It is pretty much universally agreed that someone somewhere is having a better time than you. This is never more true than on New Year's Eve, particularly when they are phoning to tell you so.
Phoning, I mean seriously who does that? I'll tell you who, Susan. The phoning bit isn't even the bad part. The worst bit is that she was calling me from within the same house.
"I just snogged a 23-year-old guy."
"I just snogged..."
"Yeah, yeah, I got that, but why are you telling me this? Scratch that, why are you calling me at all. Where are you?"
"I'm in the kitchen."
Of course she was, except hang on a minute... I was in the kitchen and had been for hours. I had been in the kitchen and hardly moved. I was like the guy holding court but, you know, without the court bit. During which time I had not seen a trace of Susan. I had even considered calling that missing persons show although I couldn't remember if they did a New Year special.
"What are you talking about? I am in the kitchen and I haven't seen you in hours."
"Not that kitchen silly, the other kitchen, next to the garden."
Silly? Who says that? It seemed to be another sign of regression among my friends, part of that gentle thirty-something slip to an earlier age. Having said that, I was convinced also that calling people up and telling them you had just snogged someone was another sign of slippage.
"Oh good for you."
"Don't say it like that, I can't help that I'm having a better time than you, can I?"
Oh the cheek of it, how could she even say that to me on this, of all days of the year.
"Hey, you don't know that."
Susan snickered down the line.
"He he he, oh come off it Gord, we all know that you have been standing in the same spot for hours and haven't moved. That's one of your things."
"One of my things?! I don't have a thing."
"Oh you have several things, and really... about those things? If you haven't made a New Year's resolution yet, would you mind if I suggested that you resolve to lose those things in 2005."
"Hey! The guy you're with isn't tall and gangly and on drugs is he? Only I saw one of my cousins running around and well... I think he liked you. He said there was something about older women. He said that they were less choosy. Do you think that's really true? As, to be honest, that has not been my observation."
"Ha! No, this boy is sober."
"Seriously? He said that? Damn, that's my line."
"Gord, I hate to tell you, but you are such a bad loser. Oh, got to go, he wants to snog again."
With that, Susan hung up on me. Did I mention that that girl worships at the altar of the last word. I swear it's like some international female religion. Susan can be so harsh sometimes.
Adam asked me in a barely awake, barely able to raise attention levels kind of way who I had been yammering away on the phone to.
"You mean you can't guess?"
"Well I thought it was Susan, but considering she is actually at the same party, that didn't make any sense and after logically eliminating her I couldn't think who else it could possibly be."
Logical? What on earth was he talking about? I was standing there trying to work out in what crazy construct Adam was able to form a link between logic and women. Then it hit me, as we had been here since seven o'clock (what's that about?) and it was now gone midnight, Adam was drunk, which was the only way to explain his craziness.
"Think again. It was Susan, she is snogging some underage child out back and wanted to let everyone, and by everyone you know I mean us, know what a perfectly wonderful time she was having."
"Why is she having a better time than us?"
"It's the universal law that someone somewhere is having a better time than you. Come on, you know this stuff."
My personal feelings about New Year's Eve is that it is an invitation to your own personal disaster movie where you: A) say silly things ("I really like you"); and B) do even stupider things, which inevitably leads to the question "How on earth did I end up here?". Not so on this occasion, chiefly because despite drinking endless amount of Budweiser I was dreadfully sober. I know it says 5% on the bottle, but I think that that's just an imperialist American lie. I am pretty much sure that the truth is -5%.
Don't worry this is not going to be one of those post-New Year's Eve party rants. Who am I kidding -- that's a total lie, that's just what it is.
This year was a little different as my sister threw an engagement party for a hundred of her closest friends, with a sprinkling of relatives and family friends. In part, this meant every time I left the kitchen I would bump into another relative/family friend who would first ask after my marital status (I swear to god, I think my mother briefed them at some secret pre-party planning meeting) and would then (with a sigh) inform me that their daughter was single.
Mrs Fitch even offered to call her daughter up for me and drag her out of bed at 1.30 in the morning.
"She's only just gone to bed."
"Really? I think she'd probably rather stay there."
"But you two used to play so well together."
"Yeah, I take it she doesn't have the red bike any more?"
This is engagement number two for my sister, following the cancellation of the Hertfordshire wedding spectacular some time back that left my mother's organisational skills at something of a loose end. My mother is still in negotiations with my sister about the planning for wedding number two. At this stage, everything is up for grabs.
Still in the kitchen at around 2am, Adam was again blaming me entirely for his poor evening during which he refused point blank to let up in registering his utter disappointment.
"You promised me there would be single women here."
"I know. I promised everyone the same thing, it seemed only fair, although to be honest some people gave me a slightly funny look when I said that."
"But why would you do that?"
"Well, it's what my sister promised me."
"Great, what does that tell you?"
"Chiefly, that sibling promises are as worthless as those of internet retailers who promise that they will get you your gifts in time for Christmas."
"You know Susan is the only single girl here, don't you?"
"Well to be honest, there is a divorced friend of my mother's, she's 63 but really pretty game."
"Don't worry, I'm sure you will have better luck at the wedding."