December 31, 2007
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
I counted down 2004 in Times Square and I fully intend to make that my only time. Standing in the blistering cold for nine hours and surrounded by drunks is not a good way to spend the last day of the year, Times Square be damned.
Being in a relationship means compromise, and I was reluctantly back in Times Square on the last day of 2007 with my girlfriend. All who wished to countdown in Times Square were required to go past police checkpoints. The lineup was unexpectedly short and we arrived on Broadway and 48th at 15:30. Compared to my last time being stuck on 55th we were closer to the action, but the trade-off was an additional three hours of agony.
It got much colder when after sunset at 16:30. With nothing to distract my attention, I could only concentrate on how cold and numb I was feeling. One hour down, 7.5 more hours to go.
17:00 – The crowd cheered as the big board showed it was New Year in Athens.
18:00 – This time it was Paris. I was really thirsty. We should have packed some food along.
19:00 – “Happy New Year London!” The crowd had gotten noticeably more drunk. I could use some food like a cheesesteak sandwich or a cheeseburger.
20:00 – Cape Verde. I really couldn’t care less at this point.
The once orderly and tightly paced crowd disintegrated as we reached dinner hours. Many people crossed the gated area to buy food from the nearby fast food chains. We moved to the most densely packed area to hide from the howling wind.
21:00 – South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands? Where the hell is that?
Well, I didn’t give a damn. The important thing was that we were three hours away from 2008.
A few vendors selling hot drinks and snacks showed up at 21:30. I bought two cups of hot chocolate and some cookies, but the hollowing feeling in our stomachs didn’t fade away.
The alcohol intake was becoming noticeable – the Brits behind us got rowdier by the minute and were engaged in a “sausage fight” with their balloons.
22:00 – Rio de Janeiro! Finally a place I knew.
We could finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many people danced at the 22:00 mark and a Japanese TV crew came to our section to do some random interviews. We were chatting and taking pictures with people around us. For the first time all night we were able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
23:00 – Nova Scotia!
My brain had shut down at this point to preserve energy.
00:00 – Happy 2008 everyone!
The ball dropped. Confetti fell from the sky. Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World was played. We danced to celebrate the New Year then got out of Times Square as fast as we could. Took us about an hour to get back to our apartment.
Relationship is built upon shared experiences. For better or worse this night is something we did together and that’s probably all that’s mattered.
Just don’t ask me to do it for a third time.