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“Okay,” Christina reiterated to Jane, “I know it’s expensive, but Jake’s already bought his tickets and, like, they have a free champagne toast at midnight.”
Jane looked blankly into her phone trying to figure out what app people were using to make their Instagram stories all jerky.
“$150 really isn’t that bad when you think about it,” Christina continued while adjusting her sequined shirt that she had chosen for the night over her jet black jumpsuit.
Using every fiber of her being in an effort not to roll her eyes, Jane finally relinquished. “Fiiiiiiine,” she responded, “but only because Jake’s going to be there.”
Jake threw a tennis ball at the wall after taking a shot of Kentucky Deluxe in an apartment across town. His iPhone was plugged into the aux cord which meant he was missing texts left and right.
“Should we do a power hour before this thing?” he asked Brandon, who was digging in the fridge looking for another Coors Light rather than the craft beers their art school friend, Tim, had left there the weekend before.
He emerged from the refrigerator with two beers in his hand and let out a loud burp. “Fuck that,” he said, “That shit’ll make me too full before we have to go to that hotel. What was it called again?”
“The Continental,” Jake responded.
Christina wiped her mouth after taking her third shot of vodka. Worried she was going to throw up, she took an extra long chug of the Vitamin Water she had bought for the next morning’s hangover.
“Are you wearing a coat tonight?” Jane asked.
“Uhhhhhhh,” Christina hesitated while weighing the temperature in her head, “I think so? Isn’t it like 25 degrees outside?”
Jane looked into the closet trying to find her peacoat. “I’m just worried someone will steal the new coat I just got for Christmas,” she said with a tinge of concern. “Ugh, whatever.”
Brandon and Jake had been drinking for the better part of two hours before they began to feel antsy. Brandon’s girlfriend had gone home for the holiday and Jake, obviously, had spent the majority of his Christmas break trying to meet up with Christina. They had made out the weekend before Christmas, but Jake had already romanticized that night to the point where not meeting up with her simply wasn’t an option.
“Christina’s going to be there, right?” Brandon reiterated. “I’m not paying $150 for this shit if we’re just going to stand there with our dicks in our hands not knowing anyone.”
Jake was clearing the empties off the kitchen island when he responded.
“Yeah, man, she’s going to be there, she literally just texted me.”
“Alright, let’s call an Uber.”
It wasn’t until Christina and Jane arrived at the hotel that their bad idea turned into a worse idea. Their phones hardly getting service due to all the people downtown, their Uber’s price was surged by 2x, and Jane’s urge for them to do one last shot of Svedka put them too far over the edge when it was still only 10 p.m.
With a line winding around the block to get in, they both wondered whether or not this could possibly be the event they had just bought tickets online for 90 minutes earlier.
“Did we seriously pay this fucking much to stand out in the cold?” Christina wondered.
“This better go fast,” Jane said aloud while digging through her handbag trying to find her lipstick.
“Wait,” said Christina, “I think that’s Jake up there.”
She could only see his shaggy brown hair peeking out of a Barbour jacket so it literally could’ve have been anyone.
“Does it look desperate to go wait in line with him?”
Looking about eight couple’s ahead of them, Jane’s concern had nothing to do with Christina and Jake and more to do with wanting to get inside The Continental before her fingers caught frostbite.
“I’m going to text him,” Christina told her.
Yeah, Jane thought, Because texting him when he’s in shouting distance won’t sound desperate.
“Fuck,” she said after typing a message into her phone, “It’s not going through.”
The figure ahead of them pulled his phone out of his coat pocket and turned to his friend.
“Yep,” Christina said, “That’s him.”
Jane tilted her head back in annoyance. Being Type A, she couldn’t fathom why Christina and Jake were so afraid to be around each other when they had been lost in each other’s texts for the last two weeks.
They began cutting the line, half-apologizing to the people they were walking ahead of while also being able to feel heat coming from the hotel entrance’s doors.
“Jake!” Christina said, mostly startling him. “Funny seeing you here!”
Jake turned and was taken aback, not ready to see her this early in the night. Brandon and Jane, on the other hand, were finally relieved to pass them off to one another. Both in somewhat serious relationships, their nights could fizzle out early or snowball into an all-nighter. They didn’t care.
“Oh!” Jake responded. “I was just about to text you!”
He was actually hoping to make it inside before texting her so he could get down a couple rum and cokes, but clearly that wasn’t going to happen anymore.
“Mind if we wait in line with you?” Christina asked while Brandon shook Jane’s hand with the tacit understanding that they were solely there to appease their best friends.
“Yeah,” he assurred her, “That’s fine!”
His over-politeness made Brandon cringe.
It wasn’t until 11:30 came along when things started to heat up, both literally and figuratively. Jane had made her way to meet up with some college friends she hadn’t seen in a few months. Brandon had struck up a friendship with some guys who also wanted to watch the end of whatever bowl game as on.
And Christina and Jake stood idly in the middle of the hotel’s conference-area-turned-party-room trying to figure out how to talk to one another with actual words rather than texts.
They both knew they’d kiss at midnight, but that didn’t stop either of them from power drinking to make it less awkward. The vodka shots she had started her night with turned into vodka-sodas that would eventually lead to her demise.
“I’m so glad we met up,” she drunkenly explained to him while he burped up cheap spiced rum. He considered going in for a kiss before midnight struck but wasn’t certain he could hold his dinner – homemade nachos with Pace salsa – down with how much he’d been drinking.
Each of them scanned the room looking for the counterparts they’d come with but could only see bright lights and a DJ who had just pressed play on a Kygo song.
11:58 came faster than they had realized and their decision to go to the bar to get a celebratory shot before The New Year had turned out to foil each of their plans to have a picturesque kiss as the ball dropped. Well, not an actual ball, but a makeshift contraption the hotel had put together the day before.
With a stack of three people in front of them, they questioned not only how they were going to get their shot order in before midnight, but how they were going to get their complimentary champagne toast as well.
The bartenders ran frantically behind the bar trying to pour cheap prosecco into plastic champagne flutes – about an inch of prosecco per flute. Handing them over the bar and putting them on trays that would also get handed off to servers, there was simply no way the “complimentary champagne toast” was going to live up to their expectations.
He grabbed her hand while people slammed into them trying to get their flute of champagne.
She checked her phone to make sure it said 11:59 and not midnight. As it turned out, it said “12:00, January 1, 2018” and the DJ had mistimed the song that was supposed to ring in the New Year.
Jake had a flashback of kissing her that weekend before Christmas. He was more nervous this time, yet probably more drunk.
She looked up at him.
He looked down at her.
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!” they yelled before he leaned over and gave her a kiss – her mouth tasting like vodka and lemon, his tasting like cigarettes and rum. It was everything they had imagined despite not being what they imagined at all.
“Auld Lang Syne” played over the hotel speakers while they tried to figure out whether they should keep pushing toward the bar or make their way back to find their friends who they probably wouldn’t see regardless.
Jake nearly tripped as they went to the center of the ballroom, and her worst fears began to come to life when she realized she couldn’t remember where she had put her coat.
“Why don’t I just call us an Uber and we can go to Square Bar over on 7th street?” he asked, worried she wouldn’t be able to walk anywhere.
After the app crashed twice before he could call a car, a prompt came up asking if he approved of the 8X surge pricing on the Toyota that was about to take 20 minutes to go two miles to pick them up. He took a screenshot so he could tweet it later and complain publicly to an Uber customer service representative.
Texting “wheeeeereeeeee aaaaaaarrrrrreeeee youuuuuuuuuu” to Jane, Christina adjusted the paper “Happy New Year” crown she had acquired at the entrance earlier in the night and simply thought to herself, “I fucking hate New Year’s Eve.” .
Image via Flickr