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01.01.02 3:27 p.m.

He who cannot forgive others destroys the bridge over which he himself must pass.

 -George Herbert  

This Entry Features: bad New Years. Some Spanish when I forget how to spell. The infamous tickle orgy. Nick. Coley. Jen. Zack. Emily. Evan. Melissa. Veronica, in a tertiary way. Stevie. The threat of arrest. Katie and Kate. Threatening the gods. Conor. Flynn. Margaret.

this is your life and it's ending one minute at a time
Ah, New Year Eve. The night when new beginnings are had. The night when people drink far too much and eat awful entremeses. I bloody hate New Years Eve.
Not the night itself. The night is neutral. It has no control on how it is used. I just have had a lot of very bad ones.
When I was just 17, a wee 17 indeed, I had Nick, Jen, and Coley over to my home for New Years Eve. My family always had lots of food and we watched the ball drop and dropped an aluminum foil covered orange as our own New Years ball. It was tradition. To the best of my recollection, this was the first time I had my friends come over for New Years Eve.
Coley had arrived first and was very much acting like an ex-girlfriend, but in a not terrible way. If she had shown half the passion and interest in me during our brief relationship that she did at that point, I might not have been quite so willing to kiss Jen. Not that I should blame her for my being a cheating dog (more like a heartsick fool trying to discover what was important in the world through his lips, but we will give her the benefit of the doubt and describe my actions as canine). Coley was trying to be safely cuddly with me, by which I mean, physically intimate but not in a fashion that could be construed as romantic. I don't recall myself being particularly unreceptive, as I did find Coley attractive. She is attractive and a very sweet girl, even if she currently attributed undue negativity to my existence. Or, to put it more plainly, she feels a militant version of what I feel toward Kate, except I know that I'm doing it and regret it.
When Jen arrived, Coley was still much with the cuddlies. You must understand, both Jen and Coley had a vague bisexual streak, which naturally clicked together. As such, I ended up in the middle of them while we all hugged, kissed (on the cheeks between Coley & me and Jen & Coley), and tickled. I am not bragging, as I am not proud that this happened. I personally believe that this was one of the sources of Coley's issues with me, that I was being warm and semi-intimate with her, but I wasn't with her. I could be very wrong, but it makes a sort of sense to me. So we did this for something like... six hours. Just cuddled together on my bed. I felt very warm and happy at the moment, because I was playing a point. I was not considering the future or the past, I was just there, with two women I felt the best emotions (in a seventeen year old way) toward.
I remember that the movie Something Wicked This Way Comes was on near the end.
When Nick arrived, we disentangled for the night. The festivities were not terrible or particularly memorable. We toasted with sparkling grape juice at midnight. Afterward, they all left, I think. Jen and Nick both lived fairly close and could get home. Coley... she may have spent the night on a cot in my bedroom. I know she did that a couple of times and it doesn't seem wrong that she would have done so then. Though, perhaps, she slept at Jen's. Potentially unimportant, so I will move on.
The next morning, we found out that my cocker spaniel Stevie, who had leukemia, had died during the night. My mother blamed my friends and me for his death, though I am more inclined to blame the cancerous white blood cells. He was in extraordinary pain, so it was probably for the best.
By the next New Years, Jen had left me for Nick and I was in a tumultuous sort of relationship with Katie and her parents. This would be just after Katie returned home to them. If you will recall, her parents had a cop call me at work and threaten me with everything from statutory rape (she was the same age as me) to grand theft auto (I had no idea how to drive an automatic, let alone Katie's fidgety standard). In addition, around Christmas, Katie's father and my mother had a huge scream fest over the phone, where he reiterated his threats to have the cops arrest me and accused her of being a terrible mother for having raised the sort of boy who is willing to provide a friend in need with clothing, food, money, support, sanitary needs, and a place to rest.
So you can understand how odd it was that they let Katie spend New Years Eve at my home. I can't remember much of it. I am sure it wasn't much of note. I remember getting decidedly and effetely amorous after a glass of champagne, perhaps my first solid indication that alcohol was not my friend.
The trouble came when Katie's parents came to pick her up. There are hostage negotiations that are more civil. My family was trying to get Katie out as quickly as possible in order to avoid the scene that would surely result. Seeing as she was still 17, she could not drive herself home. And, though she had done so several times before and would numerous times in the future, they wouldn't consider the idea that she spend the night. Facing death by drunk driver seemed a better idea to her parents. A very Chaucerian concept, better death than the dishonor of spending a night next to a sleeping male of the species.
The all important 1999-2000 New Years Eve was spent quiet at home. My parents, and to a lesser degree myself, feared that the computer systems would flip out or that people would react in a hysterical manner to the date change. People are, in large groups, very stupid animals.
Katie, whom I wanted to spend my night with, was at a sleep-over party with numerous bad influence. To her parents thinking, Katie spending the night with me is intensely vile. However, having their recovering drug-using daughter spend night surrounded by people who have so much trouble dealing with their lives that they pop gel tabs like aspirin and rabidly proselytize their empty life style makes sense. Not to mention that a rather bizarre boy who had a near stalking crush on her. No, I'm just being silly. It should be noted that Katie, to the best of my knowledge, showed herself to be of stellar character even though her friends were performing sex acts of each other in a relatively public sleeping situation and there was quite a bit of drinking. It was more that I was trusted so little.
So, I did worry. I knew that some of the people Katie chose to surround herself with at that time (and, well, now) didn't feel content if other people were not practicing self-destructive lifestyles and that they could get pushy. Around 11PM, I climbed onto the flat portion of my roof and rather screamed at the sky that I would become an utter bastard should whatever Force That Be allow any harm to befall my dear Katherine. This resulted in my being in something like agony, on the day-bed in my living room, bemoaning my hubris until a few minutes before midnight. Then I spontaneously and fully recovered.
And the world, apparently, did not end.
Let me first make sure you understand the context of this New Years Eve. Kate and I had had our first distinct romantic interaction since the break up. I had presumed that it would be a matter of time before she and I were again partnered. I knew, knew, knew that she still loved me and was still very much attracted to me. One of my co-workers had informed me, seemingly as an act of mercy, that her girlfriend (a friend of Kate's) had told her that Kate had been fucking one of "the Boys." Understandably, I reacted in a less than admirable fashion. Kate had told me that she hadn't done anything with anyone else and I didn't think she would lie to me. As she was in Texas at this point, I confronted her with everything I had been told. I think I posted this series of letters, edited, as journal entries. Don't be lazy, check.
So, rather than being alone, I was to spend the night at Zanna's with Alison and the Zan. I was in one of the worst emotional places I had ever been, thinking that the woman I loved (and had been physical with) had been bedding another man. I was in one of the worse emotional pains I think I had ever felt. Zanna bitched that I wasn't concentrating on her. Really fucking supportive. Alison wasn't much better, insisting that she slept with her friends all the time and it never meant anything. Somehow not comforting.
So, given this track history, you would figure I would be a little pessimistic about the holiday, right? Oh, you foolish bastard. You should realize that I am fucking Pollyanna about this sort of this. Well, not fucking Pollyanna. That would be very, very wrong. Let's forget I said that and move on.
I was optimistic. Emily and I had been invited to three parties, Zack's, Sarah's, and my older brother's. Zack's told us that he was inviting a group of his friends over (I almost without exception get along with Zack's friends) and was going to have a bonfire. Lovely. Sarah promised us a formal wear shindig. Excellent. My brother? He promised us food. And who can knock food?
M and I decided that Zack's party sounded best, for the company, proximity and flame. Were we to go to Sarah's, she would be the only one we knew and only I actually knew her. Plus, she is distant. My brother's party was nixed because Emily has a severe allergy toward his apartment.
This, however, was before Emily came down with pneumonia and was forced by her parents to not leave the house. Cold would clearly kill her dead off because she got pneumonia once when she was seven and nearly died. Of course, everyone knows that a strong twenty-two-year-old is exactly the same as a seven-year-old. Her parents had me spend the weekend with Emily to make sure she remained on this side of the Veil, which I didn't mind but felt was excessive.
Incidentally, before I get to the New Years Eve part of the story, I have a funny anecdote. Emily parents wished to reward me for my commitment to Emily's health. Emily had told me earlier that the last time her parents had gone to Massachusetts, they brought her back lobster earrings. So I joked that I wanted a lobster. Somehow this ballooned into her parents making me a rather elaborate lobster dinner. I don't really eat lobster. It looks like a giant cockroach (which, really, it is) and isn't my kind of seafood. Still I ate enthusiastically, if artificially. Turns out, I am allergic to lobster. My eyes itched for an hour, until her father went out and bought liquid children's Benedryl (the pill form would have been fine).
For days, Emily and I had been trying to contact Zack to confirm the soirée. We could never get a hold of him, and his brothers were ignorant of any party. Zack didn't call us back or page me. So, New Year's Eve day, I drove back to my house, sans Emily the Phlegmatic, expecting a nice party. A few hours after darkness had fallen, Zack finally paged me. The party had been reduced to Veronica and him. He had not been home to inform me of this. Had I known that this was the case, I would have stayed with Emily and played good nursemaid boyfriend (though she was largely healthy).
As we could not get a hold of Zack earlier in the day, Emily and I had been trying to woo people to come to a party at her house. Her parents were going out for the night and she thus saw no harm in it. We called Melissa and were informed by her machine that she would be waking up at 9PM. Conor, Flynn, and Margaret were all occupied at Flynn's formidable domicile. That pretty much completed our list.
So, there I sat. Alone. Depressed. Irked. Hungry. Too late to drive to Sarah's party and not necessarily feeling the need to have my car break down on New Years Eve. Irked again.
Emily suggested that we talk online, I think in an effort to makes sure I didn't drink lye. She tried to divert my attention from my state by playing our porn game. It hinges on the idea that, whatever the subject, there is porn about it somewhere on the internet. It is a pretty sturdy thesis.
Around nine, I called Melissa, only to find that she was already on the phone with Emily. My, that was handy. Eventually, we eked out plans wherein Melissa and I would drive to Emily's and watch the ball drop together and Evan would join us later in the night. I was jubilant. Granted, these are not the plans I wanted to have and they were, as such, as exciting. But they were plans. And I would be kissing my cutie-pie girlfriend when the ball dropped.
Melissa and I drove up, having a really good conversation about her friends and enemies. I had pillaged my house and taken something like thirty pounds of party-like food. For four people. Shhh! I wasn't being logical!
When we arrived, Emily jumped on me, cooing that it had been hours and she missed me so. She insisted later she was kidding, but I think we all know the truth. Emily played the nurturing corruptor, feeding Melissa several foods she had never eaten (grilled cheese, Chex Mix, and a mimosa).
We watched the ball drop together, toasting with our bloody awful mimosas (champagne can go bad... good to know). Emily insisted we do so with Dick Clark, as per a tradition I don't follow. So we watched and toasted and kissed and what have you. At about 18 minutes past the hour a somber newscaster broke into the broadcast, stating that he would now take us live to the scene of this important news event. We all became paralyzed in fear, think that a terrorist action had occurred in Time Square. We held our breath. When we were greeted with the swearing in of the new mayor, we had some swearing to do of our own.
Moments after Emily's parents returned home, Evan entered the scene. Her parents gave him a once over and greeted both Melissa and him. Evidently, M's father liked them both very much. Frankly, this surprises me a little bit, though I am glad.
So, that was my New Years Eve. Low key, on the whole. Not terrible, though I thought it was going to be.

Soon in Xenology: I get presents. The Forces That Be move in mysterious ways. The work. I adventure.

last watched: Um... Dick Clark.
reading: Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
listening: "Hello" by Poe
wanting: an adventure.
interesting thought: Honesty is a religion.
moment of zen: Looking up from kissing Emily's neck and seeing Melissa, just back from a cigarette break, looking uncomfortable.
someday I must: return to Pine Bush.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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