Sappy New Year

The tinsel is gone. The office parties are over. New Year's Eve is a hazy memory. Now, all that's left is... you. By Paul McDermott. Have you looked in the mirror lately? You look haggard! Not just haggard, a year older, as if a year passed last night and left you in its wake. So do not look in the mirror.

There is no more dangerous time of year. The parties can make or break you socially, so it is essential you paced yourself. An early dash, though much admired, could leave you drained and unable to be the star attraction at the big one, which should have been your focus. Never lose sight of that ball falling in New York. The sheer joy, the excitement, the countdown, and if you're not there the next day you won't be able to forget what you don't want to remember from the previous night.

Hopefully by now you will have completed the obligatory office functions. The ones you say you hate ("It's work, they expect me. I get no enjoyment out of this either. This is a no-fun zone for me too, you know!") and every year there you are.

At some point in the evening, you look around to find the sedate world you inhabit during the week has gone out of control. In one corner, men and women in party hats enact scenes from Sodom and Gomorrah with photocopiers taking the place of goats. Mrs Somebady, a simmering cauldron of repressed sexuality, is dancing lasciviously with a gawky post-baby boomer on a co-worker's desk.

You drink a glass of water that someone has flicked their ash in and come to the conclusion that all water is bad for you. The teetotallers are consuming the most alcohol, the "quiet ones" are talking your ear off and the girl that "always has a smile on her face" is crying in the corner. A conversation a year in the making is occurring, the protagonists are shocked, but everyone else is glad it finally happened. The guy everyone hates breaks down and says he's sorry and the office forgives him, for a second, until they regroup and recall how repulsive he is.

You catch a glimpse of yourself in a darkened window, but manage to turn away before any real damage is done. As you leave you find yourself saying in all honesty, "What a great night! Hope it's as good next year!" Then the big one. New Year's Eve. In one swift act of purging, we rid ourselves of the old skin of '97 and prepare to struggle into the soft new skin of '98. We normally manage to do this by staying up all night and losing any sense of decency. Old Father Time bows out and the Child of Time, fresh from the crib, is already ageing rapidly.

We manage to blot out this "passing of time" with the convenient memory loss that over-indulgence brings. We see the night as a disjointed series of events. There is never any coherent story, just one disaster after another. Spilled drinks, forgotten names, accidental meetings, lost friends, bad jokes that lead us in a dizzy rush to the countdown. Followed swiftly by the disgusting feeling of being kissed by total strangers on the stroke of midnight*. Or even worse, on the stroke of midnight, being steadfastly avoided by total strangers. While everywhere around you people abandon themselves, you're left standing, lips untouched.

The hours fly till dawn. When you come to there's always streamers and confetti on the floor. A few days later you inevitably find something in you pocket. You don't know when it got there or, more importantly, how it got there and you're too ashamed to even look at it.

In the last 24 hours you've committed at least four of the seven deadly sins that you can't remember enough to enjoy. You greet the first day of January in a darkened room because overnight you've become light-sensitive. And, although you were warned, you look at yourself in a mirror and discover you have become a walking, talking, all-singing, all-dancing version of your own death. You're the monster from the bottom of the bottle coming up for air. As you peer into you're eyes, the mirror of your soul, you see shattered glass and read "you are truely alone" scratched into your retina. What I recommend is closing your eyes for a while and going to sleep because tonight......

-Typed up by ktwong