New Years Eve
When I was still drinking I didn't, as a rule, go out on New Years Eve. My friends and I, who were all 'career drinkers', referred to New Years Eve as amateur night. We didn't ,of course, cease our chronic, chemically-assisted, drinking on New Years Eve - we simply stocked-up and stayed home.
Shortly after moving to New Zealand, while still married, with a young child (Enzo, probably 2 years old at the time), we undertook a motor-home Tiki tour of the north island. We ended up, on New Years Eve day, at Glink's Gully, an ocean-side campsite near Dargaville. In the daytime it was delightfully sunny, the seemingly endless beach a natural marvel, and our campsite neighbors friendly and reasonably sane.
That evening an entire campsite of average looking, mostly middle-aged, middle-class, white-folk got simply blotto and ran amok. While their children scurried about the night, unsupervised. Amok, there's simply no other way to put it. Add, to the veneer-delaminating George Romero-like scenario, a musically monstrous, ear-bleedingly-loud, Jimmy Barnes-on-bad-acid-style band ... churning out one banal cover-song after another - some time before midnight - (with our two year old wailing in pure terror, at the sonic assault) factor in the sound of a military-sized copter landing very close by where we trying to, hopelessly, get the kid to sleep.
Mid morning of the next day (or early-afternoon, rather) those who'd managed to come-to were slumped on chairs and chilly bins .... staring dumbly at the destroyed turf between their jandals. Slowly the night's full story (and the reason for the copter landing) emerged in pained, embarrassing, croaks from our crushingly hungover camp-mates.
It seems one young girl had been all but cut in half, another seriously broken, by a drunken, speeding, dirt biker - ripping heedlessly down the beach in pitch-darkness. Two mid-teen girlfriends, lying on their backs, gazing up at the wealth of stars in a moonless sky - both of them leaving, one near death, in the medi-vac copter we'd heard landing and taking off.
I found myself comforting the dead girl's inconsolable grandfather (known as 'the Mayor of Glink's Gully) as his own family&friends cohort were yet too traumatized or wolly-headed to provide an ear. He'd had a beer or two, the night before, took off his hearing aids and gone to bed - waking in the morning to the night's tragedy.
All of the campgrounds we stayed at during our travels that summer were to a lesser degree (of course) similarly Janus-faced. In the daytime folks fished, swam, played volleyball and ate together in some semblance of normality - but at night, any night, most bets were off. Nothing arose to challenge the level of middle-class-white horror we had on New Years night ... but various degrees of ungoverned, ethanol-induced chaos ruled kiwi campgrounds, come sundown, on any given night.
This is not a reproach, or cautionary tale - it's nothing more than a first person account.
Although I wasn't drinking then, and abstain to this day, I continue my habit of staying home on New years Eve.
Humanity is barely sufferable when both they, and I, aren't in the bag. So, as I write, it's roughly 11:13PM and here I sit, waiting for the signaling fireworks outside to resound.