Monday, January 6, 2014

A Tale of Two (Bipolar) Cities part 4

New Year's Eve in New York City. This is what we came for.

We had a plan well in advance for the big night: a dinner reservation at BLT steak and tickets for Webster Hall. As an avid fan of Hell's Kitchen and chef Gordon Ramsay, I could not wait to try BLT Steak where one of the winners was head chef. With such vocal standards, I knew that chef Ramsay's protege would not disappoint.

The food was divine. We had tuna tartare, filet mignon and asparagus on the side. All of it was perfection. The extras on the night included a wonderful pate with crackers and some thick, fluffy popovers with gruyere cheese. Being in NYC, I had to have the quintessential Cosmo pre-dinner drink and had a lovely red with my steak. Dessert was a scoop of banana ice cream and one-bite brownies dusted with powdered sugar and we both began to feel that same lovely glow that comes after a heavenly meal when we climbed into the cab to get to the club.

The night started out well. The DJ was good, people were dancing everywhere, and it was a good time. There were also a lot of men in the club and for the first time, I literally had to shoo them away with both hands. I got more male attention in one night than I did in all of 2013, so I can't say that was bad. The good news is that they were gentlemen about it- nobody got attitude about a refusal or asked me what my problem was, so people were cool. I didn't feel harassed and I was free to shake it up on the floor.

I'd heard a lot about Webster Hall and it was a pretty cool club. Multiple floors, DJs, good atmosphere. Among the highlights of the night: the midnight balloon drop, the fire breathers on stage who showed up in red lingerie and the girl on the floor dressed in bra, panties, hose, heels and a 2014 party tiara. She was saying that 'she couldn't decide'; by which, I think, she was referring to her dress choice of the night.

Then, the scary moment.

Midnight brought a huge crowd of revellers up to the floor, which was already well past capacity. The ensuing crowd got thick with people who were trying to shove their way inside. I was clinging on to my friend's hand, trying not to lose her, when the crowd crushed me in and literally moved me forward. I couldn't move at all in the hot mess of people and all sorts of scary thoughts entered my mind; I was going to get crushed; I was going to fall and get trampled; I was going to pass out from not being able to breathe. Pure panic set in and it was palpable. There were screams, it was dark and the crowd was packed so tight that I started to have trouble breathing myself.

Then, the weird moment.

While I was being crushed halfway to death, with my mental faculties shut down and re-focused entirely on the task of living through this ordeal, a guy just wrapped his arm around me, kissed me on the cheek, and wished me happy new year. He said something about how beautiful I was, something I barely registered, what with me being so concerned about living and all, and in the back of my mind, I couldn't help but be utterly shocked by this casual near-death encounter.

The whole ordeal probably lasted minutes, but when the crowd finally broke, it was around the stairwell, where security guards bellowed into loudspeakers for people to make their way down the stairs. I dashed down the stairs while the girl in front of me told me she lost her sister. I felt bad for her, but we had to keep moving, so we made our way to the ground floor and waited.

It was an agonizing wait. I could not imagine what I would do if I lost my best friend or if she had somehow gotten injured upstairs. I waited and waited, mentally willing her to come down the stairs and find me. Thankfully, she did, but after the initial relief of seeing each other in one piece, she told me that one piece really was missing: her purse. So we waited some more and she was anxious. Many purses and clutches had been lost in the crush, so a veritable boutique was piling up at the lost and found desk. Hers did show up, a little lighter for the cash that was inside. But it was there.

It might be superstition, but I really feel that if you cheat death once in the night, best not to tempt it again, so we left. Safe and whole, we soaked our feet in the bathtub at the hotel and talked about our experiences. Our night consisted of a great meal, some dancing, some male attention, a near death experience, petty theft and all in all, a pretty memorable New Year's Eve.

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