Editor's note: We asked you, our treasured readers, to tell us about your worst New Year's Eve experiences. But you let us down (except for you, Mrs. Julaaun Moseley, and your New Year's Eve 1989 did sound truly sucky. We're glad things worked out for the best, though). So we asked around, and it turns out our very own Leigh de Armas has personally experienced one of the most sucktacular New Year's Eves ever, in the history of the world. We hope you enjoy her misery.
New Year's Eve is a holiday designed to make us feel like crap. We spend weeks preparing to dish out hundreds of dollars for the perfect outfit and an endless stream of cocktails. Then, before we can say, "Was that it?" we're staggering out to the curb feeling another year older, fat from the holidays and unattractive, mainly because we're always too drunk to realize that the "hottie" we were kissing at midnight was actually a fat slob with a tooth missing.
Call me a cynic. But I have good reason to be cynical.
It all started at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 1998. It was one of the coldest Florida New Year's Eves I've ever experienced. That night, more than 200 kids were invited to a party in the enormous, three-acre backyard of a house on the corner of Goldenrod and Buck roads, near the University of Central Florida. No one knew who owned the house, and no one cared. What mattered was the fact that there were going to be six kegs at the party, and for a bunch of 17-year-old Winter Park High School students, that was like winning the lottery.
Fifteen of my closest friends, and my high school sweetheart, Davy Howell, rode to the blowout on a party bus. We pulled up onto a gravel driveway, the bus doors swung open and like kindergarteners running toward the playground at recess, everyone raced to the backyard gate, including my boyfriend.
"Wait for me, Davy!" I yelled as I rushed to grab my purse and follow my friends. Davy kept running. "Davy, wait!" I shouted, trying to catch up. I blinked and he was gone, lost in the sea of red plastic cups.
Not wanting to seem like a desperate loser eagerly rushing up to a strange house in the middle of nowhere, I decided to play it cool and walk. I finally reached the gate and casually swung it open.
The place was crawling with beautiful girls decked out in stylish jackets and matching boots. I looked the complete idiot standing next to them in my gray shirt, thin black pants and flip-flops. (I'd forgotten to check the weather before leaving home and didn't realize a blustery cold front was blowing through. The temperature was already in the 30s when we got to the party, and I didn't own a jacket.)
"Oh my gosh, honey, aren't you cold?" a girl I'd never met asked me.
"Nah, I'm fine," I said with a smile, trying to stop my teeth from chattering.
The reality of the situation started sinking in: My feet were freezing, my friends had abandoned me and my date was nowhere to be found. I scanned the yard looking for a familiar face, but recognized no one.
Thirty minutes passed, and I still couldn't find anyone I knew. Then I saw my friend Matt Puckett walking up to one of the kegs. A feeling of relief washed over me. "Hey Matt, where is everyone?" I asked.
Matt was incredibly shy. "I don't know," he answered quietly. Then he stood next to me and didn't move for 15 minutes. Neither of us said much.
Suddenly I heard Davy's voice yelling from behind me. I turned around and saw him walking toward me with a scowl on his face, screaming obscenities. Davy was a big guy, and Matt was scared, so he scurried off into the woods like a squirrel.
"I saw you talking to Matt, you slut! What's going on with you two?" he asked, slurring the words.
Davy was not the jealous type, so for him to question my loyalty was very strange, especially because I was completely whipped and he knew it.
"What the hell are you talking about?" I asked angrily. "Matt and I barely said anything to each other. I've been standing here all night looking for you!"
"Whatever," he said with a dismissive hand gesture as he walked away.
At that exact moment I heard someone shriek, "One minute till New Year!" I ran to catch up with Davy. There was less than a minute left for me to fix the situation and arrange for my first New Year's kiss. I grabbed the back of his shirt, and he turned around furious.
"Will you tell me why you are acting like this?" I said, a little softer. The 10-second countdown began and 200 voices filled the air.
"TEN, NINE, EIGHT…"
"Leigh, this just isn't working out for me," Davy said.
"SIX, FIVE …"
"I don't think I want a girlfriend," he said.
My heart stopped beating in my chest. "Are you really breaking up with me right now, in the middle of the New Year's countdown?"
"Why don't you go talk to Matt?" he said sarcastically as he walked away.
The crowd erupted in cheers. Red plastic cups were flying everywhere, and for the first time that night, I could see my friends all around me, kissing their dates, laughing and hugging one another. I turned to leave and was rooted to the spot by the sight of Davy kissing a strange girl four feet in front of me. I watched as he pulled away from her and grabbed another drunk girl to kiss. I was utterly humiliated.
Like a dog with her tail between her legs, I made my way out to the gravel sidewalk and sat alone on the grass near a ditch. It was so cold, I could hardly feel my feet. I put my head in my hands and tried to escape to a happy place. But the horrors of my night were just beginning.
I heard a rustling in the woods and watched as a dozen guys emerged from the bushes, marching toward the party with bats in their hands. They looked drunk and angry; some had their shirts off. None of the drunk and jubilant partygoers had a clue that the celebration was about to be ambushed by a crew of frat fag look-alikes.
I heard Davy holler at them, but before I could turn my head to see where he was standing I was picked up by a stranger and pushed into the party bus. As I scooted toward a window to see what was happening, dozens of drunk teenagers piled into the bus behind me. My face was pressed hard against the glass. All I could hear was yelling, and all I could feel were the jolts of people punching each other. I couldn't move. I couldn't even turn my head.
I did have a front-row view of Davy and five of my friends punching, kicking and pile-driving the interlopers with sticks. In 10 seconds flat, the ruckus went from a light scuffle between about a dozen guys to a full-on riot. It was as if all 200 kids had joined in the fighting. The bus was rocking back and fourth, and our Indian bus driver was freaking out at the top of his lungs, "I'm call cops! I'm call cops!" while his cell phone rang to the tune of "Jingle Bells."
I heard the bus door slide shut. There were so many people stuffed inside that it felt airtight. The fights continued, but I still couldn't turn my head to see who was punching whom.
The wheels of the bus kicked up gravel as it sped away. The bus driver was wailing on his cell phone, and I heard loud thumps against the bus, as if he was driving straight through the melee.
After we'd been on the road for about five minutes I was finally able to unpeel myself from the window and turn my head. My friend Beau was sitting next to me in a daze, with blood pouring down his face. My other friend Derek was sitting beside him, giggling to himself and holding Beau's head wound. "Dude," Derek said, trying to control his drunken laughter. "Dude, you're fine, bro. You're head's not busted up."
Beau started laughing but stopped when blood ran into his eyes. He shoved Derek away and put his hand on his head. A look of horror stained his expression as he held his blood-soaked hand in front of him. "There's a fucking hole in my head!" he screamed. "Derek, there's a hole in my head!"
For 15 minutes I heard only "hole in my head, dude!" and the jingle-bell ring of the driver's cell phone. I wanted to stick my thumb in my mouth and curl up into the fetal position, but there wasn't room.
Beau got 17 staples in his head that night at the emergency room. Davy and I didn't talk for weeks, and although I hated him then, I've forgiven him now. He was acting like any high school guy would. He didn't dump me because he was jealous. He dumped me because he wanted to seize the moment. I mean, who wants a girlfriend when there are dozens of hot, available women and you're stuck with a geek in flip-flops?
Ever since then, I've hated New Year's Eve. And New Year's Eve has continued to hate me back. For three years after the dumping/riot, I went home before midnight. Last year I didn't go out at all.
This year I'm going to the beach. I'm going to spend $10 on a six-pack of Corona and a TV dinner, watch the ball drop on TV and play Yahtzee with my fiance.
You may think I need to get over the past, and you may think you have great New Year's Eves. But deep inside you know I'm right. New Year's sucks. It never lives up to the anticipation. Save your money. Skip the lame parties. Boycott the silly, pointless traditions. Or don't. Just don't come crying to me when you end the night with a hole in your head.