Part Two: Why New Year’s Eve is Amateur Night (and I’m the Amateur) [Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered]

With 3 couples visiting from out of town over the holidays, I felt  a singular pressure to show them the kind of Entourage-themed New Year’s Eve they’d seen on HBO, the flash and money of it all, the outrageous L.A.-ness of it all. This pressure was somehow made worse because they were Canadians.

As mentioned two weeks ago in Part One, I was in favor of staying in, but it came down to this: 2 couples wanted to go out, 2 couples voted for staying in.

Alright, I thought. Forget my cozy New Year’s Eve idea; away with the Cranium, Scattergories and Taboo. Put away the Wii. Maybe those in favor of going out had a point. After all, there are only a couple of years left where a carefree night on the town is even a viable option before the whole evening holiday devolves into a night of Pampers, pizza delivery and a completely different version of a midnight toast – one that involves an infant’s latched firmly onto my nipple.

Heck, it’s already starting – one of the couples staying with us was in early pregnancy, due in April. And, really – how much longer would any of us even have the slightest desire to live it up on New Year’s? Time, I realized, was short. The dropping of the ball marked one me one full year closer to parenthood or death. We’d better, the hell, go out! Gather ye rosebuds while ye may!

Thanks to my clinical OCD, I expertly began obsessing for perfect New Year’s Eve venue/party on mind-numbing sites like Go Los Angeles, Digital City, Club Zone, and the L.A. Times “best NYE events Los Angeles” section. There were a dizzying array of interesting-sounding options: Maxim hosts a NYE bash at Graumann’s Chinese Theatre! Cleopatra’s Ball held at The Egyptian! The “W” is proud to host the hottest NYE party in L.A.!

Press releases promised things like:

-“A Giant LED light show that will dazzle 21century Hieroglyphics animations all night! (read: migraines!)

-”We recommend early arrival and “bottle service to make this party a memorable occasion. (read: debt!)

-State-of-the-art dance floors (read: lower back pain!) and DJ spinning the mash-ups until 2 am (read: possible hearing damage!)

As death-defying and appealing as this option sounded, the clencher for abandonment was the small type at the bottom of the press release: “$3,000 minimum, includes 8 General Admittance entries.”

So, with apologies to the Entourage-seekers, the club scene was out. With that realization came the acceptance that an evening like that is impossible to accomplish unless you a) have your own reality show b) are a trust fund baby c) wish to max out your (or, better yet- someone else’s) Master Card.

Besides, club parties always sound so much better than they are.

Case in point: Two years ago I went with my husband and another couple to New Year’s Eve at a club called “Wonderland,” which promised cool “Alice in Wonderland themed cocktails, rose garden, chess piece shaped bushes; you will feel like you’ve been dropped straight onto the movie set. With all that and the inaccurate clocks everywhere, and playing cards littering the walls and windows.”

I later realized that the club’s own description actually bragged that ”Wonderland does a good job of not going overboard with the Disney theme.”

Not going overboard with the Disney theme? I thought that was the whole fun of it! I had anticipated a quirky trip to the other side of the looking glass; instead, I got the reality of awful, brain-killing music combined with bad lighting, a collection of “dancers” in short red dresses popping champagne in would-be unison (as if this were some kind of grandly rehearsed dance. There may have been sparklers. All I could think is as I struggled to grab a glass of bubbly in time for the stroke of midnight was, “This sucks. I wish we were at Disneyland watching the fireworks.”

Like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight, I hit my club-atmosphere tolerance limit. I, my teetering stilettos, were ready to skedaddle. After maneuvering through a near confrontation when a bouncer put his hand on my husband’s chest (dude: not a good idea) together my husband and I abandoned our friends and fled, capes and coats flapping in the Hollywood alleyway wind, out of the rabbit hole and into the night.

On foot, we wandered to into nearby Miceli’s, a kitschy yet intimate Italian restaurant decorated with the requisite red checked tablecloths. Rows of Chianti bottles were strung up like Chinese lanterns. In the middle of it all: a man wearing a black turtleneck and 1992 facelift sat playing at the piano, crooning Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin tunes.

It was bliss.

Ah! New Year’s is saved! I realized, sinking my teeth into a seven layer lasagna. This is where I belong. This kind of place, where families were drinking wine and laughing, sleepy four-year olds falling asleep in their spaghetti, elderly couples who had been patrons for years. Maybe Joe the manager always did his best to get them seated at ‘their’ table, the one in the corner with a best view of the pianist.

This is where I belong. This is the kind of girl I am.

But, what of THIS New Year’s Eve? What happened then? Had I forgotten the lesson of the year before so quickly? What of our guests? What of the THRILLING NEW YEAR’S EVE in L.A. I had promised them?

Find out in next time in Part 3 of this series!

featured image credit: besighyawn