The Pinnacle of Good Times

New Year's Eve was quiet for us this year. We invited our good neighbors, the Snows, over for pumpkin pie and games. Savannah did handstands to impress them. Halen just wanted Ben's pocketknife.

Our evening ended early, at about 9. I had to work early New Year's Day, so I slept right through 2006's exit and 2007's entry. Truth be told, I'm not much for New Year's anyways. It's largely just an excuse to get drunk and litter. Ever drive around a suburban neighborhood before sunrise on New Year's Day? It's as if the cosmic shifting of one year to another throws off people's equilibrium and balance so when they try to put garbage in the trash, they miss.

All that said I'm not above a little partying on New Year's. And just to prove it, I'm going to have a little fun and see if I can remember what I did for each New Year's Eve over the past 12 years. If it's hard to imagine having more fun than you will reading my list, that's because reading this list represents the pinnacle of good times for all humanity. It is not possible for greater fun to be had, even with the use of fun-enhancing substances, which I do not endorse.

2005Shannon organizes a New Year's Eve bash… then realizes it's too big to throw at our little apartment. We throw it at someone richer and cooler's townhome. We and four or five other couples stay up until midnight and drink that cider stuff Mormons drink when they want to feel like they're drinking wine. Savannah tries her darndest to make it until the ball drops but falls asleep beneath the dining room table by 11.

2004… In preparation of driving from Gresham, OR to Provo, UT the following day, we go to bed early. We don't miss much – 2005 looks a lot like 2004.

2003… We celebrate the new year in Syria. Contrary to the common assumption that missionaries aren't party animals, the Pitkins – the senior missionary couple serving in Damascus – invite us to their place to enjoy Speed Scrabble and junk food. We play round after round after round of the silly game until well after midnight. Savannah rolls off the bed in her sleep and begins wailing at sometime around 12:30 a.m., so we reluctantly concede to calling it a night.

2002… The sewer backs up into our apartment earlier in the week, so the Thurman family invites us to crash at their castle on Orem's east bench until our place doesn't smell like an outhouse. We enjoy their spectacular view of what seems like the entire western U.S., watch fireworks, and eat Italian ice.

2001… Shannon and I, about to be engaged, watch Better Off Dead with friends in Provo. Shannon fails to appreciate the flick, unimpressed by the part where Ricky's mom blows up. We eventually end up back at my apartment and chat the night away until curfew, when she, naturally, leaves. No honor code violations here.

2000… Just six weeks ago, I thought I was going to marry my girlfriend. She decides to go on a mission – so we obviously don't marry, but we do spend New Year's Eve hanging out with four sets of her married friends. We play Mad Gab. We all kiss our dates at midnight, but the married couples (all of whom are relative newlyweds) don't really stop. My girlfriend and I exchange awkward glances and decide to head home.

1999… I witness the false turn of the millennium (the real one, of course, occurred on New Year's Eve 2000 into 2001) as a missionary. We're traveling around the mission, working with various zones, and stop in Whitby for the night. We crash with the missionaries living in the basement of a member's home. We visit with the McMahons, then I stand on the porch at midnight to see if the Earth will explode. It doesn't, but several drunks the next block over bang pots and pans with spoons and honk their horns. I go to bed disappointed that the Y2K virus didn't cause a worldwide power outage.

1998… My first New Year's Eve in the mission field is spent in an isolated mountain town called Bancroft. I stay up until well past midnight because the upstairs neighbors are having a heck of a party. They play their music so loudly I can hear every note – but I secretly enjoy it inasmuch as it's a guilt-free way to listen to music… I mean, I can't leave. It's my apartment. I fight sleep as long as possible, hoping to enjoy one last song. I finally drift off to the Cars' "My Best Friend's Girl".

1997… Back home in Portland from my first semester of college, I attend the Young Adult New Year's Eve dance at the Beaverton Stake Center. It stinks. I'm too young to be of any interest to all the cute 20-somethings and, to add insult to injury, the guy in the Weezer t-shirt – my arch-nemesis at most stake dances throughout my teens – is also home from college and attends the dance. He has a cute date, too. My date is my roommate Thomas. Curse you, guy in the Weezer t-shirt!

1996… I attend a smattering of New Year's functions – a dance here, a party there – to ensure maximum exposure to sundry sweets.

1995… I'm dating a cheerleader – it's pretty much the pinnacle of my adolescent existence – and I spend the evening with her and her family. We watch the ball drop on their 12-inch TV. I look around and everyone's asleep except me. I sneak out really quietly and drive home, thinking how I thought dating a cheerleader would be a lot cooler.

1994… After the obligatory New Year's Eve church dance, I head to Dave Christiansen's house with the guys. We stay up all night watching cheesy movies, repeating mindless inside jokes, and burning incense while listening to Enigma to try to summon the ghost of Richie Valens.

They may not have been the coolest New Year's Eves ever, but at least I remember them. And that's because I say NO to booze. I also say NO to sniffing Pixie Stix and NO to tiny jogging shorts.