As we bid farewell (and in some cases good riddance) to 2013, a small group of friends joined Kristin and me at our house and partied like it was 1999. Again.
I normally abhor New Year’s Eve and have spent many of my favorite ones quietly at home with my wife well asleep in advance of midnight. But tell me I don’t have to leave the house AND my friends will come to me AND it’s a 90s theme AND I can dress like the dickhead I used to look like (as opposed to the dickhead I look like now) AND I can make pulled pork AND we’ll drink our faces off? Fuck yeah, I’m in.
That is some 90s goodness, right there. Chicks wearing boots and flannel shirts over some tight ass shit. If you love the movie Empire Records as much as I do, then this was your fantasy come to life. I told my wife that I wanted to say she looked like one of the girls in high school who turned me down, but that was incorrect. I never had the sack to approach a girl who looked like her. So I told her she was successfully playing the role of a girl I was too afraid to ask out.
I lent my friend Jason (far right) my “Snootchie Boochies Bluntman!” hat, and our co-host Jeff wore an honest to God “Lilith Fair” t-shirt (he’s the guy in the Bronco hat). Sponge and Better Than Ezra and Biz Markie and TLC and a hundred other bands who are most assuredly not as popular now as they were two decades ago blasted through the stereo all night. We took shots of Froot Loops flavored vodka. We swashbuckled Coors Light. We had a great time.
As I stood on the front porch smoking – another throwback habit resurrected! (it only lasted that night, no worries) – I felt like I did in college, which wasn’t the 90s, but close enough considering I turn 33 this year. I had a great buzz going, cigarette between my fingers, my hair styled into a spiky patch of infield grass on top of my head, music pumping out the window, and a house full of friends inside.
Thinking back to college, I have no idea if we were cool or not. It doesn’t matter one fucking iota, but as a thought exercise, it was sort of interesting to consider in the abstract. Turns out it’s totally unsolvable. We all just had so much goddamn fun, the perceptions of others not only didn’t matter, they didn’t even exist. Experiencing college becomes thoroughly solipsistic both as you’re going through it, and as you remember it. Only you and your friends have providence over your memories, so attempting to judge them against others’ experiences or in the context of what college is or should be, is an exercise in futility (and stupidity). I have no idea what night this was from, but it looks fun as shit.
The reason I dredged up these half-cooked notions of coolness in the first place was because for as much fun as it was to wear an old persona again, the associated baggage all came right with it. From wearing the very same Karl Malone jersey I wore in our 8th grade class picture to sporting the same hairstyle I wore from 1998 – 2007 that I was WAY too wrapped up in, I revisited some of the insecurities that used to plague me. For a brief moment, I wondered if this party was “cool” enough.
Then I remembered it was about to be 2014, I was in my 30s, standing outside a house I fucking owned, and there were 10 people inside laughing, dancing, drinking, and having an awesome time. Coolness is absurd, and maybe I should return to the solipsistic state of college by getting back in there to take a shot and cut a rug. I did just that.
Adulthood is hard. It’s constant work and worry and stress. And while I don’t recommend (nor do I make a habit of) regularly binge drinking, I do recommend throwing off the shackles of adulthood once in a while and returning to a time more footloose and fancy-free. Even with a slight detour to adolescent paranoia about social status and notions of coolness, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to ring in the new year.
Have a happy and prosperous 2014.