I sat down with the intention of writing about the millenium which was 15 years ago. Funny that nobody seems to be talking or reminiscing about that much. It was hilarious. I just texted my buddy to remind him that exactly 15 years ago we were on the way home from a crazy little Y2K party at some weird guy’s cottage almost 4 hours from home. On the drive home, I do recall listening to Eminem’s first album for I think the first time. That was definitely unlike anything I’d ever heard before, but this isn’t about him.
The thing is, I’ve already half told that story in another post. I had to check before I wasted my time doing it again. I think I covered it pretty well here.
The above link is a post with a few abbreviated versions of stories from New Year’s Eves in the past. I can’t believe I didn’t tell this one though. I have a buddy (who is one of the main characters in this story) who makes me repeat this story ad nauseam. Writing it down will ensure that the next time I’m asked to tell it (and I am aware that it’s a better story told verbally than written, but 15 times or so is my limit), I can just pass on this link. You ready??? Here we go……
December 31st 2001. I can’t remember what was happening during the day that would have led up to this, but I was to spend my New Year’s Eve with my friends Jay & Dwight (yes those are their real names…..I usually protect the innocent, but Jay’s the one that keeps making me tell the story, and Dwight is always late, so they deserve it). Who am I at this point in time?? Working in retail management at a shitty store in a bad situation, driving a horrible vehicle, and living in my parent’s basement. This is mere months before my wife swooped in and straightened me out (somewhat). As I think back, this might have been the only New Years Eve where all 3 of us were single. In those situations it always seems like it will be better than it actually ends up being. I was at the point in my life where I accept no less than being at a Night Club on New Year’s Eve, and we had purchased tickets to go to Guvernment which capacity wise was probably the biggest club in the city at the time (and is apparently closing its doors soon…Oh the memories). We also had been invited to a condo party that night as well. Perfect. Since the club thing wouldn’t get good until about 11pm, we had time to go to the party first.
Logistics play a role in the first part of this story. Since not all of my readers are from Toronto, I’ll just use the 3 locations ‘west-end’, ‘downtown’, and ‘east-end’. As I describe this, it’s going to sound like one of those math problems you get in school where they describe the scenario, and you try to figure out how many cookies Johnny actually ate vs. what’s still left in the tin for Jenny. I am from the west end, Jay is from downtown, and Dwight is from the east-end which is probably 40 minutes from the west end, and 30 minutes from downtown (with traffic). The club is downtown, but the party is on the west-end. Dwight and I have cars, but Jay doesn’t. Jay has an apartment that I will sleep at, so I don’t have to drive home from the club, and Dwight has to work the next morning (New Year’s Day??? Sucky), so he will drive us to the club, leave early, and we can take a cab back to Jay’s, so no drinking and driving. It’s organized perfectly.
Dwight is always SUBSTANTIALLY LATE. For everything. Always. For dumb reasons sometimes too. On this night, he had to work until 6 or 8 or something. He works downtown. He can’t just bring a change of clothes with him to work. That would be too logical. He wants to go home to the east end to groom himself so he can drive us to the west-end, then back downtown, then back home to the east-end at the end of the night. That’s how he rolls. When I finally get in touch with him, he’s at home eating dinner. It’s probably after 8 by now. They are totally serving food at the party we’re going to, but Dwight is going to take his sweet time like he always does. So I call Jay and incorporate plan B. I’m going to pick up Jay and go to the party without Dwight. The way he wastes time, there’s no way he does all this east-end primping, comes to the party, and then still gets us to the club in time. The club is what matters. It’s where we will ring in the new year, and where we have shelled out money ahead of time to be.
Jay and I arrive at the party, have a drink or two and some dinner. I call Dwight for an update. He’s still in the east-end. It’s getting closer to 10pm now. We’re about to leave this party, and drive downtown to Jay’s apartment so I can drop off my car. I tell Dwight that under no circumstances should he try to attend this party because Jay and I are now leaving to go downtown, and he should head straight there to pick us up. We get to Jay’s place and go upstairs for a drink. It’s pushing 11. I call Dwight so see where he is. He tells me he’ll be there soon. I hear people in the background. I ask who the people are. He confesses that he is at the party. The party I just forbade him to go to. I had kittens.
Now for those that think I’m overreacting, please understand that you don’t mess with a man’s New Year’s plans. Timing is everything. The big celebration is at 12, and if you can’t get there before then….. I don’t know…..what’s the point? So now that I’ve screamed at Dwight, he’s on his way to come pick us up, but the clock is ticking quickly. There is a real chance that we won’t be there to toast in the new year. I’m sure the tickets to get in are like $50 each. That’s a lot of money to spend so you can bring the new year in with 2 dudes in a Volkswagen Golf. The guy’s giving me a lift. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I can’t repeat any of the things I said to him in the car when he finally picked us up at about 11:35. We arrived at the club at about 11:52. We got in fairly quickly, rushing around because we knew we had 8 minutes to check our coats and get a drink in our hands.
We get to the coat check only to find out that it’s full. Yes. Full. The implications of that are that I will be carrying my coat around for the next several hours. Did I mention I was single? Did I mention it’s the dead of winter in Canada, and I don’t know how I’m getting home, so I have to bring the warmest winter coat I have? Did….I….mention…..that…. the coat….was……..WHITE???????????????????? Ok, I have to take partial blame for that. It was 2001 and puffy coats were everywhere, and where I worked, we sold them, and while most of the universe bought the black one……. I went with the white. I thought it looked hot, get over it. Now I have to either carry that big goddamn coat with me everywhere, or find a corner somewhere, dump it and hope for the best. At least nobody would confuse it for theirs.
What could I say to Dwight that I hadn’t already said? It was midnight, we had drinks in our hands. He just gave me that semi-remorseful smile, we toasted and moved on. I can’t stay mad at him. The alcohol was taking the edge off, and I started to have a good time. I don’t remember the rest of the night too well. Dwight left an hour or two later, but Jay and I got word that the place was going to be open until 6 am or some crazy goddamn thing. We decided that we should try to close the place. At some point we either got bored or ran out of money (probably the latter), and we left to head back to his place. There was a supply and demand problem with the cabs outside. I suggested that we should walk toward his place for a few minutes, and just flag one down. We were super hammered. We started walking, and in what seemed like 2 minutes we had arrived (but let me assure you, there’s no way that walk is less than 30 minutes, and it was way below freezing, just that we were too smashed to notice). Jay’s apartment was a pretty small one-bedroom unit. He didn’t even have a couch. There was a love-seat. Me being 6 feet tall didn’t fit too well on it, so I put the cushions on the floor thinking maybe I could lie on them with my legs hanging off the end or something. He didn’t have a carpet or rug or anything, and the wood floors were kind of slick, so the cushions kept sliding apart, causing my ass to fall in between them. Finally I gave up and just laid there on the hard floor with my head on my puffy white jacket which had a drink or two spilled on it for sure. I slept.
Woke up the next day. I would say morning, but I’m sure it was already afternoon. Felt MISERABLE!!! What a horrible start to 2002. I had the hangover to end all hangovers, and I couldn’t just take some Advil and try to nap. I wasn’t at home, and I was super uncomfortable. Jay wakes up cheerful as shit, and tries to get me to go have breakfast with him (at Fran’s!! Torontonians know what I’m talking about). I reluctantly agree, but there’s no way I ate anything. I needed to get home. I needed to get into my own bed. This day was a write off, and I had to be at work on January 2nd. There needed to be a New Year’s resolution regarding this too, but I didn’t know what. After breakfast Jay and I went our separate ways. Him to his apartment, and me to my car.
About the car……. So I’ve alluded a little bit to being broke and living pay cheque to pay cheque around this time. My car was a piece of shit. No different from its predecessor. This is kind of that rock bottom moment that makes the story funny, but also super depressing for me (although it’s over now, so I can laugh). My car was in bad need of repairs. The rad had a sizeable leak. For those that don’t know cars (like me), coolant is the thing that keeps your engine from over-heating. The Rad holds the coolant. When your rad has a leak, you need to get it fixed for your own safety, and probably the safety of others. There is a band-aid solution however, and I was all about band-aid solutions at this time. Until I could afford to fix my rad, I was REGULARLY putting a product called ‘Stop-Leak’ or ‘Gunk’ in my rad, and then adding a bunch of coolant before I went on the highway. This was to be a necessary step on January 1st, 2002 if I wanted to minimize the horribleness I already feeling in the form of the worst headache ever, and just a general dissatisfaction with the direction of my life as a whole (because it’s New Year’s Day and everyone takes inventory whether they want to or not).
I drove to a gas station near Jay’s apartment. Probably put $5 of gas in the car, or some crazy thing. Pulled the car off to the side, and went inside to purchase some stop-leak, and the smallest bottle of engine coolant I can get. I walk outside only to be met with the most unforgiving, howling goddamn sub-zero wind that’s making my face scrunch up, which is aggravating my headache. I lift the hood of the car up, and open the cap to my rad. I grab the stop-leak and read the instructions carefully. It says to shake the bottle before opening. I shake that thing like a sonofabitch, and puncture the seal, then SPLATTTTTTTT!!!!!! Doesn’t half the bottle of Stop Leak explode onto my fucking face, and what doesn’t land there ends up on my white puffy jacket next to whatever footprints and mixed drinks ended up on it from the night before. I’m a grown man saying this to you right now, but I never came so close to just breaking down and bawling my fucking eyes out than I did at that very moment. Instead, I slowly collected myself, put the remaining stop-leak into my rad, and opened (carefully) the bottle of engine coolant, and proceeded to pour it in as well. I closed the cap, and commenced my walk of shame which was much different from most of the other walks of shame that people were doing on January 1st. Mine was into the gas station to ask the attendant if he would be so kind as to give me a bit of paper towel to wipe the stop-leak from my face, and coat.
My car survived the ride home, and with a raging hangover, I was finally soooooo close to my pillow and mattress (which by the way are just a regular-ass pillow and mattress, but compared to what I slept on last night, they might as well have been a cloud). It’s like 5 pm by the way. I have no idea where the day went. I get inside and my mom asked where I’d been and told me it’s a good thing I was home because dinner’s almost ready. I told her that I wasn’t hungry and really needed to go to sleep. She got mad because she had prepared a nice New Year’s Day dinner. She also made it sound like our family having a new year’s day dinner was some time-honoured tradition like Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving, but for whatever reason I just wasn’t remembering that from any other year of my life. We argued. I thought I would die if I didn’t sleep, so I negotiated a 30 minute nap. As I walked down the stairs to my room, all I heard was “YOU’RE SELFISH!!!!!!!” Awesome.