There are many things I love about my roommate, but what I admire most is her menschness. She is far more feminine than me-she enjoys pedicures, wears mini skirts and make up- but she also opens beer bottles on counter tops without ever breaking the glass. When she burps it registers on the Richter scale. She will clean clumps wet hair out of the shower drain without flinching, while I gag at the mere thought. And, when she gets doused with burning hot tikki lamp oil, she doesn't scream. In fact, when I turn around, she is merely holding her bare arm out in front of her and quietly stating, "It burns."
I put my complimentary cocktail-filled coconut back on the table and stand helplessly beside her while the hotel staff round up wet towels and ice cubes. They offer to serve us dinner in our room but that seems to be as far as they'll go by way of compensation. Stacy though, is a mensch and wants to eat the compulsory New Year's Eve dinner with the rest of the hotel guests, so, Adik and I bring her a plate with everything from the buffet which consists of steak, lobster, chicken, potatoes, salads, rice and fruit.
We have to pay for wine and Adik begins her protest, "Please, don't drink tonight." Having already explained that bule New Year's Eve involves alcohol I ignore her. The food is delicious and, while the entertainment is mediocre and somewhat off key, the fireworks shot up every second on every street corner are fantastic.
After dinner the "sexy dancers" show up. They pivot and bump and grind their way to the table next to us where they proceed to give a ten year old boy a lap dance. We take that as our cue to leave before I have to poke out my eyes.
At the front desk we try and procure some gauze and tape. If we're going out, Stacy needs to ditch the towels, but the staff don't seem to know what we mean by medical gauze. They tell us we will have to go to the pharmacy but, just as we're about to leave, a first aid kit is produced so we go up to the room where Adik wraps Stacy's arm like a mummy. Not the most auspicious way to celebrate a New Year but, as Stacy optimistically points out, "At least it happened at the end of the old year and not first thing in the new."
We stumble out into the street to join the throngs of celebrant tourists blowing noise makers and carefully avoiding the firecrackers being lit in every door and alleyway. "Please," Adik begs again, "don't drink tonight. Please."
"Adik," I say evenly, "It's New Year's Eve. With the exception of one year when I was ridiculously sick, I have never not drank on New Year's Eve. Why are you trying to ruin the tradition?"
"Because I will be alone," she wails.
"Um, Adik. I think it will be pretty hard to be alone tonight."
And it is. We find a bar with a decent cover band and pull up a seat to watch the audacity of the dance floor.
"I love New Year's Eve," I say. "It's a carnival."
And it is. We watch people in masks bumping and gyrating under the heaving lights. People wearing blinking devil's horns raising toasts and slamming down empty glasses. Half naked people making out in darkened corners and seniors slipping on the rain soaked dance floor.
An hour before midnight the band takes a break and a bar tender comes out to put on a show a la Tom Cruise circa "Cocktail." The bottles fly and seem to suspend in the air as he juggles glasses and pours a line of drinks. By the time he starts lighting things on fire for the finale the enthusiastic crowd is drowning out the thumping bass that's shaking the floor.
After we toast in the New Year Stacy wants to go next door to visit her bartender friend but when we get there the place is dark and deserted save for a few drag queens and midgets grinding on the stage. I head back to where the drinks are flowing and the people are lively.
I make friends with some middle aged Australians who make up a drinking game involving me naming an Australian band for every Canadian band they name. I am not very good at this game. By the time Adik and Stacy return to tell me they're going to the beach to light fireworks, I am drunk.
"I think," I slur, "I'm going to stay here."
But, shortly after they leave, the Australians decide we should all go to Kuta beach.
Kuta, on New Year's Eve, is probably the closest I will ever get to Mardi Gras. The crowd are not people but a pulsating wall of human flesh. I am possibly the only person there wearing clothes. Inside the club, the stage is crowded with naked strangers undulating under strobe lights, grasping and holding on to each other knowing if they let go they will drown in the sea of bodies below them.
I am quickly separated from my drinking buddies, and with sweaty bodies pressing against me from all sides I feel acutely alone. Two more Australians swoop in to fill the void and I decide, at this point, I haven't much choice. I smile, lift my drink and shout out a toast before giving myself over to the vibrating night.
Light on the eve of the election
2 years ago