Saturday, January 2, 2010

Times Square New Years Eve

So apparently New Years in New York is kind of a big deal.

I knew there would be some excitement over the dropping of a disco globe 12 a.m.ish, but was nowhere near prepared for what really happens New Years Eve in NYC. Last Thursday I exited my apartment and was transported into what looked like some sort of police state. There were guns, dogs, and concrete barricades. And that was on my 8 a.m. walk to work.

My original evening plans were low-key. My best friend was visiting from Houston and we decided to opt out of the high-cover-charging night club parties and have our own private soiree complete with classy lady champagne, hors d'oeuvres, an ample supply of vino and, if at all possible, pink feather boa crowns with the glittered numbers “2010”. Basically, all the essential ingredients for the best New Years Eve ever.

After I got off work, we braved the predictable crowds at the Amish Market, a specialty grocery store I sometimes go to when I have enough money to splurge on rich people food. An hour later we were back on the street wielding bags full of goodies: three kinds of smelly cheeses, a large baguette, salmon pinwheel sandwiches, an assortment of different types of olives, fig-orange preserves, rainbow sushi rolls, and blood-orange sorbet for vodka-freeze desserts. So, all was going according to plan and "New Years Eve of Awesome Delicious Things" party was soon to be well underway.

By this time it was 4 p.m. and we sauntered towards my apartment without a care in the world, both making the gross miscalculation that the crowds at this point, 8 hours until midnight, still wouldn’t be very bad.

We were all kinds of wrong.

All of a sudden the streets were teeming with people moving in the same direction, flowing in a steady but SLOW stream of tired, confused tourists. Beyond those people and between us, my apartment and our awesome New Years Eve, was a guarded barricade.

At first I wasn’t too concerned. My landlady had emailed the day before warning me that getting to my apartment near Times Square could be an issue New Years Eve, and advised me to carry a copy of my lease with me in case I had any trouble. That was last thing I’d grabbed before we left my place earlier, as an afterthought. Now I fished it from my purse and clutched it like a golden ticket.

Somehow we muscled our way to the front of the mob. I tried to get the attention of any of the three policemen talking to one another beyond the fence. I could literally see my apartment awning across the street, but it might as well have been in Russia.

“Sir! Excuse me! Officer! Can you help me, sir?”One turned. He was a youngish man. Probably 28. He had good skin.

“Excuse me sir, I live across the street. I have a copy of my lease. That’s my apartment right there and we’re just trying to get home. Can you let us cross?”
“You’re gonna have to walk up to 56th.”
“I’m sorry?”
“This is closed. Walk up to 56th.”
“I have my lease with me. I live right there—“
“I’m not calling you a liar. But you still can’t cross.”

He was grinning like an idiot.

“You’re laughing but this isn’t funny to me. I really want to get home.”
“Up to 56th,” he said and turned his back on me.

I decided his skin was the ugliest I’d ever seen. And that he probably had herpes. And that most likely, his mother had never loved him.

E. and I started to head up to 56th, a handful of blocks and an avenue out of our way, but it became clear pretty quickly that a detour that would normally have taken ten minutes was going to take over two hours. The crowd literally inched forward. Our grocery sacks packed full of goodies became heavy and we were miserable. That’s when inspiration hit.

I’d been apartment sitting all week at a place very close to mine on 49th Street. The place belonged to a close friend and under the circumstances, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be a big deal if we crashed there for the night. The crowd covered the entire street from sidewalk to sidewalk. We took a look around and decided it was official, we’d seek refuge at T.’s and "New Years Eve of Awesome Delicious Things" night would be back on track!

But when we finally got to 49th street, I noticed a partial blue barricade. Not good. We quickened our pace.

E. and I had very nearly reached our goal—again, we could see the apartment awning— when another man in blue with terrible skin and a loveless childhood yelled, “49th Street’s closed! 49th Street’s closed!”

Only it wasn’t. Not yet, anyway. Not really. The barricade still wasn’t complete, but men in blue wore busily lifting the other side into place.

E. looked at me and yelled, “run!”

And we did. Actually, we flew. Or at least that’s what I’ve decided must have happened. We flew over oncoming traffic and the immovable mob because there’s no other way we made it through alive without somehow temporarily acquiring the power of flight.

I glanced back only when we reached the front door of the apartment, half convinced an army of men in blue would be following close behind, handcuffs out but, thankfully, the street was empty.

The picture above shows the view from the window of T.’s apartment where could see the masses inching forward in the sleety snow for the chance to watch the disco ball drop ten minutes til midnight.

We watched it in HD and toasted from the couch.

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