The point is to keep it small and meaningful, but allow for loads of fun. So this is how it goes: I show up half and hour early to help Wesley clean her house. I come prepared with noisemakers, homemade pizza, Chinese herbs (immune boosters), and an overnight bag. She’s got the hummus and chips, vintage record player blasting Benny Goodman, and antique glasses for our especial Argentinian Malbec wine.
By 8pm MD is there arranging slices of sausage and cheddar cheese in artistic formation across a long cutting board. We talk about Cuba and Latino men, which leads to many toasts in the name of “Cuba Libre!” even though we have no rum and coke.
By 9pm DT and John arrive with hugs and kisses for everyone and DT has finished my handmade pair of earrings that include two thing slices of mica pressed together to frame antique Walt Whitman stamps. Perfect for the writerly trip I’m about to embark on.
By 10pm Quincy and Noelle and Guthrie arrive, dressed to the nines and about as urban as you can get. Picture three Chicago hipsters walking in spiked heels or flat Converse across a gravel drive by the light of the moon, a backdrop of mountains peering over the rare specimens. We propose a toast – to all things great and small – and the intensity begins.
“I’m not sure if this is appropriate, but…” Noelle leans in to whisper something in Wesley’s ear.
“Well, it looks good, what is it?” Wesley says, sniffing the pastry pan filled with mystery goodies.
“Pistachios, something pistachio flavored!” DT shouts, licking the bright green frosting.
“Nooooo,” Quincy laughs. “Try again.”
“Brownies – obviously,” MD says, pointing to a clump of escaped dough that baked onto the side of the pan.
“Well, kinda,” Guthrie breaks his typical silence.
“But why the green frosting? Christmas? Good luck?” I fail to understand.
We all ponder the question until Noelle starts cracking up. “Just eat some, you’ll love them, trust me.”
By 12:03 a.m. we are all crowded around the Monopoly board high as kites from pot brownies and nothing seems funnier than the fact that John now owes MD $1,700 rent for landing on his hotel-developed properties.
“Oh my God! It’s after midnight! We missed it! We missed the New Year!” Wesley is shouting from the kitchen, and we all jump up from the game to huddle around the clock and stare in awe.
“No it isn’t!” I say, taking the clock off the wall and setting it back four minutes. “Quick! Get the noisemakers!”
“The what?” DT and John say in unison.
“Here,” Wesley shoves pots and pans and wooden spoons into their arms. “Noisemakers.”
“Outside! Outside!” I herd the masses onto the deck.
“Why?” DT and John, again.
“Why? We’re sending our call out! Scaring off all the bad luck for the year and sounding our barbaric yawps to the world! Why else?”
“But how do know what time it is now?” MD says, realizing that none of us have watches and the only clock (albeit altered) is inside where we cannot see it.
“10! 9! 8!” I start to shout, looking around for the chorus to join me.
“7! 6! 5!”
“What?” DT and John again, over the cacophony of pots and pans.
“4! 3! 2! !” the chorus rings out, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”