I’ve never kissed anyone at New Year’s. Never. In the whole history of the universe, in all the New Year’s Eves that have happened, I’ve never locked lips with another person at the stroke of midnight.
I did, it MUST be said, once kiss a girl on Chinese New Year, but at the time neither of us were Chinese, so it was just a coincidence. For us it was just another evening in early February. We’re still both not Chinese, to be clear. Well, actually, I can only really speak for myself – who knows what she’s doing these days or what nationality she’s identifying as? Certainly not old Eric “blocked on every social media platform” Rushton.
Okay, there’s gonna be enough sadness in this blog without me opening up old wounds as well.
Apparently if you don’t kiss someone at the midnight on New Year’s Eve then it guarantees a year of loneliness. I don’t know if it’s true, but my New Year’s failures and 23 years of consecutive loneliness on this Earth aren’t doing a lot to disprove that theory.
Truth be told, I have had a few brief feelings of not being lonely in my 23 years. And I have kissed a few girls, so I probably shouldn’t moan. But moaning is my thing; it’s what I’m good at; it’s what I was gifted at birth. You can’t help what your talent is: Cristiano Ronaldo was given the ability to strike a free-kick into the back of the net from 40-yards out, causing a stadium full of fans to erupt into ecstasy; I was given the ability to awkwardly express my insecurities in a monotonous and often self-indulgent manner, causing a dozen people in the backroom of a small midlands’ pub to politely titter. We’ve both just gotta work with what we’ve got.
My first smooch came at the tender age of 17, and it was so far away from New Year’s Eve that it might as well have been in April, which it was, at a house party. I’d like to say it was romantic as well. I’d like to say it was the happy ending to a drawn out teenage romance, where the conventionally attractive and highly popular girl I was infatuated with looked past my awkwardness and spotty face and decided she was in love with me too. Proper Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus vibes. But the reality was so far away from that fantasy that it might as well have been a dare, which it was. I can’t remember the details exactly, but I just remember it was arranged in some way that me and this girl would kiss and then it happened. Needless to say (but necessary to write), I felt nothing.
My best kiss came when I had a girlfriend. And luckily, the kiss was with her. It was our second date and we’d spent the day getting coffees and walking around Birmingham in heatwave weather. England had been knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia the night before – the worst thing to happen to me since the last time England had been knocked out – but instead of mourning that loss, I was having a great time with this girl, really connecting. At the end of the date I asked her if I could kiss her and she said yes which was well good and then that was that. In the evening, I had a spot at the Glee club, and that went really well too. I remember feeling like a person with a life. A hot piece of ass that kisses girls and kills it in front of hundreds of people.
Between that valley of emptiness and that high-peak of connection, there’s been varying kisses at various contours of this mountain metaphor that I’m beginning to regret constructing. Most have been closer to the bottom though, unfortunately (not my bottom lol). And like I said, none at New Year’s.
But maybe it was about to change? This New Year’s Eve I was invited to my friend’s house party in Birmingham. I was told there would be people with lips there, and that maybe if I played my cards right I could go into the new year at high altitude (the mountain metaphor thing).
The party was due to start at nine. So I wouldn’t come across as a square, I turned up a little late, at three minutes past nine.
My friend’s girlfriend answered the door and it turned out I was a square because the only people there were her and her housemate. I walked in and apologised for being a nerd. I said, “I’m sorry I’m such a nerd.” They laughed, but probably out of awkwardness rather than appreciation for self-deprecation. I thought about following up my self-deprecation with some sort of pun about how “the early nerd catches the worm” but I couldn’t figure out how to not make it creepy, and also I don’t think they were vibing with me enough comedically for them to give me the benefit of the doubt. You’ve got to read the room.
While I was waiting for everyone else to turn up, I sat down and cracked open one of the Strongbow Darkfruits that I’d brought in ordered to get buzzed. I must’ve been shaking like a nervous little leaf on the way because when I opened the can it fizzed up and went all over the floor.
“Erm… excuse me,” I said, calling into the kitchen. “I’m gonna need a towel in here.”
The tension was palpable.
Shortly after the Strongbow incident, a big group of the others arrived. It turned out as well as not being fashionably late, I also wasn’t fashionable. Everyone was dressed up. I got a text earlier in the day about the theme, but by then it was too late to do anything about it and for some reason I assumed that people wouldn’t make any effort, forgetting that they weren’t me.
It was pretty bad. I stood out like a sore thumb, or more precisely, like an Adidas jacket in a room full of Peaky Blinders flat caps. To fit in, I decided to bring 1920’s views of race and gender instead, but for some reason that didn’t go down well either. Another classic Rushton comedy faux pas.
I spent the night trying to mingle, like someone who’s single at a party probably should. I had a few good conversations, but mainly boring ones. I spoke with a girl for a while and she was telling me about how she’s into writing poetry. I got excited and told her that I was a writer too. She said, “What do you write?” And I said, “Mainly blogs that jeopardise my real-life interactions by turning them into material, eventually eroding any level of trust another person can place in me.” She said, “Cool.” Shortly afterwards she went to find her boyfriend, who unfortunately existed.
All the while, 2019 was ebbing away and 2020 was getting ever closer. Midnight felt like a black hole that was sucking me in. I wanted someone to grab onto and come with me. Not in a weird way, obviously. I mean emotionally grab onto rather than physically – the much more acceptable form of grabbing. But also there was the midnight kiss thing. I was pretty sure that wasn’t gonna happen. I stopped trying to mingle and sat on the sofa, eating pringles, listening to jingles, realising I had shingles. Nah, just the pringles thing. Rhyming is funny though.
What is it about pushing your lips against someone else’s that means anything anyway? I thought to myself (not yet having developed the ability to think to other people). It doesn’t mean they get you. No one can get you. Not completely. Someone can get bits of you, but never the whole thing. It’s all just bullshit.
“It’s all just bullshit, isn’t it?”
This came from a girl sat next to me on the sofa. Maybe I can think to other people.
“What? New Year’s?” I said.
“Yeah,” she said. “I hate this period. It’s so forced.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I said.
She smiled. Then her friend came over and started talking to her. She stood up and went into the kitchen. I sat there and thought for a while, tired of socialising. It must’ve been about half eleven at this point.
At least there’s one other person here that thinks it’s bullshit, I thought, to whoever was listening telepathically. I considered trying to talk to the “it’s all just bullshit” girl, but she was dancing now. And anyway, wouldn’t that just be giving into the bullshit even more? The bullshit of the New Year representing something. The bullshit of my happiness being tied to romantic love. The bullshit of thinking that just because someone else has the same bullshit-radar as me then they might be my soulmate.
It was about five minutes to midnight. The countdown was looming. People were filtering into the living room. I decided I didn’t want to be a part of it; I didn’t wanna see people snogging and pretending they had connection in their lives.
I walked into the hallway, to be alone. Along the wall, there was a mirror. I looked into it, and as is generally the case with mirrors, I saw my reflection. I looked at myself and realised that there is someone I’m connected with, and that’s me. I don’t need anyone else to get me, because I get myself, and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather see in the new year with.
The countdown began in the other room.
“Ten! Nine! Eight!”
I looked into my own eyes, began to get lost in them…
“Seven! Six! Five!”
…I leant into the glass….
“Four! Three! Two!”
…pushed my head forward and…
A hand touched my shoulder. The “it’s all bullshit” girl had joined me in the mirror.
“Happy bullshit New Year,” she said, looking at me in the reflection.
“Oh, hi,” I said, looking over at her non-reflection. “You too.”
Anyway, that’s about it.
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