Reluctantly leaving the Wonderous Grate of Seweriffic Goodness, Claire and I made our way back to the 'holding pen' where we had previously been standing. Standing in this pen, we had encountered a veritable menagerie of colourful characters. The two people I am most indebted to are the couple from Louisiana, who gave me their spare Dunkin Donuts-$10-admission-fee cup of coffee when I was damn near freezing to death. Sure, they asked me that inane question that every Sydneysider rolls their eyes at in exasperation, "Do y'all see many koala bears down there?". But they were so sweet and goofy, and I was so grateful for the hot coffee, that I became rather fond of them.
I've come to the conclusion that no-one living in Manhattan attends the Times Square New Year's celebrations. We met people from places as disparate as Japan, Washington D.C, New Zealand, Holland, France and...Brooklyn! The representative of that last location introduced himself as "Carlos from Brooklyn", as if he was expecting to be recognised by reputation.
We remained in our viewing spot for an hour or so until the biting cold once again became unbearable. Earlier on in the evening, I had used my last remaining $10 to purchase two pairs of gloves for our frozen hands. Well, I used them for my hands, but Claire put them on her feet, because the silly girl was only wearing those cut-off pantyhose socks. How she managed to walk with five extraneous glove fingers shoved into the toe of each shoe, I have no idea. Regardless of what extremities the gloves were supposed to be protecting, they were just not fulfilling their job description, and we began to complain bitterly once again. To make matters worse, the two bottles of soft drink I had recently consumed with reckless, regrettable abandon, were combining with the coffee, and beginning to exert excruciating pressure on my bladder. Um, so like, guys, where's the nearest public toilet? If you have ever visited Manhattan, you will be aware of the complete lack of restrooms on the entire island, even on regular, non-end-of-year-celebrating days. Thus, my vain hope to find a free restroom in the vicinity was, in short, absurdly laughable. It was at this point that I seriously considered going home. I had had it - I could barely walk without wincing due to my...er, bathroom needs, and I was almost certain that at least four of my fingers would require amputation because of frostbite.
It was at this time, a most crucial turning point for my sister and I, that the second miracle of the night happened (the first beign the Sewer Grate, of course). For in my hour of darkness, he was standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, "I have a ticket to get into Dunkin Donuts, I have a ticket to get into Dunkin Donuts". This anonymous, benevolent, saintly man, held the key to our salvation in his hand - a ripped, red "admit one" stub. Apparently, all we had to do was flash this baby at the Dunkin Donuts 'doorman' (!) and we would immediately receive the gifts of warmth and toilet facilities. TicketGuy, I never caught your name, but I think you were a friend of Carlos from Brooklyn. I can unequivocally say that you are my saviour, and possibly my guardian angel. Well, at least my patron Saint of uninary relief. The only catch was that the ticket, being 'admit one', only allowed one person to go in the store at a time. I went first, due to my very pressing need, while Claire retreated to the Sewer Grate for some much needed tootsie warming. After she had taken her turn in Dunkin Donuts, we rendez vous'd at the original viewing spot, joining our motley crew once again. By this time it was 11:30, and we had cheered up immeasureably.
The sight when the ball finally dropped was pretty spectacular. Multicoloured confetti rained down on us from all directions, swirling and spiraling in the wind on the way down (photos of which are to come shortly).
After midnight, we danced with each other and hugged random strangers. I was especially enamoured of the Japanese guy who hugged me and said "Merry Christmas, angels!", athough with his accent it sounded like "Merry Kurisumasu, ainjerus".
This story ought to be a bit longer and better written, but damn it, I'm late for work. Yes that's correct, I'm working the day after an ardous 21 hours of flying across the International Date Line. That flight constitutes another interesting story that I ought to write up soon, but for now, I'm off to (sleepily) sell people electronics stuff.
Thanks to everyone who wished me a safe journey back, it's good to be home.