New Year's Eve 1966
New Year’s Eve 1966
Just before the start of 1967 I made my first solo appearance at a New Year’s Eve party. I now look back and wish it were more of a cameo appearance. A quick hello. A rushed drink. Give everyone my sincerest Gotta go speech. Kiss, kiss. Bye, bye. Slip into my topcoat and out the door. Taxi! But, since I was only thirteen years old, none of those things occurred to me. Not only would it to be my first New Year’s Eve party, it would be the first ever public appearance of my thirteen year-old erection. (I'd re-phrase that, but i like the sould of it.)
Oh. Have I said too much too soon? Sorry. Let us continue.
The party was at Susan’s apartment in Manhattan. Susan was among a group of friends I was hanging with at the moment. It was a Saturday night. Susan’s parents were at someone else’s New Year’s bash. We would have the apartment to ourselves; all six of us. It was an intimate soiree. Nothing fancy, just cocktails, appetizers, conversation, and music.
To this day I can recall a particular stimulating discussion we had. Literature being upper-most on our minds, we banged heads and rattled off which dirty parts of Jacqueline Susann’s novel Valley of the Dolls we had read. I’m afraid it was more of a snicker-fest than a wordy analysis. Okay, so we weren’t heady readers, but dammit we were somewhat literary. Searching for things we hadn’t experienced yet. Like sex.
I would like to think that the conversation went on to include the war in Viet Nam and civil rights, but it didn’t. More likely we discussed Batman, the new TV series. And I’m sure one of us put their two-cents in about whether or not Batman stuffed his shorts with socks and had a thing for Robin.
Shut up. We were thirteen.
That night would also be my first experience with alcohol. And no cheap six-pack hangovers for us, either. Susan’s parents had a liquor cabinet. We would go out in style. Susan handled that liquor cabinet with all the panache and aplomb of a seasoned hostess. I’m guessing it wasn’t her first party. She was fourteen, mind you, and I was impressed. Susan could slap together a drink and hold a conversation at the same time. A definite turn-on. Even if the conversation was not as flirty as I had hoped.
You see, I had a wild crush on Susan, but Susan had an even wilder crush on my friend Kenny. To this day I cringe every time I think about how I followed them around the neighborhood like a lost and needy puppy. I bring this up for no other reason than to say that it helped develop who I am. I was normally a quiet child, but as I followed them around the streets of New York — burdened with my love torch — I never seemed to shut up. One day they stopped in their tracks and Kenny said to me, Since when are you funny?
It’s said that comedy stems from misery and sorrow, and it seems miserable me developed a sudden sense of humor that caused me to ramble on like an awful vaudeville comic desperate for attention. It wasn’t my finest moment, but it brought something out of me I didn’t know I had. Laugh, clown, laugh.
Let’s leave it at that and get back to the party before this turns into a term paper.
The other guests at the New Year’s Eve party were Roseanne and my friend Kenny. There was another couple, but the names and faces escape me. The girls wore dresses and the boys wore whatever they could find that resembled a suit. But we managed to look presentable enough to pull it off. All that was missing was the middle-aged angst and the war-torn faces of our depression-era parents. We were squeaky clean and ready to start a life that wouldn’t go the same route as theirs. That was the thinking, anyway. But, as the mirror said to the boy with the peach-fuzz face, Good luck with that.
As I remember, my first drink was a Seven and Seven. That drink consisted of Seagrams whiskey and 7 Up. They were delicious and I’m sure involved more than a common bar-pour, because I remember sitting on the sofa feeling uncommonly at ease — and awkwardly aroused. Music was playing, and Roseanne asked me to dance. There was no way of explaining to Roseanne that a boy in my aroused position was in no condition to dance a slow-dance with a fourteen year-old girl who had fully developed breasts. But Roseanne reached down, grabbed me by the hands and pulled me into her bosom. I no sooner fall into her arms when I found myself crashing back onto the sofa. Roseanne’s push was as good as her pull. She was having none of me and my horizontal pup-tent. No one noticed and we spoke not a word of this. Ever.
The rest of the night was a haze. I imagine I went back to my family’s former apartment on Third Avenue, where my brother Robert and his girlfriend Evanthia were now living. I doubt I went anywhere near Flushing, Queens, where my parents could see me. Besides, I’d only have fallen asleep on the subway and gotten myself arrested for vagrancy. And if there was a pup-tent involved, the vice squad would have been called in. Thus ending my career as a serial erectionist.
For auld lang syne, my dears, for auld land syne.
Picture courtesy of Wili Commons: