Wednesday, December 26, 2012

a New Year's Eve story.

2012 is rapidly drawing to a close, and I’m sure everyone has a certain question weighing on their minds. Not “how did 2012 go by so fast?” or “what will I do to make 2013 the best year EVER?” or even “what resolutions should I make that I’ll actually keep?” No: the question everyone wants the answer to is this: “What should I do for New Year’s Eve?”

Shortly before last New Year’s Eve, I told you about how I’ve spent more New Year’s Eves with James’s brother Jesse and our friend Nate than I have with James – my then boyfriend, now fiancée – himself. This was thanks to James’s membership in a band called Funky Gumbo. They catered to the drunk middle-aged woman subset, but for the rest of us, there was a lot to be desired. Not to say that they weren’t good – they were – but I felt distinctly out of place at Funky Gumbo gigs, where I was younger than the rest of the audience by at least one generation.

New Year’s Eve 2011/2012 was my first New Year’s Eve in Sioux Falls. James – having played his last New Year’s Eve Funky Gumbo gig at the advent of 2010 – was available for New Year’s festivities for the second year running, so he called Jesse and Nate: a recipe for adventure.
It's always exciting when Jesse and Nate are around.
We spent the first part of the evening at the liquor store and the second part of the evening playing cribbage. 
However, when you are young and childless, it seems it is unacceptable for you to spend New Year’s Eve anywhere but at a bar. So off to the bar we went. We went to a place called the 18th Amendment: it’s kind of a bro bar, but it’s a good go-to. We arrived in the parking lot around 10pm and, to our surprise and dismay, found ourselves at the back of a line to get into the bar. Friends, this is Sioux Falls: there are never lines to get in anywhere. James and Jesse thought we should find ourselves a different bar, while Nate and I reasoned that if there was a line here, there would be lines everywhere else. As long as we were here, we might as well stay. Turns out that we made the right choice: within five minutes, we were in.
How could they resist this attractive group of people?
Just because we were in didn’t mean that we had a place to sit. We stood around the pool table for a solid hour before scoring a group of seats by the window. Nate proceeded to try and gather phone numbers from girls, and Jesse acted as his wingman (“haaaaaaave you met Nate?”). As it turns out, Jesse is an unintentionally terrible wingman: the drunk girls gave HIM their phone numbers, even though he was pitching for Nate.

Before we knew it, 2011 was gone and 2012 had begun. We celebrated well past midnight, and Jesse even fell off his chair. We were having a great time, and it was about to go down in history as our first normal New Year’s Eve. We should’ve known better.
But we were having such fun!
South Dakota bars close at 2am, but the 18th Amendment turned the lights on at 1.15am. Like all the other revelers, we dawdled as the bouncers tried to herd us outside – we had to finish our drinks, after all. James had the fastest smartphone, so he was in charge of finding us a cab for the ride home. Easy peasy, right? It was early morning on New Year’s day in the respectably-sized faux-city of Sioux Falls: cabs must be a dime a dozen.

By the time the bouncers threw all of us out into the parking lot at 1.45, James hadn’t had any luck finding us a cab. The few companies he was able to get ahold of told us they could be there in two hours. Two hours?! It was JANUARY! We weren’t going to stand in the parking lot for two hours and wait for a cab. An executive decision was made: to keep from freezing to death, we would start walking back to my apartment while continuing to call cabs.

Now might be a good time to point out that the walk from the 18th Amendment to my apartment is roughly three and a half miles. If it had been a warm spring day, a walk like that would’ve been quite pleasant. However, this was 2am on January 1st, when walking anywhere – let alone three and a half miles – is less than pleasant. Jesse didn’t even have a coat. I guess if we had to walk that far at that time of year, we picked the right time of year to do it. It had been a spectacularly mild winter, and it was probably about 20 degrees: a downright heat wave compared to what we Midwesterners are used to around New Year’s.

As we began the long walk home, my blood began to boil. What kind of city was I living in? They don’t want you to drive drunk, but they don’t have enough cabs to get you home. I realize that it was partially our fault for not making arrangements beforehand, but come on! I stomped furiously home, trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid the ice on the road and managing (unintentionally) to leave my companions trailing behind.

I did eventually slow down, and I’m glad I did: I would’ve hated to miss the entertainment. Jesse, still coatless, was somehow happy as a clam. Nate, on the other hand, had turned the melodrama on high. There were patches of ice spotting the roads and sidewalks, and Nate inevitably slipped on one and fell face-first onto the pavement. He cut his thumb in the process, and as he assessed the damage, he determined that he would probably need it amputated. After we convinced Nate that his thumb was not in danger of falling off, he started lagging behind and eventually strayed down a side street. Eventually, someone looked back and said, “Where’s Nate?” Jesse, still unnaturally cheery, volunteered to locate him. Jesse managed to bring Nate back, and he proceeded to slip and fall on another ice patch. This time, he landed on someone’s lawn and began crawling on his hands and knees. “Go on without me!” he yelled pitifully. “SAVE YOURSELVES!” Nate was totally convinced that we were going to meet our deaths on Grange Avenue. “Nate,” we said. “We’re not going to die.”

“YES WE ARE!” he gasped. “Calla’s apartment is TWENTY MILES AWAY!”

“No, Nate,” we said. “We have less than three miles to go.”

“YOU GUYS! We have FIFTY MILES TO GO!” Every time we tried to tell Nate how far the apartment actually was, his perceived miles increased. I think we were up to eighty miles by the time we gave up.

We trudged on: past Nate’s place of employment (where we had to chase after him and convince him that it was a bad idea to drop in and say hi), past countless dark houses. After what seemed like hours, we stumbled into a BP: the first sign of life. By this time, we were cold enough so that we couldn’t tell we were cold. It was probably a mistake to stop at the BP: we basked in the warmth long enough for our extremities to thaw and start to really hurt. After James bought a hat that made him look distinctly like a homeless person, back out into the cold we went. The BP was a mere mile away from our destination, but this was by far the longest part of the journey. After having experienced glorious heat, the January air was especially prickly.

Contrary to Nate’s predictions of certain death, we all made it home in once piece. By the time we walked in the door, it was very nearly 4 am. According to Google maps (which is always totally reliable), this walk would’ve taken just over an hour for anyone else. However, when you throw in 1.) the early hours of January, 2.) alcohol, and 3.) general confusion, and 4.) a bunch of idiots like us, you get an extra hour tacked on to your walk.

It took us until the next morning for the sheer disbelief to set it: did that REALLY happen? Did we REALLY walk three and a half miles at 2am in January? Yes, we really did. Sure, I was super crabby while it was happening, but it only took about six hours of being in my warm apartment for the whole situation to become really funny. Not that I’d ever want to do it again.

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