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PART 3 of “Why New Year’s Eve is Amateur Night (and I’m the Amateur)- [Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered]

PART 3 of “Why New Year’s Eve is Amateur Night (and I’m the Amateur): Where I confess the goings-on, paths not taken, the heaps of missteps and miscalculations that created the world’s worst New Year’s Eve. You think yours was bad? Read this and dare to compare.

You will recall from Parts 1 and 2 that, not wanting to make the “wrong choice” (a deeper issue I like to discuss once a week for a $45 co-pay) I combed through every possible New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles option.

In my indecision/overwhelm, I sent my husband an email with 16 different options, asking him to choose a few and send those few to the other couples.

He sent all 16 options to the six people that would be staying with us for the long New Years Eve weekend, resulting in several reactions based on personality type: a) the dismissal (“this is too much to deal with”) b) the seemingly friendly but somehow annoying “I don’t care what we do” and c) the free-for-all of comparing and obsessing over every possible element of the evening: price range, sustainability, and distance.

One by one, the I/we/I/we narrowed down the options. With club parties out, we were left to consider hotel parties, (but really – why bother if you’re not getting a room?) musical events, (which no one could agree on) or (consider this:) restaurant events.

A restaurant event? Yes! Why, that’s just the ticket! A late seating, prix-fixe feast would solve the what-and/or-where-to-eat issue, and transition smoothly into a midnight toast. Dinner would be taken care of, there would be no transportation issues trying to dash from drinks to dinner to dance party.

A restaurant event would save us. Restaurant event! YES!

Hold up, one guest cautioned. He’d done this kind of thing before, and noted the lag between dinner and midnight festivities could be far too long and too boring to bear (and we might have to actually do something: like all sit there and talk to each other for 4 hours. The horror!)

Hmph. Fine. Instead of the all-evening dinner “event,” I booked us for an early, 6:30pm seating at Pinot Bistro, with the idea that we could simply come home for midnight festivities. A little champagne, a little Ryan Seacrest…an easy transition into 2012.

This early dinner out/intimate midnight house soiree duet was nearly agreed upon, when, finally getting around to scrolling through some earlier options, my husband came upon a previously overlooked grand event – what appeared to be the holy grail of alt-hip New Year’s Eve events: a cool as funk sounding 1920’s themed party hosted by the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LACMA).

Eureka! The whole day leading up to and including New Year’s Eve was all set. We would spend the day sightseeing, get dolled up for a fancy dinner, then dance the night away at the 1920’s themed Golden Stag New Year’s Eve Bash hosted by the museum.

It all sounded so good.

Too good.

The word disaster is overused, to be sure.

A tsunami warrants the use of the word. Any event with the word “nuclear” is deserving of the descriptive.  So maybe there was no nuclear tsunami alien attack, but there might as well have been for the complete and utter disaster of that carefully planned – some might say, obsessively overplanned – that our New Year’s Eve proved to be.

An Hourly Play By Play to Midnight/The Moment of Defeat

9:00am -  All 4 couples wake and sit around drinking coffee. Like perfectly reasonable people, we “go over the plan” for the morning.  I try to convince some in party that the planned morning activity – a walk through gorgeous Coldwater Canyon Park actually IS a cool thing to do in L.A. it’s warm and pretty and you can see the city and be in the fresh air, and isn’t that what you want when it is 15 degrees at home?

“How much time are we going to need to get ready for the evening” I asked.

“I’d say three hours,” someone replied.

“Excuse me? Can you repeat that? It sounded like you said we need “three hours” to get ready.

“Yes. We need three hours minimum for everyone to get ready.”  (Note: we have three bathrooms at our disposal.)

We clearly do not need three hours to get ready. “Three hours?” I said. Did I have wax in my ears? Did I need to go to the acupuncturist and get my ears coned? Candled? Whatevered?

“I have to do my hair.”

“For three hours?”

Granted, I wanted to make a night of it, but were we going to the royal wedding? NO WE WERE NOT.  Were we bridesmaids in a Kardashian wedding covered by PEOPLE and US WEEKLY? No, we were not. Three hours? I spent less time getting ready for my own wedding.

“I still say we need at least three hours.”

I sit, slack-jawed, while others nod their heads in agreement.

Maybe she’s right. After all, we got up at 9am, it’s already taken us two hours to collectively get our shit together enough to leave the house.

11:00am – Caravan eight people with two cars to the lovely trails at Tree People with our 4-month-old Labrador puppy for what some are calling a hike, others are calling a scenic walk; others are irritatedly calling “cardio.”

11:10 am -  Scenic walk starts out fine. Sunny day. Perfect Los Angeles weather. The city is cooperating for our guests from the Great White North!

11:30am – Our labrador inexplicably starts panting and refuses to walk any further. Plops down mid-trail. Will not budge.

12:00pm – Anticlimactically, we all return early to house to drop off dozing doggy, me shouting “I’ll just run him in! You all stay in the car(s)! We’ve got to keep the momentum going!”

“But, I have to pee.”

“Yeah. And I want a Diet Coke.”

The responses flowed in one after the other. Eventually someone opened a door handle and that was that. They couldn’t see it, but I knew what this meant: everything was going to hell in a hurry. We had veered off course from The Plan.

1:00pm – Self-reflective discussion on why vacationing by committee is a bad idea

1:30pm - Sit on patio with everyone, some surf on various iPads and iPhones, some argue and/or analyze how long it will take to get where. Discuss –at length- how lunch will fit into our afternoon plans.

1:45pm Point out that I was right that if we all went inside the momentum would be gone and we wouldn’t get to anything, anywhere.

2:00pm – Leave house with my revised plan: to show our guests the sunny green canyons of Topanga, which lets out along PCH just between Santa Monica and Malibu. Perfect.  Caravan in two cars toward down Sunset toward ocean and Topanga.

2:20pm – Answer phone call question from car #2 :“How much further is it?”

2:30pm – Answer phone call from car #2 :“We’re hungry.”

2:35pm - Answer phone call from car #2 : “We’re car sick! Why is this road so winding?”

“It’s NATURE. It’s the CANYON. It’s CALIFORNIA.” Wonder, isn’t this why you’re here?!

2:40pm – Rearrange plan to go into canyon mainly to eat lunch. Suggest we go take in views of canyon and go to quirky, hipster Froggy’s for lunch.

2:45pm – Answer phone call from car #2 : “Where IS this place? Is it even open on New Years Eve day?:

2:46pm – Call Froggys. Realize they are not open all day today.

2:47pm – Pull over to side of road. Converse with driver of car #2. Mutiny.

2:55pm - Grumble to no one in particular that it would have been easier if we would have just rented a big van because constantly caravanning and cell phoning and consensus getting between 2 cars is getting very, very old.

3:12pm Get call from car #2 that we will all head over to ‘famous and awesome burger place – Father’s Office.”

3:26pm Deal with parking.

3:31pm – Remind everyone that we are supposed to be dressed and ready to go to (and EAT) a big fancy dinner at 6:30pm

3:31pm - Glares from hunger-crazed cousins.

3:35pm – Realize Father’s Office isn’t open today EITHER.

3:45pm – Head into random sidewalk café. Eat and drink for 2 hours. Be told that there is no way we all sit together. (Apparently in LA is frowned upon to travel in any group higher than 5 (what’s with 5? Is that an “Entourage” thing?) Realize there is no way are keeping our heavily researched, fancy New Year’s Eve dinner reservation.

5:45pm Begrudgingly accept this; accept that much of my work to craft the perfect New Year’s Eve was done in vain.

6:00 pm – Hang out at home. Scatter.

I pretend to nap but really toggle no committedly on my Kindle app between:

Tina Fey’s Bossypants,

The Best Year of Your Life by Debbie Ford

How Sex Works by Dr. Sharon Moalem

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

The Art of Raising a Puppy by New Skete Monks

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet

Oh. And also:

Taking Charge of Your Adult ADHD by Russel A. Barkley.

8:00pm  -  Try to get motivated to get ready to go out. Realize our worst fears were coming true: NYE was going to suck.

8:30pm -  Reiterate that I had been happy to cook a feast at home, do an evening of Cranium and cocktails.

9:30pm  – Amazingly, everyone was able to get ready for the evening in a mere 75 minutes.

9:45pm  -  Suspicious feeling of dread when we drive to LACHMA and park in eerily empty parking lot.

10:00pm – Approach security guard, who informs us the party is NOT at the LACMA, (but not to feel bad: we are the “hundredth people” to show up there).

10:30pm –   Drive like hell in attempt to get to party – downtown – (surely a deal-breaker had we only realized)  in time to settle in and at least enjoy the midnight festivities.

10:45pm  -  Circle for parking.

10:50 pm – Circle for parking.

11:00pm  – Circle for parking

11:01pm -  Decide to pool resources and pay for valet parking

11:05pm – Pull up to hotel only to realize there is no valet parking

11:10pm -  Circle until menfolk decide to drop off womenfolk and park 17 million miles away.

11:15pm – Put on wristbands. Start to feel like party is suspiciously like a club. Wait in chilly evening for menfolk.

11:35pm – Ooh and ah at beautiful hotel. Get flack for ‘not telling everyone’ to dress in 1920s theme. Throw up hands and try to find a drink.

11:25pm  – Wander the place realizing the party is a disorganized mess that had promised organized performances, a legitimate dance floor, catering staff passing drinks.

11:30pm -  Realize too, too quickly the only cool thing about the party was it was in an old hotel and some people (who either had a lot of time on their hands or worked in wardrobe and/or costume design) looked good.

Go upstairs and enter massive, hot room, about a long-ass bar with about 8 lines backed up like halftime at Staples Center during a labor strike.

11:40pm -  Realize we had been in line for 10 minutes and hadn’t moved.

11:41pm – Realize I was doing what I swore I wouldn’t – standing in line in heels for drinks all night.

11:45pm – Go downstairs and outside. Consider maybe it’s nicer outside. Go outside. Freeze. Go back inside. Attempt to have the 8 of us gather around a tiny table. Bitch and moan about how the evening is a bust.

11:50pm – Two in our party wander back with rum and cokes. Why didn’t you get us one? These 2 drinks were $22. What? It said it was an open bar!

Wield dirty looks/feel guilty about getting that wrong.

11:55 pm -  I attempt to track down someone in charge – we HAVE to have champagne in our hands by midnight! Can only find a random security guy who says, ‘yeah, nobody really knows what’s going on.”

11:57pm – Find a room that has a live performance going on up in front. W, the peons who only paid $52 a ticket, stand behind roped-off areas with tables and what looks like the remains of crappy salami and cheese platters.

11:58pm – Maneuver disorganized self-service champagne station with guests literally digging plastic 2-piece, click-together champagne ‘glasses’ out of tubes of plastic wrap and pouring their own Champagne until someone yells “we’re out of cups!”

11:59pm - Brother-in-law appears with a couple of large clear plastic cup of vodka tonic. I reach for it with both hands and hastily suck it down via a large red straw.


12:00pm – Toast with literally undrinkable shite being passed off as champagne. Quality of sparkling crap a bad omen.

12:05pm – Enjoy a temporary window of jollity –someone is singing “Cabaret!” and feel self get inappropriately touchy-feel whilst singing “Come taste the wine! Come here the band! Come blow your horn start celebrating! Right this way your table’s waiting…Life is a cabaret old chum, come to the cabaret!”

12:15am – Decide it’s a great idea to get another one of those delightful vodka tonics (“hey – you know those are doubles, right?”)

12:30am – Realize that was, in fact, a very bad idea.

Wonder how this happened…that you, who knows better, could get this intoxicated, this fast.

Know you are being an idiot, but you just can’t stop yourself because you are wasted out of your mind and you haven’t done that since 1999.

1:15am -  Hear self say shit you shouldn’t say to people you shouldn’t say it to. Loudly.

1:30am  – Tearfully regret the vodka tonics.

1:33am -  Angrily insist if the entire evening would have been wonderful if we had not deviated from my ORIGINAL PLAN!

2:00am – Fall asleep on top of covers – in full clothes and make-up. Vaguely become aware that the morning is to be dreaded due to all kinds of fallout from shitty night.

10:00am  – Pretend you are not completely hung over, angry, or embarrassed by making an egg strata.

11:00am  – Burn egg strata and secretly sob when everyone asks for hot sauce because it has “no taste” or “is very simple” or “is this the first time you’ve made this dish?”

12:00pm – Consider apologizing for bad behavior the night before and staring the New Year fresh. Then get pissed off because if only everyone had followed your original ideas like stylish, Madmen-esque house party with Scattergories /Disneyland/pajama party, the evening would have been fantastic.

1:00pm – Decide to put night (and year) behind me and press on, vowing to stay in-the-moment and go with the flow the rest of the weekend (just one more day! You can do it!)

Yep. New Year’s Eve is amateur night. Remember? Know thyself. I should know better than to try to swim with the sharks, play with the big boys, wield a glittery dress and stilletos when all my heart wants sweatpants and scrabble and Mickey Mouse.

I vow to make December 31, 2012 the best New Year’s Eve ever. Which just might mean letting go of any and all expectations and not planning anything at all. Or it might mean hiding in the redwoods at a sweatlodge retreat/women’s drumming circle.

Until that day, I will dream – no- I will find a way!-  to be a New Year’s Eve Amateur no more.

What’s was your best and worst New Year’s Eve? How can my future New Years Eves NOT SUCK?

featured image credit: besighyawn