New Year's Eve Guide 2010

When the clock struck twelve, did you strike out? No matter how disappointing your worst New Year's Eve may have been, the winners of our My Worst New Year's Eve essay contest have you beat. Read their stories below — then see our comprehensive, up-to-date event listings for dozens of suggestions that will guarantee a good time for New Year's Eve 2010.

******

I had to work until 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve, and when I went to catch the bus, a car making a right-hand turn at the light hit me. It wasn't a hard hit, but enough to knock me to the ground. Still, I saw the bus coming and remembered that it only came once an hour, so I told the driver of the car to forget it and ran for the bus, limping all the way. The bus ignored me and passed by. As I sat there for an hour, my on-again/off-again boyfriend called and told me we should chill later that night. I already had plans with a girlfriend, but I was so happy he had invited me out that I immediately canceled them.

I finally got home at about 10:30. I got ready quickly and called my boy. He didn't answer. I called again and again and got his answering machine. My friend had already left for her night out and didn't answer the phone, either. I went up to my neighbors' house, and they told me they had plans and gave me a bottle of cheap whiskey. I drank almost the whole bottle, waiting and crying. As the clock struck twelve, I was alone and in pain.

At 1 a.m., my boy called me, making some excuse and being very rude. As if the night wasn't bad enough, I could hear a woman's voice in the background making flirty comments and calling his name. The next morning I woke up mega-hung over with my eyes swollen shut.

It was the worst. — Anika

******

New Year's Eve 2006 began insignificantly. I went to the gym, I showered, and I put on brand-new jeans that I got for Christmas.

It was 2 p.m. when I started to get a migraine headache. This was the kind of headache that pounds inside of your skull and can't be contained with medicine.

I attempted to nap. I rolled around in agony for hours, cursing the universe.

At around 5 p.m., the roommates barged in and announced that they were going out for Mexican food and that they had invited our hot neighbor. Hot Neighbor looked like a character from Dawson's Creek; I could picture myself climbing into his window every night and being sweetly serenaded by a '90s soundtrack.

Determined not to let sickness dash my romantic vision, I changed into a dress and heels. I staggered outside, half-blind with headache. My roommates began to question my health.

"Are you sure you're okay?" asked Zak, the sensitive roommate. "Your head feels warm. I think you have a fever. And you're, like, really pale right now."

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Don't ruin my chances with Hot Neighbor...and his James VanDerBeek hair," I whispered, since attempting to make sound was searing agony in my brain.

At the restaurant, I cursed my determination as I ate a cheese quesadilla and queasily waited while the gang drank margaritas. I convinced myself that this headache must be the result of a brain tumor. Hot Neighbor made jokes, and I saw him checking out my legs. I got lost in his dreamy smile until I realized I was just sitting there staring at him with glassy eyes and a small string of spittle hanging from my lip.

By the time we left, I was deep in the recesses of the migraine abyss. My roommates got me home.

When they grabbed my legs to attempt to stuff me into pajama bottoms, they saw an enormous purple spot covering my entire thigh. So that's what Hot Neighbor had been looking at. It looked like a bruise with thin veins running through it but didn't hurt. I peered down and pathetically whimpered in fear.

Like many people, I am a borderline hypochondriac. I had already assumed that a brain tumor was causing my headache, but now a mystery bruise meant death was certain.

"Blood clot! Brain tumor! I have a blood clot!" I yelled, feverishly weeping because I knew the Grim Reaper would soon be upon me. My roommates had already finished two bottles of champagne with Hot Neighbor, so my panic didn't faze them.

"Let's put her to bed. She'll be fine," said Zak, as he grabbed me and placed me on the bed.

"Nooo, don't leave me! Blood clot!" I wailed as they turned off the light. My head throbbed in the dark, and my stomach began to turn with thoughts of my impending doom.

Suddenly, my stomach was in knots. I crawled to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. But instead of my body doing what I expected it to do, my stomach convulsed and I found myself leaning over and vomiting into the shower.

Then I passed out. I fell off the toilet and awoke in a puddle of my own barf with my pants down. Hot Neighbor and my roommates were staring at me from the doorway. They had heard my retching and decided to check on me.

They finally decided that I might be dying.

It was 10 p.m. when they realized that everyone except me was too drunk to drive, so I had to semi-consciously drive myself to the E.R., with Hot Neighbor holding a bucket next to me in case I puked again.

The emergency room on New Year's Eve is always nightmarishly full. I was in triage behind a stabbing victim, two car-crash victims and a frat boy who needed to get his stomach pumped. I was last on the list.

I sat in the E.R. convinced that death was imminent. The clock struck midnight. "Sometimes I think of climbing in your window," I muttered deliriously to Hot Neighbor, who inched away from me and eventually took a cab home.

When the doctors finally saw me, they gave me an Ativan so I would shut up and, inexplicably, a Percocet for the headache. They surrounded me and prodded my leg.

No one knew what it was. Nurses, doctors, dermatologists and surgeons all passed through my curtained chamber as I cried, in spite of heavy sedation, "Am I dying? I'm dying!"

When they determined that I didn't have a brain tumor or a blood clot, they sent me home at 4 a.m. They told me to follow up at a clinic the next day.

I woke up on New Year's Day feeling like a goddess. Birds sang, the sun shined, death hadn't claimed me overnight: It was amazing. I trotted down to the urgent-care clinic.

A nurse took me to the back room. She examined my leg. She smiled.

"Honey, have you been wearing new jeans?" she asked.

"Uh, yeah, why?"

She pulled out an alcohol wipe and wiped my thigh. A streak cut through the huge purple patch. She began to scrub, and it all began to disappear.

"It's just blue dye. You're pale, so it made your skin look purple. We get this at least two times a week," she said. "The rest of your symptoms were probably just migraine-related."

The magical nurse reaffirmed that I was not dying. I skipped home.

My joy ended a few days later when I discovered that Hot Neighbor put bars on his window and blocked my calls. Goodbye, Dawson's Creek; hello, Fatal Attraction. — Kait McNamee

******

I woke up on New Year's Day 2002 at about 9:30 in the morning in Richmond, Virginia. I was pissed because it was cold, and no matter how I moved, I couldn't get comfortable enough to fall back asleep. I pulled my arms back into my jacket and rested my head between my knees and then realized: "Why the hell am I outside?"

With the help of the building I was sleeping against, I stood up and made my way across the parking lot to the twelve-foot wall surrounding it to look for a way out. My arms, legs and ribs were bruised, but I still had my glasses, wallet with $20 and Palm Pilot. (Yes, Palm Pilot. Shut up — it was 2002.) I traced the wall and climbed over the entrance gate at the abandoned security station, where I learned I was at the Ethyl Corporation, then walked thirteen blocks back to my car to take a fuzzy ride home.

After a grand nap and extensive telephone campaign, all I had to go on was "I don't know, dude, you disappeared."

The night before, I had been at a New Year's party, at a bar, with my best friend and his girlfriend. He was working, and I got his drink tickets. After a while, I went to another bar down the street and was never heard from again — sort of.

A day or so later, my best friend's girlfriend broke it down for me, because my friend apparently didn't have the heart to tell me what happened. I had returned to the first party, rather shitfaced, and tried to help out my friend, who was working. I was up in party-goers' faces, causing problems for my (sober) friend, who was already busy with his girlfriend. She was piss-drunk, too. He sat us down behind him, where we proceeded to make out with each other. Some time during all of this, another wasted young woman accused me of grabbing her boob, and I was ejected. My friend, being the best friend that he was, told the bouncer that was impossible because I had been with him all night, and brought me back in. I may never know how big of an a-hole I was, but my friend was rock-solid enough to peel me off his girlfriend and babysit me until the party was over.

He was loading up his stuff, and I was just in the way. My friend hailed a cab, put me in, gave the driver my address and enough for fare and tip, and sent me off for home. The cab driver came back to him ten minutes later and told him I had jumped out of the cab four blocks up.

When you have a hard drinking night and you totally black out, you typically have a shadow or two of memories from the night before. Not in this case. Not even after people who I saw told me about some of the things that I forgot did I have a single recollection. — Rick Ramos

******

I had been living in small-town Colorado for a decade and was really looking forward to a night out in New York. My dear friend Debbie, also a native New Yorker, was lined up as my partner in crime for the evening and had a roster of parties for us to visit. I spent the afternoon shopping for new clothes and had a quick snack before heading out for a run through Central Park.

While I was running, I started feeling strange. My eyes began to water and I sneezed. Then I sneezed again, and soon I was in a sneezing fit that wouldn't stop. My eyes and face began to swell, and I broke out in hives. By the time I got back to my mother's apartment, I was in full-fledged anaphylactic shock. Later, I would realize that the energy bar I ate to power my run contained almonds and hazelnuts. I've been allergic to nuts all my life but had never had such a severe reaction. My entire body was covered in hives, and my eyes were swollen nearly shut.

I peeked in the mirror. I looked like the Incredible Hulk on acid. It was an impossible situation, and I could barely speak since my throat was so swollen. In between mad scratching fits, I called Debbie and, through my tears, explained that I had to stay home for the night.

So, there I was, curled up on the couch, drugged up on massive doses of Benadryl and trying not to crawl out of my skin. I watched the ball drop on TV and walked out onto the ninth-floor balcony to watch drunken revelers celebrate below. Clad only in pajamas and slippers with a blanket around my shoulders, I discovered that not only was it freezing, but the drizzle from earlier had become a downpour. As I reached for the blanket to better cover me, I momentarily lost hold of the glass balcony door and watched...It...Slowly...Close...And...Lock...Behind...Me. No way. No fucking way.

I was trapped on a tiny balcony in the rain, scantily clad, with a face like the elephant man, at 12:30 a.m. on New Year's in Manhattan. The city was electric and far too loud for anyone to hear me yell for help. And what was I going to say, anyway? HEY! UP HERE! NO, I DON'T USUALLY LOOK LIKE THIS. IT'S OKAY, I SWEAR! GET A TALL LADDER!

There was only one option: With the feeble strength I could muster in my weakened state, I threw the only piece of furniture I had at my disposal through the glass doors. The chair broke, and shattered glass rained on the balcony and into the living room, giving the inclement weather open access to my mother's formerly beautiful furniture.

That's when I knew I was having the worst New Year's Eve in history. — Lisa Dale

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