of leaves, threw them in the air, at each other, and then lay still, exhausted. We covered ourselves completely, lying perfectly still, so that someone could have walked by right next to us and never have known we were there. Insulated from the cold air, warm, hidden, our small secret. Outside was so quiet, but under the leaves the noise was deafening; the rustling and crackling of dried leaves, every time we moved ever so slightly, every time we breathed. Under the leaves we held hands. Under the leaves was complete darkness, like being blindfolded in an unlit, windowless room, but our mouths found each other. Under the leaves...

We kissed and whispered, silly things; our favorite lines from our favorite Simpsons episodes, food, movies. He mentioned Rain Man. "I have that movie," I mentioned. "In my room."

"Oh yeah?" he said. "Here? Well let's go watch it." And so we left our warm cocoon, and we picked leaves out of each other's hair, off of our clothing. Leaf fragments in my ears, in my shoes, between my toes; I would still be finding leaves in my room days later, and I would keep them in a box with the red flag, to remember. Back in my room we watched Rain Man from my twin bed. We watched parts, anyway. Raymond dancing shyly with Charlie Babbitt's girlfriend. "I love this part," I sighed.

"Come on," Colin said, standing up, pulling me to my feet. And we danced, too. I looked up and saw the the tin foil stars I had made in a fit of frugal but well-intentioned decorating frenzy, and hung from the ceiling tiles with clear thread.

"We're dancing under the stars," I sighed happily, incredulously, already knowing that I had reduced the moment to a bad movie line, knowing that at this point the audience would be gagging into their popcorn, but not caring. Because no one else mattered; it was just him and me, and I knew I would always remember that night as being movie-perfect, wholly unexpected, and utterly, bitterly sweet.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why my ass is like the Mona Lisa

I received an e-mail on OkCupid today from a Québecois francophone, wondering if I'd be interested in getting together sometime, maybe speaking some French over a drink. Fantastique, I thought. I labored over my response en français, double-checking my spelling and grammar. I finally clicked send, only to be informed that Monsieur Québecois francophone had taken it upon himself to select three questions that I would be required to answer before my e-mail could be sent. Merde, I thought. Quel hassle. But fine, let's see what we have here...

I opened the first question and sighed. My bristles were already up from him making me jump through hoops, but it got worse: each question was a three-parter, making it essentially nine questions I would have to answer before I could send the e-mail and move on to more important things, namely, lunch. The first question was some b.s. about how you would want your ideal partner to support you if you had a difficult assignment or project. Then, how would your ideal partner answer this question? Then, how important is this question to you? The second question was more of the same. I just want to get some coffee, dude, I thought. Why do I feel like we're already in couples therapy? But fine, whatever. Only one (three-part) question to go and I'm home-free, I thought. And then I read this:

Umm, pardon?

Wait, really? You're serious? I looked for a response to indicate "none of your damn beeswax," or even an "at this rate you're never going to find out," but there was none. Eff this, I thought. I'm not answering this. I tried to bypass it without submitting a response, and this is what it said:

In that case, sorry Monsieur Québecois francophone, you lose. Pas de rendez-vous for you. It's not that I'm a prude, per se, it's just that I like to think of my ass as the Mona Lisa: a work of art, to be sure, and yet inscrutable and shrouded in mystery (or at least until the third date). Plus, I find it un peu bizarre to be discussing la pénétration anale while we're still addressing each other by the more formal vous pronoun.

A word of advice to confused single guys out there: order of operations is important. Asking a girl her deepest most innermost thoughts on anal sex before even meeting her is equivalent to her asking you on a first date how you feel about kids. More specifically how you feel about five kids, and more specifically three girls and two boys and their names all start with J because that's just exactly what I want and I plan on having them all before the age of 36 because I read somewhere that your fertility drops dramatically after that. It's all just premature information.

Premature information! Not as commonly discussed, but just as bad as the...other...premature...thing. A word of advice, guys; just remember the three D's: dinner, drinks, DO NOT TALK ABOUT ANAL SEX. Oh, and the other...thing? Don't do that either. And you should be just fine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why my internal alarm needs a tune-up

9:00 pm: Pop two Tylenol PM, knowing there's no way I will be able to convince my body to fall asleep of its own accord at 9:45, thus ensuring I will get 8 hours of precious beauty sleep before my 5:45 wakeup call in the morning.

9:30 pm: Get in bed, watch American Idol.

10:00 pm: Turn off t.v. and prepare to fall into delicious slumber.

10:30 pm: Am delightfully warm and sleepy, though not asleep. Soon, though, I am sure I will be dozing peacefully.

11:15 pm: My roommate comes home, and I hear her puttering about. The sound of water running and doors closing sets my nerves on edge. Why am I not asleep???

1:30 am: The delightfully warm sleepy feeling has long since dissolved. Now I just feel anxious and very much awake, like I've just downed a large cup of coffee. WTF, Tylenol PM???

6:50 am: I awake with a start from a dream. Wait, what time is it? Before even looking at the time I realize with a sick feeling that, dear lord, I forgot to set my alarm. And I need to be out the door in ten minutes. Holy shit.

Long story short, I did what I never would have believed possible, and what I hope to never do again: I got ready in ten minutes. And now I'm unshowered, unkempt, and stuck at school for the next 7 hours.

And already the semester is off to a smashing start.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why today could be YOUR lucky day

Because you could be the winner of this handsome 366-day (366 days for the price of 365! Now that's a deal!) Simpsons desk calendar! And yes, I realize it's already mid-January and not exactly calendar season anymore, but that's why it's free.

Also, while I have nothing against the Simpsons, obviously, or calendars in general, I have trouble with the page-a-day format. I'll miss a day or two and end up falling behind, and then I'll feel badly about myself, like, I can't even do this right, god. I've found that wall calendars are much lower-maintenance and overall better for my self-esteem. But maybe someone you know has no such neurotic hang-ups. Or maybe you are that someone. First, ask yourself these questions: Do you know what day it is? Do you tremble when faced with the crushing responsibility of daily calendar maintenance? Do you know the name of the comic strip Bart creates in episode DABF13? If you answered no to any or none of these questions, then this could be the calendar for you.

How to enter: Correctly answer the following five questions and e-mail your responses to diaryofwhy at gmail dot com by this Friday January 18 at 12:00 PM, EST.

1. What name does Bart use on his credit card application?
2. What brand of beer do they drink in Shelbyville?
3. Which of the following has Lisa not been romantically linked with: Milhouse, Kearney, Ralph, or Nelson?
4. Marge decides to go into business selling which snack treat: pretzels, marshmallows or cookies?
5. What vegetable did Abe Simpson once wear on his belt because it was the style at the time: onion, tomato, or radish?

All correct submissions will be entered into a random drawing. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will receive their prize via the U.S. Postal Service.

Odds of winning: The five people who read this blog may have to fight it out, but all in all, the odds are pretty good. Enter today!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why today is my lucky day

Woo hoo!!!!!!

Why my new mantra is 'What Would Jerry Do?'

We went to the Boston Wine Festival on a first date, which was already a bit intense. My internet sleuthing had turned up the fact that these tickets were worth $100 a pop. Sure, he got them as a present, but he wanted to use them with me, someone he had never met before? Also, we had planned this date out nine days in advance, which in the online dating world might as well be nine years. So I went into the evening already feeling a bit strange about the situation. Plus, any time wearing heels is required, I'm already out of my comfort zone. I like to keep things simple on a first date. A beer, or three, depending on how well things are going (or aren't, for that matter), or even, yes, a glass of wine in a quiet corner somewhere. Last night wasn't any of that. Last night was hundreds of Boston Brahmins circulating to the inoffensive tones of a jazz trio, all elbowing for dibs on the shrimp and lobster tails, and swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting (sacrilege!)

After biding our time in the mob scene surrounding the table for at least ten minutes, we finally edged close enough to receive our first splash of wine. We dutifully sniffed and swirled thoughtfully. "Where do you shop?" the man with the wine bottle asked haughtily. Unsure exactly what he was asking, I looked at my date for help.

"Excuse me?" my date replied, apparently as confused as I.

"Where do you shop?" he enunciated.

"Oh, uh, nowhere in particular," my date replied as we made our hasty exit and started laughing. "What did he want me to say? New Hampshire liquor store?"

"Trader Joe's?" I giggled.

Fortified, we set off to re-enter the mêlée, waiting our turn patiently, offering our glasses before us in a supplicating gesture. Please sir, may I have some more?

"This was a nice gift for your parents to give you," I said.

"Yeah, they told me a couple months ago not to make any plans on my birthday this year."

"'s your birthday?"

"Oh, yeah. I didn't tell you?"

"No! Well...happy birthday?"


And now it's happened. My life has officially become a Seinfeld episode. Pretty soon I'll be wearing sneakers and tapered relaxed-fit jeans, collecting action figures and eating cereal for dinner, and before you know it I'm on the road to middle-aged bachelorhood. Oh god.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why I ~heart~ flirtatious bartenders

When I got to the bar I ordered a Blue Moon, and then headed into the back room to test my "social networking" skills. (It worked! I got a card from a woman with a friend in the State Department, who recruits people to write about news stories in French-speaking countries!)

A couple hours later, after chicken fingers were consumed and the debris from the Yankee swap cleared, I headed back to the bar. The bartender looked at me. "Blue Moon," he said, before I had a chance to open my mouth.

"Yeah, that's right. Very good," I said, impressed.

"It's the cute bangs," he said. "Anyone else I'll forget, but the bangs I remember."

"Well, you know, I figure if they worked for me when I was five..."

"Hey, why mess with a good thing, right?"


"Actually, in your case, it's more like, why mess with a great thing."

And then I folded him up and put him in my pocket and brought him home with me, because gah, how cute is that?!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why I ~heart~ Yankee swaps

I swear this photo shoot started out with the purest of intentions. I just wanted to show you guys my most awesome new dachshund-cum-piggy bank. I call him Noodle.

But then this guy in the background kept getting in the way.

No matter how I positioned him, he was always there, watching, following Noodle with his eyes.

It was kind of creepy.

Hey, wanna make out?

Wow, you're a really good kisser.

Whoa, I swear, I don't even know how this happened! It just...wheeeee!

Hey, Puffy McFleecepants, I'm glad you're having fun and all, but I don't know if this is working for me. Can we just....

Aw yeah, here we go. This is what I'm talking about.

Damn, it feels good to be a dachshund.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why we'll never be bff

Tonight during The Simpsons I noticed my roommate sporting what very much looked like an engagement ring. Should I...say something?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Why I'm glad New Year's Eve only comes once a year, Part IV

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.

Why I'm glad New Year's Eve only comes once a year, Part III

New Year's Eve 2006

I'm at a bar in Cambridge with my boyfriend and a large group of his friends. His old roommate is visiting from Alaska and has brought his fiancée; everyone is together again. It's fitting that we're at this bar, their old neighborhood hangout down the street from their old apartment. Everyone's having a good time, but I feel out of place, for some reason. Music starts playing and everyone begins to dance, but it's clear to me that I haven't had nearly enough to drink, and I hang back. People reach out, drag me by the hand to the dance floor, try to force my stiff and self-conscious body to bend and move to the music, but it can't be done. I hate this more than anything. All I want in the world is to be able to let go, to dance and have fun like everyone else, but when I get like this, there is nothing that I or anyone can do to change it. I am suddenly reminded of every single middle school dance I ever went to. I leave the dance floor, but there is nowhere else to go. The bar is crowded and everyone I know is on the dance floor. I can't get close enough to the bar to get a drink, I can't sit down. I feel lost and overwhelmed. My boyfriend takes a break from the party to find me.

"Babe, what's wrong?" he asks. I shake my head wordlessly, on the verge of tears. "I just want to have fun with my friends tonight," he pleads.

"So go." And he does, and I'm still lost, and more alone than ever. I feel an overwhelming urge to grab my coat, step out into the cold night air, and just start walking. Every part of me screams for escape, but then I think about him coming to look for me at midnight and not finding me. It would be too mean. It would be sabotage. And so I stay, and I sit awkwardly at a table with a couple who are part of our group, but who I don't know at all. They are deeply involved in intimate conversation, and it's obvious I am intruding. I look wistfully at their heads tilted close, at their obliviousness to their surroundings, at their happiness in being together.

Then the countdown begins, and suddenly it's midnight and the air is filled with the jubilant sound of cheers and noisemakers. The seconds tick by, and I start to wonder if he will even come to look for me at all. I imagine him in the other room, celebrating with his friends, sharing hugs, pats on the back, toasting to the new year. Just when I'm convinced he's not going to come, I see him making his way through the crowd, looking for me.

"Where were you?" he asks.

"Here," I say. "I've been right here." We kiss, and I can't remember ever being more miserable.

"Happy New Year," he says.

"Happy New Year."

Still to come: Ok, even I think this is getting out of control. Only one more New Year's Eve re-cap coming up, I promise.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Why I'm glad New Year's Eve only comes once a year, Part II

New Year's Eve 1999

It's the big one, the big 2-0-0-0, and it's all everyone's been talking about for the last 364 days. Though we've been told it isn't technically the beginning of the new millenium, there's no way we're waiting another year to celebrate it. And though theories abound, no one knows exactly what will happen at the stroke of midnight, with the threat of the Y2K bug hanging heavy in the air. We've been informed that the alarmist theories are merely that, and though we know that most likely nothing at all will happen, secretly everyone wishes for a small catastrophe, for a story, something to tell our children years from now about where we were and what happened when the clock struck twelve and we all quite suddenly were thrust into The Future: At the stroke of midnight, ATMs everywhere started spitting out cash into the streets. Twenties and fifties flew high into the air and fluttered down like leaves; all you had to do was reach out and catch them. Then everywhere the lights went out, and everyone in the neighborhood came outside and played flashlight tag, and then we made a bonfire and roasted marshmallows. I've never seen anything like it. It was the best night of my life.

It's the one time we can sing "Gonna party like it's 1999" and mean it, and we do, playing it over and over in the living room at Mike's parents' house, dancing wildly, knocking ornaments off the tree, and causing the stereo to skip on nearly every down beat in our enthusiasm. It's Mike's third annual New Year's Eve Party and Sleepover, and though we've all been at different colleges for three semesters now, when we're together it's like nothing has changed.

And perhaps that's part of the problem; nothing has changed. But sometimes, as on the eve of this momentous occasion, you want things to change. You want something to Happen, and when it doesn't, when faced with the same old Sameness, something of the glow vanishes. I'm bummed because the guy I like isn't paying attention to me, as usual. Talia's in a similar situation, and so we commiserate on the couch, becoming more gloomy and dour with each passing song, with each minute that brings us closer to midnight. Arms folded over our chests, we grumble as people pass us by without a glance. It's like we're not even alive. God! Even our friends are ignoring us. And where is Jason? we wonder. He'll either snap us out of our funk or join it with us, and either option is good enough for us. But he left the party forever ago to pick up a cake that he made from his house and he shows no sign of retuning any time soon. Talia and I decide to go for a walk in the direction of Jason's house. We will meet him there and hurry him along back to the party with us. If he leaves before we get there he'll have to pass us on the way, and we can get a ride back with him. We step out into the cold, crisp air, and almost immediately a car filled with three obviously intoxicated guys pulls up next to us.

"Heyyyyy," they say. "Where ya goin?"

"Uh, we're leaving a party," we say.

"There's a party?" they say. "Can we come?"

Talia and I look at each other, imagining how shocked they would be at the scene back at Mike's house: Trivial Pursuit and cans of Coke, and no alcohol in sight. We were nineteen and we didn't drink, not even on New Year's Eve, a fact which wouldn't strike us as odd until years later. "Um, I don't think it's your kind of party," we tell them.

"Oh, come on..." they say.

"No, really," we insist. "It's just...board games and stuff."

"Well, do you want to come with us then?" they ask. Talia and I look at each other.

"No thanks," we say, and keep walking as they speed off. Immediately we regret our decision. "Maybe we should have gone with them," Talia says. "Yeah, at least it would be something. At least something would finally happen." And we curse our mothers for having raised us right, although secretly we are glad they did.

By car Jason's house seems practically next door, but we soon realize that on foot it's quite a bit further than either of us had thought. We finally arrive only to be told by his mother than Jason has already left. "But he would have had to pass us on the road!" we sputter. "That's impossible!" We turn around and head back to Mike's house dejectedly. "I bet no one has even noticed we're gone," I predict, as suddenly all around us loud cheers pour out of houses and fireworks go off over the rooftops. And now we've missed it. Of course. Our most important New Year's Eve so far, and instead of being with our friends, blowing into noisemakers, hugging and toasting sparkling cider, we're out here, alone, freezing our asses.

"Well," Talia says optimistically, "you know what? Everyone else is missing these fireworks."

"That's true," I say. "I do love fireworks."

"And you know, at least we're together."


"And years from now, I'll be able to tell my kids that on the first minute of the first day of the year 2000, I was with my best friend, Rach."

"Happy New Year, Tal."

"Happy New Year, Rach."

Up next: New Year's Eve 2006, a bar, a boy, and a breakdown at midnight.

Why I'm glad New Year's Eve only comes once a year, Part I

New Year's Eve 2002

I'm at the Carousel Hotel in Ocean City, MD with my musician boyfriend, who will be playing with the band all night. I have brought not one, but two possible outfits with me: a skirt and a top, and dress pants and a stretchy, shimmery tank top. "You can help me choose!" I tell my boyfriend excitedly. My enthusiasm quickly turns to horror as I realize that though I have brought two complete outfits, as well as pantyhose, dangly earrings, and strapless undergarments, I have not, in fact, brought any shoes. I try on my sparkly tank top and burgandy dress pants with the only shoes I have with me- sneakers. It looks just as awful as I had imagined. "I'm not going down!" I wail.

"But you have to!" he insists.

"I can't go like this!" I cry. "I'll just baby-sit the band wives' kids so they can go down to the party."

"I'll buy you new shoes. What size are you?"

"It's 6:00 on New Year's Eve. Nothing will be open. It's no use!" I throw myself facedown on the bed and sob.

"I'll find you shoes. Stay right here." As if I have anywhere to go, I think. I turn off the lights and get under the covers until a knock comes on the door. It's Bo, my old jazz band instructor from college, and a member of the cover band my boyfriend is in.

"Hey Rachel, did you find any sho..." he begins, and seeing my tear-stained face, says, "No, I guess not, huh?" I shake my head. "What size are you?" he asks. I tell him, get back in bed, and pull the covers over my head. I hear female voices I don't recognize in the hall discussing shoe size, and I kind of want to die. A short while later there is another knock on the door. Bo again, bearing a pair of beachy platform slides. A size too large, a little bit frayed, a lot not my style. But they're black, and they'll do.

My boyfriend finally comes back from his unsuccessful shoe shopping excursion and heads downstairs to warm up with the band. I dry my tears, dress and go down to the party, where I spend most of the evening sitting alone at a banquet table. Though the wives are supposed to take shifts baby-sitting, none of them ever come down. The band plays, and people are dancing and enjoying themselves. At one point, Bo gestures me over to the stage. I approach the edge, looking at him questioningly. He motions me to get on the stage, and I shake my head, sure I'm misunderstanding, but he's quite insistent. Thinking maybe he wants to ask me a question about sound levels, I creep onto the edge of the stage, trying not to draw attention to myself, but instead of asking me a question, he hands me a saxophone. "Can you play this?" he asks. Oh, lord. I put the neck strap over my head, because it seems that I have little choice in the matter. "Want to take a solo?" he asks. I frantically shake my head no, trying to tell him with my eyes how serious I am about this. "Ok," he says, "you don't have to. Just keep playing E." I do, and it sounds so awful that I just pretend to play after that. An interminable amount of time later the song finally ends, and I creep offstage and sit back down at the empty table, relief flooding over me. During the next break, Tess, the singer, is furious. I have made them look unprofessional, I later find out that she says.

I spend the rest of the night making full use of the open bar. After I lose count of how many drinks I've had, I have to use the bathroom. Again. I've already gone twice in the bathroom across the hall, and I'm embarassed to go in there and face the attendant again. And what is that basket for, anyway? I'm supposed to tip her to use the bathroom? Seriously? I decide that this time I will go up to our room to use the bathroom. It's a quarter of twelve. I should have plenty of time to go and be back before midnight. I take the elevator up, take care of business, apply fresh lip gloss, and head back down. I wait impatiently for the elevator. It arrives and I get in, looking for the button for the lobby, but there is none. What? I get off the next time the door opens, trying to get my bearings. I walk over to the next elevator, push the button, and wait. When it finally arrives I get in and push a button marked L, which I think means Lobby. The elevator descends and the door opens into a hot, steamy room. Towering piles of white sheets and towels cover every imaginable surface, and women are chattering back and forth in Spanish. What the hell is going on??? I think. This can't be happening... I check my watch. It's 11:58. Shit. I press the button again and try to act nonchalant as dozens of hotel maids look at me in amusement and surprise. I take the elevator back up, again missing the lobby. This could only happen to me, I think. I hit a button, get out on the 10th floor, start looking for the stairs. I'm running now, huffing my way down ten flights of stairs, and I hear the strains of Auld Lang Syne drifting up from the ballroom. Too late. I follow the music and find my way back, at last. I see my boyfriend making his way through the crowd, weaving through throngs of drunken middle-aged couples, still lingering over their midnight kisses. "Where were you???" he says.

"I got lost," I say. "Aren't you supposed to be on stage?"

"Bo let me take a break so I could kiss you," he says.

"Well, happy New Year," I say.

"Happy New Year."

Still to come: The (mis)adventures of New Year's Eves 1999, 2006, and 2007.