Saturday, January 19, 2008

Your Royal Pragueness

I very often think back to my time spent and Prague and what it meant for me as a person and how I grew from it. Sometimes I check back on my old travel blog and read up on the life of a guy who was much cooler than I am. The following is a repost of my thoughts five days after New Year's Eve. It's just about the best writing I've ever done.

It's been almost a week since New Year's Eve. I guess I should post about it before the statute of limitations runs out on the interest anyone might have in it. Before I get to this New Year's, though, let me share a little about my general feelings about this holiday.

First of all, screw resolutions–I don't keep them; I don't care about them. And the older I get, the more inevitable it seems that I'll soon be calling them New Year's disillusions. I have no more pithy remarks to make about the subject. Shake the magic eight ball of good fortune and self-betterment if you like; maybe your outlook will turn up a little better than mine.

Allow me now to disrobe the garb of pessimism like a dog shakes off water after a bath.

New Year's Eve (NYE) in general has been a somewhat discouraging annual event for me. I generally spend the night screwing up the courage to kiss a girl at midnight only to find that the only thing that I've managed to screw up is the part where I actually kiss the girl at midnight. Now I'm aware that NYE is about far more than this. All I'm saying, though, is that it would be nice for this to happen at least once so I can have some holiday closure from years gone by of capre dream.

This isn't to say that NYE has always been a total loss. There have been a few good moments.

Exhibit A: NYE 97/98 This is definitely the best first half of NYE I've ever had. Griffin had a band which included a few of our friends, and they were playing at Tom Gathright's house. All of my friends (well, almost all–but we'll get to that) were there. The atmosphere was great, and we were having a blast. I was sitting on the floor actually enjoying the music and the company. The world was right and I was at peace. Then Donna Poston came over to me and sat on my knees (they were bent in the sitting position) and asked me to dance with her.

Now Donna was an amazing girl. I always felt bad for her, though. You see, she had a fraternal twin who was a lot hotter than she was. Don't get me wrong; Donna was a very pretty girl. She just had the misfortune of being constantly outshined by the looks of her twin sister, Stacy. Add to that a tall, beautiful girl who happened to be Donna's older sister, divide by three, and you get an unfortunate reamainder of a constant perception of mediocrity from the male species. That is unless you knew Donna–like I did–and were friends with her–like I was. So needles to say, I was simultaneously thrilled and distraught when she made a chair out of my legs and asked me to dole out heaping portions of white-boy dance moves on an ususpecting crowd of innocent bystanders. So I did what any other guy in my position would do when faced with the option of satisfying the whim of a pretty girl with a winning personality. That is to say that I did what any other idiot with no brain and even less balls would have done–I laughed and continued sitting.

You know, people have always been fascinated by the idea of a time machine. Human kind has spent ages imagining the good they could do for humanity were they only able to hop in a DeLorean, crank out 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, and then do something like give an art scholarship to a young Austrian painter aspiring to a turbulent political career or take the smallpox vaccine to 17th-century America. If I had a time machine, I'd drive back to Tom Gathright's house and use the 1.21 gigawatts to zap my ass for not getting up and dancing with Donna.

That was the beginning of the end for New Years for me. Consequently, the worst second half of NYE I've ever had happened that same night. You see, instead of sticking around and boogy woogyin' all night long, I escaped to my friend's house to play Magic the Gathering ™ as I had promised them. If I had two time machines, I'd drive to that guy's house and use the 1.21. gigawatts… well, you get the picture.

There have been other NYEs since then that have been decent and others that have sucked, but those two are the real extremes. This year in Prague, though, the annual celebration gained some points in the Gallup poll of my life.

There's not a lot to say about it other than it was simply an enjoyable, spectacular evening. Prague had been covered in snow for a week, but we nevertheless set off and warily ambled our way across the frozen streets, avoiding illegal firecrackers being hurled at passersby from the mitts of drunken tourists attired in holiday regalia, Spiderman costumes, and leather "outfits" reminiscent of the uniforms from the world's oldest profession. And being thus surrounded, we made our wintry waltz to the top of Letna Hill, from which we had a view of the entire city. We must have watched fireworks exploding for nearly an hour, the likes of which I've never seen before in my life. It was like watching every Fourth of July celebration I'd ever seen, strung back to back and mulitplied by 10. For fifty minutes, Prague was exploding. I've never been in a war before, but I can only guess that an air raid must have a bizarrly aesthetic appeal to it. It reminded me of Carwood Lipton's descriptions in Band of Brothers.

And so I stood, a man five-thousand miles from home, gazing out over a pyrotechnic panorama of Prague. I didn't kiss any girls, but what with the tear gas someone released and the two Czech girls offering me a massage (which I turned down), I'd say there was enough to make for what I'd say was the best overall NYE I've ever had.