New Year’s Eve in Chile is a big deal. The closest comparison I can draw is to our Fourth of July. It’s summer, there are fireworks, and people can wear light clothing. New Year’s Eve in Minnesota trails the longest day of the year and usually averages a high of something below zero.
It was my husband’s first New Year’s in the United States. He kept asking all week, “So…what do you do on New Year’s Eve?”
I tried to break the news gently, “You’re going to be disappointed.” I explained that it was usually frigid outside which limited our ability to revel in the street, have barbecues, and debauch things publicly. Plus, I was still suffering from horrible plague sickness (my brother called to wish me a happy new year and thought he called the wrong phone because I sounded like the Brawny paper towels guy), so even though my parents offered to watch Squeaker, chances that we would be going out were slim.
However, on New Year’s Eve, after a full day in bed, I started to feel better. I was still hacking, but I could do so while remaining upright. And not about to pass up the chance to go out without Squeaker, all of her provisions, and the pack mules on which to strap them, we left the house at 5:30 which is prime dinner time in the Midwest, even on New Year’s.
We got to Houlihan’s first because we live large like that. They were only accepting reservations, no “foot traffic”. The hostess told us that with a perfunctory smirk like it was a public service announcement and we should be thankful for her time.
Two other restaurants were the same. People were even waiting 50 deep at Olive Garden. Olive. Garden. That’s like Applebee’s for Italian food. That’s how you spell desperation in the restaurant biz.
At that point wouldn’t you just say your evening was over, it was a valiant effort, and go home and MAKE some pasta? Not us. We pressed on until we found a Mexican restaurant far enough off the beaten track to be only half full. We ordered a parrillada and even though Squeaker wasn’t there, we spent the next hour talking about her and imitating her frenetic motor movements. I’m sure our neighbors wondered why we kept jerkily hitting ourselves in the head and spitting up our food.
I continued to explain to my husband that many people in the United States are content to watch what happens in Time Square and go to sleep, that a big disco ball drops at 12 EST and, in a stunning display of originality, it’s replayed for every time zone. (As if I didn’t feel old enough before I uttered that!) Yes, ringing in a new year is a big deal, but it’s rarely paraded with such pomp as in Chile.
And that’s exactly what we did. With Squeaker in tow, we watched the ball drop in New York City. “So that’s it? Now, it’s, like, 2013 for the whole country?” he asked me disillusioned. Pretty much, I nodded.
Still, 2012 was a super year. We are very fortunate. May 2013 be even more awesome!
I hope you all had a great New Year’s Eve. I’m celebrating by turning 27 in a week and heading back to Santiago. I don’t know what part of that sentence is the bigger deal. More on that.