Last year’s New Year’s resolution: don’t go out on New Year’s. It was a simple rule to live by, freeing me to live 364 straight days without the burden of losing weight, drinking less, loving more, or being on time. 2011 had been the best year of my life up to this point — no unrealized potential, no failed expectations. So, with one day left in the year, this was the one promise I had to keep. No matter how many friends’ parties I was invited to, there was no way in hell I was going out on New Year’s Eve.
I woke up on January 1, 2011 on a friend’s inflatable mattress with a huge hangover. I had spent most of the night before sulking in the corner of a bar. My year had ended with disaster, watching the girl I liked make out with someone else on the dance floor. New Year’s parties were always painful to me, but this one was a bullet to my brain. As far as I was concerned, New Year’s died that night, and the only appropriate resolution was to mourn its death.
I decided to spend New Year’s Eve alone as a “fuck you” to the sky-high expectations the holiday consistently failed to meet. Then, a week ago, I saw a commercial for New Year’s Eve. Right then, I knew what I had to do. I wouldn’t just spend New Year’s alone; I would spend it alone in a movie theater, watching the worst movie I’ll probably ever pay to see. The fact that said film would actually be called “New Year’s Eve” pretty much sealed the deal.
My plan was to livetweet from @notpaolo the night’s events as they unfolded. I figured I’d sneak in a bottle of whiskey and spend the night in the back of the theater, parsing what the movie means to my life and the world at large, while taking down notes to post a more fully-formed report afterward. Perhaps my night would end with vicarious celebration, and give closure to the year 2011. More likely, I thought, it would end with me passed out drunk in the back of a movie theater.
After having some time to reflect on that fateful night, here is my report from New Year’s Eve as it unfolded:
8:30pm – My first tweet reads: “watching “new year’s eve” alone downtown for new year’s. it felt necessary. i’ll be livetweeting for the 10:40 showing.”
8:40pm – Friends on Facebook and Twitter experience confusion, sadness.
8:43pm – I feel like there’s a chance I’ll be alone at the theater, as everyone will be out partying. But then I remembered old people and families don’t do partying.
8:45pm – Some predictions. Number of people who will be bored enough at their party to actually follow me on Twitter: 3. Number of people who will be bored enough with their lives to actually watch “New Year’s Eve” with me at the theater on midnight: 17. (One family of four, three ironic hipster couples, two old couples, two recently-divorced middle-aged women, one creeper sitting in the back.)
9:09pm – Watching Knicks-Kings right now. My best New Year’s Eve was spent with my brother, watching a Clippers-76ers game on the final night of 2009. I was supposed to go to five parties that night. I blew off all of them. No failed expectations, just basketball with my brother. Bliss.
9:20pm – My friends just invited me to take MDMA with them before the movie.
9:22pm – I’ve never taken MDMA before. But if I’m going to try my first drug outside of pot, this might be the exact best way to do it.
9:28pm – Meeting a few friends at Zuccotti Park to take MDMA before the movie. Occupy Wall Street seems like the best venue to have a New Year’s party.
9:44pm – On the subway now, en route to Wall Street. Everyone on this train just got off at Times Square. This will be undoubtedly the worst New Year’s of their lives.
10:29pm – Just took MDMA for the first time in a dark alleyway near Zuccotti Park. There are cops everywhere. Upon hugging my friends goodbye, I said, “See you next year!” which might be the lamest thing I’ve said in 2011.
10:35pm – Waiting for a train now. The movie starts at 10:40pm. I’ll be late, but there are previews, right? You never really know. If the theater people were smart, they would have synced the starting time so that 12:00 in the movie “New Year’s Eve” coincided with 12:00 in the real New Year’s Eve. That would rule.
10:43pm – Lots of “Happy New Year” hats and blinking “2012” glasses on the subway (some with an eyehole inside the “1.” I thought that would stop after 2009). 90% of the train is on the way to a party. The other 10% is asleep, and clearly on the way home.
10:51pm – I ran to the movie theater because (a) I was late, and (b) my friend said MDMA starts working best after exercise. Even though I’m covered in sweat, I don’t feel anything yet. I’m a little worried.
10:56pm – Just in time for the previews. The best/worst one is Titanic 3-D, which took the liberty of only using clips that would look great in 3-D. Like the scene where Leo and Kate run through the flooding hallway, the “top of the world” scene, the “never let go” scene, and the Leo drawing Kate scene. Now that I think of it, all of those scenes were in the original trailer.
10:59pm – The movie is starting! I know nothing about it, but apparently it takes place in Times Square. Duh.
11:00pm – Zac Efron’s first lines: “Yo wassup girl, I see you. Yo wassup playa.” Good sign.
11:04pm – Most interesting subplot so far: Seth Meyers and Jessica Biel are trying to pay off their student loans by giving birth to the first baby of the new year. Considering there are seven other plotlines, this is not a good sign.
11:06pm – Most ironic subplot so far: lovelorn New Year’s hater Ashton Kutcher is determined to spend the night by himself, and must fend off repeated invitations from cutie pie Zac Efron.
11:08pm – Way more people in the theater than I thought there would be. Predicted number: 17. Actual number: 33. Twelve couples (all in their 20s or 30s), one large group of high school kids, three other people watching alone.
11:11pm – Most notable roles so far:
1. Jon Bon Jovi as an asshole Christian Rock star.
2. Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine girl) as Sarah Jessica Parker’s almost-hot teenage daughter.
3. Ludacris as an NYPD officer.
11:21pm – Biggest laugh so far comes from Newark joke.
11:27pm – Subplot most likely to make me cry/laugh/feel really weird: Zac Efron helping Susan Sarandon complete a tenfold list of New Year’s resolutions in the hours before midnight. On that list: “Go to Bali,”Save a life,” “Be amazed.”
11:30pm – When packing my bag to bring to the theater, I somehow forgot to bring my bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, but remembered to bring my Murakami book. They are roughly the same weight.
11:34pm – Only MDMA symptom so far: my hands are tingly. That might just be me typing on my iPhone for 30 minutes.
11:42pm – Sarah Jessica Parker basically plays Carrie Bradshaw in this. Except she lives off of the Myrtle stop on the M train. Carrie would never live in Bushwick.
11:45pm – Second biggest laugh so far comes from Staten Island joke.
11:56pm – Movie is setting up for everyone to fuck at midnight. I’m most excited for:
1. Ludacris and Hilary Swank
2. Zac Efron and Susan Sarandon
3. Abigail Breslin and her 13-year-old Hispanic friend
4. Terminally ill Robert DeNiro and his nurse, Halle Berry.
11:58pm – Oh shit. Two minutes to midnight. Are people in this theater going to realize it’s New Year’s? How many will pick up “Happy New Year” calls from their drunk friends?
11:59pm – I’ve decided to yell “Happy New Year!” really loudly and start a slow clap. Or maybe I should start the slow clap first, and then yell?
12:01am – “Happy New Year!” I just yelled it out super loud (no slow clap). I guess everyone was engrossed in the movie, because only a few people yelled it back, after checking their phones to make sure I wasn’t crazy.
12:05am – Surprisingly, no one is picking up their phones — either because no one who sees “New Year’s Eve” on New Year’s Eve actually has any friends, or because the movie finally introduced an iota of dramatic conflict.
12:07am – I tweet: “no one is reading this, right?” Only one response: “@notpaolo wrong”
12:23am – I won’t give away too much, but everything that you think will happen happens. Sometimes, that’s all you really need.
12:28am – Why don’t we celebrate the year that just passed, like we do anniversaries? Happy 2011, right?
12:33am – Nearing the climax now. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg makes a cameo, along with Ryan Seacrest, who plays himself. This movie would be so much better if every character just played themselves.
12:36am – A minute left until midnight. Time slows down, and a countdown montage begins. Dramatic cuts to every character about to kiss.
12:38am – As the clock strikes midnight, Lea Michele sings “Auld Lang Syne” over extended montage, as every character’s primary conflict gets resolved. Perfect.
12:40am – Last line of “New Year’s Eve,” Narrator: “That’s New Year’s Eve to me. Hope. Hope and a great party.”
12:43am – The fact that I was able to type for half of the movie and still understand all eight plotlines pretty much says it all. Surprisingly, the endearing chemistry between Zac Efron and Susan Sarandon provided the movie’s only rewarding moments.
12:46am – Oh shit, that wasn’t Susan Sarandon. That was Michelle Pfeiffer. How did I get that so wrong?
12:52am – Does anyone else always stay until the end of the credits? Everyone else has officially left the theater. I am officially alone in New York on New Year’s. I am beginning to comprehend how ridiculous this night is.
1:01am – I didn’t think the MDMA did anything until I stood up and walked out to a well-lit room. It’s taking a while to focus on faraway objects. Time is going by faster.
1:15am – I’m sitting on the steps of Union Square now. “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah!” yells a group of revelers. Everyone is dressed up, more attractive than they usually are, sitting on the steps, eating Halal food or hot dogs. I have a lot of texts.
1:20am – I guess I’ll go to a party? I’m going to go to a goddamn party. I wasn’t planning to, but if “New Year’s Eve” taught me anything, it’s that I should be with the people I love.
1:34am – On my way to meet some friends. On the subway now. Vomit everywhere.