Soon it was just me and a couple other people playing around the pool. I went to the bathroom, and when I came back, the only person left was passed out in a lawn chair. I looked around in a panic, unable to recall where our rooms were. I thought for a few seconds about curling up in a chair next to my passed-out buddy, but suddenly had one desire: to get home!
Now, let me explain a couple of things here. I was extremely drunk, the temperature outside was in the teens at most, there was lots of snow, I had no jacket and was wearing topsiders with no socks, and my house was about eight to ten miles away by the roadways. But I knew a shortcut!
So off I went, stumbling my way home. I had to fight the wind that kept blowing my fabulous plastic stovepipe New Year's Eve hat off, fight the puddles and the occasional splashback, fight the heckling from oncoming traffic. I finally gave up on the hat after a gust blew it under a passing car. The journey continued for what seemed like hours until I reached my shortcut. It just so happened to be down a big, snowdrifted ravine, across a field, and through a complex that housed some of the county's vehicles. Since the snow was almost up to my knees, I ran as fast as I could down the ravine, through the field and toward the fenced-in complex, taking a couple of face-plants along the way. Halfway there, one of my shoes got stuck in the snow. Deciding it was too cold to stop and dig it out, I ran on. A few steps later, the other shoe was gone. So now I'm barefoot, running through the snow. I finally arrived at the fence and climbed the cold steel with my numb fingers and toes. Once over, I saw that the complex had been cleared of snow, but I realized there was no way I could make it home.
So I tried a couple of doors to complex buildings, but to no avail. I then spied a row of vehicles and headed toward a county truck. Amazingly, the door was unlocked, and, even more amazing, the keys were there! I hopped in, started it up and cranked the heat. My hands and feet began to get some feeling back. At that point I thought, "I can just drive home!" I drove the truck around the complex and found the exit. Unfortunately, it was gated and padlocked. I sat there for who knows how long, revving the engine and contemplating crashing the gate. But in my sobering, thawed-out state, I decided against crashing -- and trying to explain the county truck parked outside my house the next day. Instead, I opted to sleep in the warm truck for a few hours, to the wonderful tunes of AM radio.
I awoke to the sunlight. As anyone knows after a hard night of drinking, there are certain bodily functions that need to be taken care of. We're talking number two here, and it wasn't going to wait! I strategically angled myself out the truck door and let loose. To my good fortune, there happened to be half a roll of paper towels in the truck, which became quite useful! After that, I figured I had better begin the rest of my journey home.
I then realized, cursing myself, that my shoes were back in the snowdrifts, and there was no way I could walk the rest of the way on the frozen, gravel-covered streets. I searched around the truck, and the best thing I could find were two little hand towels. I wrapped my feet in the towels, somewhat moccasin style, and headed out. So on I went, through the snow and gravel, in my trusty moccasin towels, brushing off the occasional odd looks from the Sunday morning church crowd driving by.
I finally arrived home, feet aching, head pounding, but in one piece. I still have the moccasin towels as a souvenir and some great family photos of the morning after. And that was the worst New Year's Eve ever.
At least I was able to recover my shoes a couple of days later.