A Very Typical New Years

One of the things that has irked me a little over the three months we’ve lived in NYC is that we always manage to flake out for the major, overblown city events. We saw the crowd at the Halloween parade and promptly turned around and went home. We slept through the Thanksgiving Day parade. We completely skipped the tree lighting after being warned about the crowds. The only thing we had actually managed to do was see part of the NYC marathon, and as fun as that is, it’s just people running and everyone cheering randomly.
So when Katie’s cousin Maddie was coming into town for New Years to visit us, and we all wanted to be at Times Square for the event, I made an internal commitment for us not to flake out this time. We were going to be in this one for the long haul.
We came into Times Square around 6:30, getting off at the 49th St. station. Immediately you’re struck with “Hey, this isn’t what it looks like on TV”. Each city block has the street sectioned off with barricades. At the north end, there’s a little opening where there’s a sizable group of cops for groping and all of that. Trying to walk down the sidewalk becomes an interesting exercise in futility. See, if you’re going cross-town, you’re fine, none of the cops care. If you’re going up-town, they don’t care either. But if you’re going downtown, you need a good excuse – like a reservation in a restaurant (better have proof!), broadway tickets (better have your tickets!), or a hotel reservation (better have your room key!).
So after realizing that we couldn’t get down to Planet Hollywood for a relatively cheap dinner, we found ourselves cutting over to Cosi on 51st and 7th. They claimed a 45 minute time limit for tables but as the meal progressed, it was obvious they weren’t pushing this much.
We got out from dinner around 7:30. We decided not to try and fight too far forward and just got into the blockcade at 51st and 7th. While I’m being patted down (CCC alums, take note: NYPD sucks at pat downs. Didn’t check my pant legs.), I hear the cop that’s patting down Katie say “I’m going to pat you down real good.” followed by Katie laughing a lot, followed by “You got any machine guns in there?”, followed by more Katie laughing. Apparently in the progress he copped a feel (pun intedned) of her boob. Go NYPD, you GET frisky on New Years Eve! By the way – where were the alleged metal detectors?
So you go forward as far as you can in the blockade, and then you stop. Now, off to the left, we can see the ball, but it’s tiny. To our right is a giant video screen thing running Korbel and Waterford Crystal ads endlessly, and reminding us THE BALL DROPS HERE! Thank god they reminded us, I would’ve forgotten otherwise.
One other thing you never see on TV: All of a sudden, a countdown starts on the screen under the ball. Everyone’s all OMG 20! 19! 18! and so on. It hits a big fevered pitch at 1 and then everyone cheers as the screen reads 4 MORE HOURS TILL 2004. This is, by far, the most disheartening thing you’ve ever seen – realizing you’re already tired and you’re going to have to spend 4 more hours standing in this crowd of people you’re rapidly hating.
A guy opens the window of Applebee’s and has a bullhorn, getting the crowd to cheer. Some other guy appears and says something that sounds remarkably like he’s asking us all to suck his dick. The woman behind me responds by asking him to get us some fries. I’m not sure if there’s a relation here. After a while we start pushing forward and manage to make it into the next blockade. HURRAH WE’RE JUST THAT MUCH CLOSER.
Now, when you watched the festivities on TV, you see everyone with orange hats and pom poms and inflatable crap? They only give those out for a few blocks. We were not in those blocks. Weren’t even close.
After doing the 9’o’clock countdown, we started getting really tired. The guys in front of us tried to get Famiglia to deliver a pizza – the amusing part being we were about 100-150 ft. from Famiglia. We saw some asshole from North Carolina asserting his right to be an asshole with an airhorn, much to the chagrin of everyone around him, including us. We saw lots of people leave, and started to get similar ideas. Finally, at 9:15, we broke, hopped the barricade, and had to walk to the nearest subway station, which was 57th & 7th. And yes, every block from 49th & 7th to 57th & 7th was full of people all ready to get NEWYEARSTASTIC.
We got on the subway, came home, bought some champagne, came home, turned on the TV, watched the crowd that we were once a part of, and then all fell asleep around 11. I woke up after not too long, watched the main portion of the festivities, felt very compelled to kill someone when they played Proud To Be An American, and dragged Katie to bed at 12:05.
Happy 2004, all.