three strangers hate me (and another just hates my sins)

New Year. Full of promise. Fresh and pure as the driven blah blah bleeeeeeeeeeee.

Suck it, 2006.

Let me tell you what’s already gone wrong. Make a pot of coffee. And that resolution you made about drinking less coffee? Eff it. Seriously. Eff it right along with the one about calling people back and how you’re going to do it. You’re seriously not going to do it.

We’ll start with the party, which really was a fun party, at least on the 2005 side of it. A friend of a friend has her birthday on December 31, so she rents out a giant loft space off Union Square, charges a cover, and provides a night of free booze for all. It’s a night out in the worst city in America in which to attempt a chill New Year’s that doesn’t disappoint expectations, but Jackie’s party definitely strikes the right balance. And it’s about as far away from Dick Clark as the Manhattan geography will allow.Midnight came…and went. I have a bit of an obsessive compulsive need to be in the presence of a countdown to the beginning of the new year. And while I don’t need a noise blower and a pair of novelty glasses with “2006” written on them (though Sars rocked the hell out of the pair she wore, I have to say) or a champagne-drenched college girl puking on my shoes, there are certain markers of the New Year’s pageantry that I kind of hold dear. And one of those markers is being able to count with pinpoint accuracy — to the second, one might even argue — when the calendar page flips and I can start misdating my checks for the first three months of the year. But we couldn’t get the TV to work. So, fine. No countdown.It was this discussion I believe I was having while in line for the bathroom with Miranda. Enjoying a perfectly private wine-drenched conversation in a perfectly normal indoor speaking voice with one of my oldest and dearest friends, we were suddenly interrupted by a gentlemen I had never seen nor spoken to, who exited the bathroom and asked me, “Do you have any idea how many times you said the word ‘like’ in the last five minutes?” I stared dumbly and permitted him to finish his thought, “Because it really does make you sound like a vacuous idiot.” He might even have put his hand on my shoulder when he said it, as if he genuinely wanted me to understand that the conversation in which he was not invited to participate was not up to his erudite standards of human communication. While waiting to use the can. At one in the morning. On New Year’s Eve. After a bottle of wine.Much like the time I told someone what I did for a living and he responded with a perfectly deadpan, “What did you do, lose a bet?” I froze in the retort-free zone of the actually stunned. Because “You’re a dickwad” seemed unsporting for the New Year and “You’re aware of the irony that you said the word ‘like’ in your sentence as well” might have gone floating, like, right over his head, I watched him walk off and disappear back into the crowd.And y’know, I really wish he had at least complained about something valid. I talk a lot, yes, but I choose my words carefully and I believe I speak them with clarity. Because I went to a northeast liberal arts college that didn’t prepare me to do anything other than chat elegantly at a cocktail party (it was my major. I minored in “Driving To Phish Concerts,” which I believe is an entry I’ve already written), I would have preferred him to say what was really on his mind. That being: “Shut up, fag.” It was have been so much more refreshing.Back at David and Miranda’s, I scored about ninety minutes of sleep that was practically interrupted by the sound of my flight back to LA taxiing, but that’s what the glamorous 9AM on New Year’s Day flight entails. The alarm went off at 6AM in preparation for the 6:30 car that was on its way to pick me up in Park Slope and drive me to JFK. The one I had booked twenty-four hours earlier, much to the endless mockery of everyone I know. People were genuinely curious as to why I would call a car service that usually shows up within five minutes of the time the call was placed, to which I say…go to hell, all of you. And since David and Miranda live in an area of Brooklyn where cabs are not plentiful (this area is frequently referred to as “Brooklyn”), we keep around the phone numbers of a smattering of basically interchangeable car services, all of which charge about $30 to the airport and all of which maintain a ratty-ass fleet of old town cars that think they’re nice and aren’t. All I’m trying to say is that taking a car to the airport is a necessity and not a luxury, and it’s not like I was taking two subways and an Airtrain at 6AM on New Year’s Day. Fuck that noise.So, yeah. The car never showed up. 6:30. 6:45. Now it’s getting toward 7:00. Repeated calls to the company yielded endless ringing followed by a message telling me that this number is not accepting incoming calls. I tried two other places and was met with persistent busy signals. Finally, I ran with all of my luggage into the middle of Flatbush Avenue and ran into oncoming traffic, where a miraculously open cab asked me through his open window where I was going.Me: I need to go to Kennedy.Cab Driver: No.Me: Listen listen listen. My car service never showed up. It’s an emergency. My flight is…fuck. It’s soon.Cab Driver: Get in.I did. He didn’t start the meter.Cab Driver: How much are you going to give me for this.Me: The car service was charging me $33, but…Cab Driver: NO NO NO NO NO NO.Me: But I’ll…Cab Driver: Get out!Me: What are you talking about?Cab Driver: It’s a flat fee! It’s $45, PLUS TOLLS.Me: That’s from Manhattan. There are no tolls from here.Cab Driver: You know why your car never showed up? They’re making $100 in Manhattan right now! I don’t need this!And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “You were in a New York City taxicab, and the driver’s command of the language was really that good?” To which I respond: “Oh, my god. That is so racist.”Me: Please calm down. I’ll pay you whatever you want.Cab Driver: They’re making $100!Me: They’re extremely lucky.Cab Driver: I’ll run the meter!Me: Which is what you should do.The cost of the trip on the meter was $40, and I gave him the sum total of money in my wallet: $65. Let’s just call it the “Why I’m Still Alive” tax.The following morning, my cell phone rang at 3:15AM west coast time, and it was the car service confirming that my car would be arriving in fifteen minutes. I hadn’t been cancelled on without warning because the car service decided they could make more money elsewhere. I had merely been the victim of shitty service by a dispatcher who wrote down the wrong date of my pickup. Suck on it, cynical cab driver guy who now has all of my money.And finally, I was driving home from work yesterday in my nondescript car wearing my nondescript clothes, listening to NPR, when a car pulled up beside me, and the driver shouted into my window: “Hey, you fuckin’ weirdo. Stop being so fuckin’ weird.” Now, granted, there are plenty of times when I have all of the windows open and I’m spotted singing Linda Ronstadt’s “It’s So Easy” at the top of my lungs, but this happened to not be one of those times. Apparently, I was just a weirdo on my own quiet merits, which lends credence to the fact I seem to be arousing the ire of total strangers in 2006. This year has put a “kick me” sign on my back and turned all of human civilization into the locker room at my junior high school.It’s not too late. Let’s please just start this year over. In 10-9-8…Next up: the fifteen year-old boy and his dad who sat next to me on my New York to L.A. flight, who chatted me up about theater and television for an hour before segueing into talk of the current political climate. Excerpts from the fifteen year-old include: “We still need to find Osama to figure things out in Iraq” and, my personal favorite, “I’m pretty religious, so I don’t think they should be able to marry. It’s not that I mind them living together, though. I think I’m big enough to forgive the sin.”Happy New Year!