Holidays

A Night Out

My worst New Year's Eve was in 1968, when I was 22 years old, a young, naive, trusting, believing, hopeful, fresh-from-the-country married mother of three little ones. Going out for New Year's Eve had never been possible for me. My spouse had never been home with us on that holiday. After many tears and threats, he promised this year would be different.

Unsure and unbelieving, I was so excited. It was a dream come true to be going out with the man I loved. It was going to be thrilling and wonderful, just like in the movies. Counting the days, with no money to buy a new outfit, going through my closet, I settled for my best: a beautiful, inappropriate, light pink, lacy summer dress from a few Easters back, with a pair of black spike high heels and my only jacket (truly not a winter coat). My spouse had promised me the night of my life, and I wanted to look perfect. I painted my nails, fixed my makeup, styled my hair just right and worked hard to look my best on this special night.

All ready, hoping to impress him, I waited breathlessly. He looked at me and said, "Aren't you going to wear makeup, or at least fix your hair?" Then he added, "Is that all you have to wear?" I was devastated. I nodded my head, shocked and speechless. "Oh, well," he said. "Let's go and try to have a good time, anyway."

We were going to his single cousin's party. We started out in the dark and, not having a car, walked six blocks and caught a city bus across town to the west side. My feet were hurting already.

Then we got to the party. Yay! We were ushered inside, where several beautiful young girls were standing around with drinks in their hands. Music was playing on the stereo, a couple was dancing, the room was dimly lit. I sat on the sofa with my jacket on. No one asked for it, and I was shy and unsure, knowing no one but my spouse and his cousin, with no introduction to anyone (of course, my spouse knew everyone). A drink was shoved into my hand, and my spouse and his cousin said, "Come on, drink up, don't be a party pooper, it will relax you." I took a sip or two.

I woke up several hours later, not understanding that they must have slipped something into my drink. With my jacket still on, still sitting on the couch, I awoke all alone in a very quiet apartment. Frightened, I called out my spouse's name. No answer. I felt groggy, got up slowly and walked around the apartment looking for somebody, anybody. Empty! There was no more party. No food, no music. No one was around. Not sure where everyone went, not knowing what to do, I thanked God my mother always made sure I had a dime for a phone call or bus money in case of an emergency. Having no one to call, I retraced my steps back to the bus stop. I was cold, frightened and confused, in a strange part of town. Dogs were barking. I was trying to walk quietly, unable to take off my spike heels because the sidewalk was too cold and snowy. I was hoping and praying the bus was still running, not even knowing what time it might arrive.

I was still trying to figure out what had happened. Where was my spouse? Feeling betrayed, I made my way home. Mom had my children for the night, and my apartment was cold, dark and empty. It was not yet midnight. I was crying my eyes out. When the New Year rang in, I was all alone again.