Eleven PM on December 31st found me and Paul, our hosts, Kely and Arthur, and two of their friends straining to keep our eyes open as the seven kids in the house ricocheted off the walls in their ultimately successful quest to stay up until midnight. We’d had a couple of glasses of wine each–nothing that could qualify as a raucous night of debauchery. We sat on the sofa, the breaks in the conversation growing longer and longer as our windows of alertness began to close for the year.
Finally, I excused myself to go to sleep, leaving Paul to put our six-year-olds to bed, which he did at 1:15. I felt guilty, which I remember feeling on many a New Year’s past. Only this time it was not because I kissed the wrong guy at midnight or failed to make it to one of the several fabulous parties to which I was invited. No, I felt guilty for forcing Paul to stay up to somehow calm our two sugar-hyped children enough to make them go to bed, when I knew he would prefer to go to sleep himself.
On the drive out to Kely and Arthur’s on Long Island earlier that day, that Gin Blossoms song “Hey, Jealousy”, came on my iPod. After the usual back and forth about how it didn’t seem that long ago when that song came out (it was 1992) we listened to the lyrics. “Tell me do you think it’d be alright/if I just crashed here tonight/As you see I’m in no shape for drivin’/And anyway I’ve got no place to go.”
“Wow, that’s something that you stop doing after a certain point,” I remarked.
“What, drive around this town, let the cops chase you around?” asked Paul.
“Well, yeah, that too. But I meant ‘crashing’. People our age don’t ‘crash.'” I elaborated: We may stay over, we may spend the weekend, and if you’re really rich, you might even use the word weekend as a verb, as in, “We weekend on the Vineyard.” But you don’t crash. Paul pointed out that he’d crashed at a friend’s in DC when he went to watch Obama’s inaugural. I disagreed; he’d arranged to stay there in advance, which means even if he did sleep on a couch, it didn’t qualify as a crash. (Yes, this is actually what we talk about. I’m not in anyone else’s marriage so maybe it’s weird. I wouldn’t know.)
Anyway, crashing, if you recall, is a spur-of-the-moment occurrence, the end to a night careening out of control with little or no forethought to where you might lie down once your body tired of being awake. Crashing is, “Dude, I’m downstairs, can I come up and crash?” Or it’s, “I crashed at his place last night and had to do the walk of shame home before dawn to change for work.”
Crashing is most certainly not, “I’m loading everything my children might ever want to wear into the car, plus their special organic mac and cheese that my friends may not have at their house and enough arts and crafts supplies to keep them occupied if it rains, not to mention my night cream because if I miss it for even one night I look like a hag. Oh, and my cell phone charger, because god forbid I’m out of touch with the office for even six hours.” It’s also not texting your friend half a dozen times on the way up to see what she needs from the grocery, and when she says she needs nothing, stopping and buying her something she doesn’t need so as not to be rude. (Remember picking up a six and knowing you’d be well received no matter the brand?). It’s totally not holding out until your favorite gas station so you could save a dime a gallon.
In roughly 1992, I met a guy I met at a party who traveled with his toothbrush in his pocket, because he expected to crash somewhere other than in his own bed; planning to crash would seem to be not quite spontaneous enough to be a crash in the true sense of the word, but then again, he had no idea where he’d wind up. He was a spontaneous guy who cared very much about his oral hygiene. I had to respect that. He crashed at my place that night.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad that I don’t “crash” places anymore. I’d be thrilled to never sleep on a lumpy, beer-soaked futon again. I could live a good long time without having to make awkward small talk outside the bathroom with someone’s shirtless roommate that I’m meeting for the first time at 7 AM. I actually like knowing that if I slept at any friends’ house these days, even if it was without much notice, that I’d likely have a clean pillowcase on which to rest my head.
I just would really like to be able to make it to midnight once a year. If I’m jealous of anything (and I suppose I am), it’s that.