12 Days of Archived Holiday Content: An important message from the editor

January 13, 1999

Neal Ozano

Happy New Year! Holy sweet merciful crap, it’s 1999. That’s possibly the easiest year to type, after 1111 and 0.

Isn’t it interesting how people seem to remember exactly where they were the year turned? I think it is, so I’ll write about it. Try to stop me.

The evening started with a bang. At approximately 10:00 PM, I escaped from the horrid battleground that is my cousin’s apartment, leaving him, his parents, and his other relatives, to fight over what board game they wanted to play for the remainder of the year. Fortunately, I’d made plans to escape from there well before they started throwing feces and screaming at each other.

Soon after returning home, I collected half a bottle of rum, and departed for a friend’s residence. Upon arriving there, I drank a third of a two-litre bottle of Coke, and proceeded to top up the bottle with all the rum. My friend was already well on his way to inebriation, so it was easy to convince him that he wanted to walk down Whyte avenue for six blocks, while drinking (guzzling) form a cleverly disguised bottle of “Coke.” By the time we reached our destination, the Strathcona Hotel, the bottle was empty, and cleverly placed in the box of a large Dodge truck. Later, I remembered that it was illegal to carry open alcohol on the streets, but after that, I remembered that I didn’t care.

The Strathcona Hotel is a bar with character. The best part of the bar is the service. There are two ladies who serve you. One will remind you of your favourite aunt who won’t take any shit from anyone. And the other one will remind you of your favourite mother, the one who throws her dishrag at you, and tells you to wipe the mess off of the chair you had your feet on, or you won’t get any beer.

So, anyway, the year was ticking down inside the Strathcona Hotel, but no one seemed to care. There were no clocks in the bar, and I had lost my watch in grade 8, so I assumed that I had enough time to go to the bank machine in the lobby. After several times, I inserted my card, and got a slip of paper from the machine that said “out of order.” Frantically, I ran out of the building. Ha. Semi-enthusiastically, I walked out of the building, scanning the horizon for a cash dispenser of some sort. Down the street, I spied the sweet brown and yellow CIBC sign, and trundled off. As I began crossing the street, cars and people honked and screamed, and I became really scared. Not really. I actually became very happy. And dizzy. 1999! “Happy News Year!” I yelled to some people on the street-corner. “Happy New Year!” I yelled to the Army and Navy Store. “Happy New Year, bank! Whattheuungh! Grrraaaaaahhhhh!” I forced the bank door open, not realizing that all I had to do was open the magnetic lock with my bank card. “I’ss just schticky,” I yelled to some people trying to get in, once I had forced my way through the door, while body-checking the door into one of their foreheads. This act began what would be an evening of helpfulness unparalleled by any modern inebriated humanitarians. But not before some more drinking occurred.

Back at the “Strat,” we celebrated the New Year by talking to the most depressing 44-year-old on the face of the earth.

“I’ve been living in this hotel! It’s great. It’s only $277 a month. The only disadvantage is that I have no phone, kitchen, bathroom, or running water, and a complete lack of air conditioning, and my mattress smells like urine. Other than that, though, it’s great! Except for the pigeons.”

We told him to watch our coats, and then played pool, which basically involved me knocking the balls off the table, and then laughing uncontrollably, and watching as the ceiling fell away from me, pushing me towards the floor. Fun.

Soon, after the pool game ended, we began to trek home.

While in front of the Rebar, I realized that a lot of good people would be stuck on Whyte Ave without my help. So we proceeded to stand out in the street with them, trying to flag down cabs. First, we helped Robin, a (most of the details elude me, for some reason) girl. We flagged down one cab, and it was then that she told us something (I don’t remember what.) So I let the cab go (note: cab drivers hate when you do this), and we stood with her a little longer in the middle of the street. Finally, another vehicle (?) drove up, she hugged and kissed us goodbye, and I felt a cold sore coming on almost immediately. But I still wanted to help people. The essence of kindness was oozing from my pores on the dawn of the New Year, I wanted to make sure that I used it to its fullest capacity, so I stumbled back into the street. “You’ll never get a cab like that, you.” I said to a group of Mexicans (why were there Mexicans in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve?) standing on a white, dotted line. I proceeded to do exactly what they were doing, which was stand in the middle of the street and wave at cars, all the while wondering what they were doing so far from the land of Tequila.

“Why are you up in Edmonton?” I asked them.

“LKsid kjls igjeov, asj i worig la, if,” they answered.

“What?” I asked, feebly trying to focus my eyes on at least one of them, and failing miserably.

“Msaefi wofnmoc woc, wcm ncwio kljcwn cwjkncsa.”

At this point, I realized that I had lost the ability to comprehend human speech, and pushed all the Mexicans down, and ran away. We seemed to do a lot of running on the way home, from when we dragged multiple “Condos For Sale” signs into the middle of 107 street, to when we walked into some apartment and pushed the intercom buttons, to when we ran for the sake of running (and falling). Actually, I think most of the falling occurred when my “friend” pushed me down. I remember eating a lot of snow.

In the course of our falling, I managed to lose a little blue notebook entitled “Every Piece of Information You’ll Need Next Week.” Actually, it wasn’t called anything, but that is what it contained. If you see it in a snowbank, bring it to me, and I’ll give you a prize, more than likely involving copious amounts of something you really like.

When we got back to my friend’s place, we turned on a movie. He passed out I went to the bathroom, and retched my guts out (asking myself the whole time “did I even eat that?”) and then proceeded to walk home with my boots undone and one of my socks in my hand.

There’s a point to all this ranting, of course. You can spend your New Year’s Eve at home, drinking, and warm, but if you really want something to write home about, go drink your face off in public. You’re guaranteed to do something you’ll remember long after all the bruises heal.

Yes, I suppose I am advocating public intoxication. But only if it’s me who is inebriated. Or you.

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