There was a mermaid in a bath. She wasn’t doing anything. Just lying in the bath, occasionally flapping her tail. For three hours. I wanted to ask her how you get a job as a mermaid, but I wasn’t sure what the social etiquette is when it comes to seeking small talk from a stranger in a bath that is perched on a table. I left and found the chocolate display. It was behind the model wearing a steel-framed dress full of champagne flutes for anyone to take as they passed by. The DJ launched into a track that led the young ladies beside me to squeal with delight. Or maybe they were squealing at the sight of the handsome man all suited up with his Eastern Suburbs Roosters’ cricket tie. I rock that tie.
New Years Eve at the Bowery Hotel. How did I get there, you ask? Well that was entirely BB’s doing. Two of my friends from high school days, Messrs Beals and Logan, had been in touch with her to say they planned on flying into the Big Apple for a week and it all escalated from there.
My birthday was the day before, so we had already marked that momentous occasion with the greatest steak I’ve ever eaten on this planet courtesy of Del Frisco’s. A 45-day dry-aged New York strip weighing in at a mere 16oz – that’s closing in on a half kilo for those of us that prefer metrics. There was not going to be a doggy bag at our table. We put our steaks to bed (BB showed a bit more restraint going for a smaller filet mignon), and then sweated it back out during the night. Worth every bead.
I woke up in the morning of the last day of 2017 knowing I would not be needing to eat till lunch. So we took the kidlets out of the house and headed for the Met. It was cold out. How cold you ask? Try -7. At midday. With a gusty wind that made me question whether our savings would be better spent in Mexico. Hurricane informed us, quite rightly, that it was ‘too cold to be outside’. Chaos would no doubt have said the same if we could see her under all the layers. And yet thousands of people turned up to Times Square to watch a ball drop. Insanity.
BB organised my ticket to the New Year’s bash as a secret. Some friends of Messrs Beals and Logan had booked a VIP table that came with a price tag that easily explained the mermaid. Sadly that price tag and the difficulty of finding a babysitter meant BB was sending me out solo.
The level of excess involved in such a big city shindig is rather foreign to me. Prior to this the fanciest New Years I recall was the one when I wore a tie to a Lone Star and it got stained with BBQ sauce from the rack of ribs I ordered. It says a lot about me that classy once meant wearing a tie to a chain steakhouse in New Plymouth. New Years in my younger years generally involved beach campgrounds or crashing on a couch at someone’s bach.
I have matured obviously, so I was able to scrub up and fit in with all the money rolling around the Bowery. It helped that it was dark so no one could tell I was unable to do up the top button on my shirt. All that protein from the birthday steak had obviously engorged my neck muscles. Plus there was an anitpasto platter with some amazing prosciutto that wasn’t helping matters.
As you can imagine, the party was pretty extravagant. We had the best table in the house, right next to a roaring fire. The food and cocktails were excellent. The music pretty decent. And I ended up yarning to a range of different people, most of whom weren’t locals. They kicked us all out at 2am. We made the decision to walk the quarter mile to the apartment Beals was crashing at and discovered as we hit the pavement that the temperature had plummeted to an official mark of -15. I have not known cold like that ever. The bottle of sparkling water I had exited the hotel with was freezing in front of my eyes. Walking was not an option. We ran.
And so the fanciest New Years I will likely ever experience ended in the same way as so many before it – sharing a pull out couch with my mate’s feet in my face and mine in his. Some things will never change.