As New Year’s Eve approached, I began thinking about New Year’s Eves past. Some I remember, some I slept through, and some were bizarre. The craziest one I spent was in the early eighties.
NEW YEAR’S EVE SETTING THE SCENE
My mother died in 1978, and my father remarried a wonderful woman, S. They lived in Parkersburg, West Virginia. My girls and I went for Christmas, my best guess is in 1981. All I can remember is that they were small toddlers. Understand I am not a West Virginia native, and the only reason I ever went is because of my father. The metropolitan gulf coast has been my home for most of my life. Flat land, no snow, paved roads. You get the picture.
For New Year’s Eve, S. hired a babysitter, allowing the three of us to attend the festivities. Frankly, all I remember about the party is that I had dressed up, including fancy heels with straps. And it was positively cold. How cold, you ask? As my husband would say, colder than a well digger’s ass. No snow, but definitely below freezing.
We enjoyed the party and returned home well before midnight. S. and I took the sitter home while my dad watched after the sleeping children. We dropped the woman off at her place in the country…. In my mind, way in the remote woods of West Virginia.
Dig back into time. This is before the time of cell phones and emergency SOS calls from automobiles. …In the Dark Ages.
NEW YEAR’S EVE DEBACLE
S. decided to take a shortcut home. Naturally, the road was dirt and things were going fine until we hit a muddy patch… tires spun…. The car did not have four-wheel drive… the tires spun. S. tried driving forward and backward to no avail. Already, I was out of my league, having no idea how to free spinning tires. At that time, I can’t ever remember driving on a dirt road except in and out of Girl Scout camp in the summer. We jumped out of the car to see what we could do. As she was the expert driver, I was standing beside the back tire, trying to stuff wood into the hole to give the tire some traction, my heels sinking into the soft earth. I was fricking freezing!
As we worked feverishly, the noise of fireworks permeated the air. Panic seized us. We couldn’t call and knew my dad would be worried by this time. And no telling how long it would take to walk for help in our fanciest clothes.
Suddenly the area flooded with bright lights and a man pointing a rifle approached us. Terrified, I thought my life was over…. I am in a scene from Deliverance. They’ll never find our bodies…. My children will be motherless.
He demanded to know what we were doing. S. began explaining how we ended up there, evoking the name of the sitter. Me, stone still—mouth zipped. Opening it would expose that I was not from his neck of the woods. Eventually, he eased the rifle down, explaining he thought we were poachers. Thankfully, he helped pull the car out of the muck and we eventually made it home.
As you can imagine, my father was relieved. He had considered his options. Get in the car and look for us. But where? And what would he do with the babies?
THOUGHTS ON NEW YEAR’S EVE
These days, you’ll mostly find me in bed when the fireworks start. And that’s probably a good thing. I don’t need to get into any more trouble.
What’s the strangest New Year’s Eve you have had?