punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,
punkwalrus
punkwalrus

Some New Year's memories

I don't recall New Year's very much as a kid. I don't think our family celebrated it, or if they did, it was totally forgettable. It was past my bedtime anyway, and usually there was an air of uncomfortableness lingering because my mother had possibly gotten drunk on Christmas.

Evecon 5, the one I mentioned where that guy said, "Hey Spock, Nanoo nanoo!" was my first memorable New Year's. I had been living at the FanTek house for a few months by this point, and saw how a con was run from the inside. We had started setup on Thursday, but didn't expect the crowds until Friday morning. But Thursday evening was New Year's eve, and a LOT of fen arrived early. So did some non-fen, and the Stouffer's Concourse hotel in Crystal City was a mix of unready convention security, drunken mundanes, and a lot of hubbub that Isaac Asimov WAS on his way (we didn't know until that Thursday that he was coming for sure). Our security team scrambled to be a buffer between the mundanes and fen.

I got the job near the elevator next to the bar. What a lousy shift that was. Every drunken person made a comment about the headset I was wearing, loudly, like I couldn't hear them. "H-hey, there's some ... guys or something with... antennas on their HEAD. What the HELL? Ha ha ha!" Now I don't mind, I mean, hell, that must have looked odd, but I was 19 then, and pretty self-conscious and took myself FAR too seriously.

A side note: Our security communication back then was a headset we bought for $40 each from Radio Shack. It was on one of the 5 public frequencies used by baby monitors, toy walkie-talkies, and some cheap cordless phones. I think it was 49.75mhz or something. It wasn't in stereo, it was only in one ear, and after wearing it for a few hours, you swore, even if you had taken it off for a while, that you could STILL hear voices in that ear.

As the evening approached, over the headset, I heard the countdown.

Fen1: It's 11:59 guys...
Fen2: Woohoo! One minute to 1988!
Fen1: Yeah, 1988!
Central: Keep the airways clear, please.
Fen3: It's already 1988 in sidereal time [that was my friend, Jason, who had a sidereal watch]
Fen1: What the hell is sidereal time?
Fen4: It sounds vaguely dirty...
Central: I said keep it down, please!
Fen5: Ralph, you there?
Central: Call for Ralph.
Fen1: Thirty seconds!
Fen3: Sidereal time is the measurement of fixed star to fixed star, it's 4 minutes ahead every day.
Fen2: There's some drunks in the lobby.
Central: Drunks? On New Years? No...
Fen1: Twenty seconds!
Fen5: I love you!
Central: Who do you love?
Fen5: It's my secret...
Fen6: Tower to central?
Central: Central here.
Fen6: I love you, too!
Central: Th-thanks. I'll keep that in mind. Note to all staff: Central loves you, too.
Fen1: Thanks, Pat! 10... 9....
Fen2: 8... 7...
Central: It's Ralph. Pat's on rove. We are go for launch!
Fen4: Elvis... has left the building!
Fen2: Has Pat left the building?
Fen1: 3... 2...
Central: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Fen2: --PY NEW YEAR!!!!
Fen5: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Fen3: We seem to already be off by a few seconds...
Fen1: I blame sidereal time!

Or something like that. I was next to the bar and heard everyone counting down. At the zero second, the bar erupted, and not more than ten seconds later, a small woman, wearing a white lacy cocktail dress, stumbled out of the bar. She looked like a model. Or a high-class bar fly (I never could tell the two apart). "H-HUPPY NEW YAAAARRR!!!" she said, with a wide drunken grin and she fell right into me. I had to hold her up, and while she was conscious, she was rip-roaring drunk. She smelled of expensive vodka and the kind of perfume that comes in fabric softeners.

Punkie: Uh... central? This is Punkie... er, I mean Unit 3.
Central: Go ahead, Unit 3.
Punkie: There's uh... drunken ... lady who passed out in front of me.
Central: [snicker] Sounds like you're having a better time than we are.
Punkie: No, I'm serious, she can't hold herself upright.
Central: We'll be right there.

The lady was very small and light. She was holding onto the front of my sweater, regaling me with a tale that her boyfriend had dumped her just an hour earlier. On new Year's Eve. And she was drunk and didn't give a damn. In less than two minutes, she went through several passes of about four major emotional states of calm, sadness, rage, and confusion. A team of about 4-5 security volunteers arrived, and saw me awkwardly trying to hold this lady up. Much snickering ensued.

They helped her up, and led her back to the bar.

Pat Skovran, who was a watch commander at the time, came back and told me, "If this EVER happens again? Call me personally, or if you have to call me on the headset, say it's a 'Code Pat' emergency, okay?" Then he winked. Pat, you lecher. I miss you.

Since those days, I have gotten married, and every New Year's we have had our friend Jason over, he'd educate us on his latest adventures, and then we'd count down with Dick Clark. Then we'd all fall asleep. This year, Jason is spending it with a long distance relationship in Boston (he lives in Tucson now), another astrophysicist from Mexico (by way of Canada... long story). I wish him and his girlfriend the best and brightest New Year's, and hope to meet her some day.

I will be at Sean's party in Reston. I bought gloom tubes, deely-boppers, and noiseless blowouts for the adults and kids. Then the next day, we'll be getting ready for our last... Evecon... ever :(

[sniff]

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000328.html
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