I can't strictly speaking say that I had a quiet New Years Eve, because New Years Eve in Hononlulu is never quiet. But it was quieter than I've ever known it before. Very few firecrackers being set off before December 31 and even then not too many before the legal starting time, 7 PM. After an eighty-year old woman was killed last year when aerial fireworks burned down her house, there was a sentiment that if fireworks were not going to be finally made illegal, at least there ought to be some effort to enforce the laws that actually do exist. (Aerial fireworks have always been illegal, but from my balcony on New Years Eve I can always see them going off all over. Very pretty.)
There are always injuries and fires every year, of course. I think that what bothered people about the eighty-year-old woman, aside from the fact that she died, was that she herself hadn't been involved in setting off fireworks at all, but was an innocent victim of her neighbors. They never identified the people who had set off the fireworks that caused the fire, of course. That neighborhood has always been notorious for the number of aerial fireworks, but when the police asked questions afterwards, everyone said, "Oh no, we weren't setting off any aerial fireworks. There were some going off down the street, but we don't know who ws setting them off." Whereas in fact, everybody in the neighborhood is always standing around watching the people who are setting off any big fireworks piece. My guess is that the whole neighborhood knows which family caused the fire, but nobody is talking.
This year anyway, there was only one major fire, but apparently that was arson. I think maybe the people who set the fire thought they could get away with blaming it on fireworks. And one man died after falling off the wall he was standing on to hang up a string of firecrackers. (In Honolulu, only the very littlest kids light off a single firecracker. One lights off several strings or, at best, a whole box at once.)
I went to Anna Bannana's, which was more than quiet. It used to be that New Years Eve was the one night of the year when you could count on seeing regulars who hadn't otherwise been in within recorded (or unrecorded) memory. But then various things happened. The old regulars got to be very old regulars --- we're talking about aging hippies here --- and the city started putting on a big First Night non-alcoholic celebration to discourage people from going out and drinking. And the police started setting up lots and lots of roadblocks to check the breaths of those drivers who had been out drinking anyway. (Of course, as always, I was on foot.)
So last night there were maybe, oh, a dozen customers in Anna's. That had apparently been expected, since this year they had only one bottle of cheap champaigne (well, it was Korbel, not as bad as usual, but only one bottle) to give to customers at midnight.
But I had a good time, since there was a woman at the bar who I see once in a while and whose name I don't think I've ever known, wearing very sexy clothes, and very little of them. Bare midriff extending, well, from the hip to the armpit, let's say. She was sitting on the other side of the bar from me, meaning --- well, I don't want to go into the geometry, but it meant we were facing each other and about three meters apart, I suppose. Not within reaching distance, but within talking distance sometimes, depending on how loud the song on the jukebox was.
She's one of those sexy chicks from hell. As played by Angelina Jolie in Girl Interrupted or more recently by, of all people, Cate Blanchett in Shipping News. In fact, come to think of it, Helena Bonham Carter took a whirl at this sort of role recently in Novocaine with Steve Martin. Although being a dangerous slut was quite a stretch for Helena Bonham Carter. (But she wasn't as naked in Novocaine as she'd been in Wings of the Dove.)
Anyway, even if you've never seen any of these movies, you probably know what I'm talking about. The sort of woman who could totally destroy a man's life in about three months. But I'm reaching the point where I'm starting to think that if I could be sure it would last for three months, it might be worth it.
Anyway, I don't really know her, don't know anything about her, don't even know her name. I'm not good at ages, but I suppose she must be in her late thirties. I see her in Anna's every three or four months and we usually start out the evening insulting each other for a while --- in the very nicest way, of course --- and then as she gets more and more drunk, I start telling her that I'm totally in love with her.
Actually, that's not fair. Last night, she wasn't drinking at all for quite a while. Because she was so loud, I thought that maybe they'd decided she was too drunk and cut her off, but the bartender was quite willing to let me buy her two beers. When I left, about an hour after midnight, she was putting her head on the bar and mostly almost going to sleep. I told her that if she'd like to come home with me, I'd put her to bed --- "That's my best offer" --- but she declined, saying something about birth control. I could have told her that I have condoms, not to mention a vasectomy, but that wasn't really the point.
But before that.... Long before that, when I first came in, when she saw me she came over to my side of the bar for a hug, and naturally I took advantage of that to cop a feel of her midriff, and when she seemed to enjoy that rather than otherwise, I copped a really good feel. It's always been one of my favorite parts of a woman's body, although breasts are always wonderful of course. But her breasts weren't bare. In fact, I could even see at moments that she was wearing a bra underneath her tank-top T-shirt.
"You're a very exciting woman," I said, "but..."
"Yes, I was waiting for that 'But,'" she said.
"I just wish that I was a more exciting man," I said.
"I wish that too," she said.
Well, those are the sorts of conversations we have.
She's one of those women who has learned to deal with men by constantly attacking them, and I've long since learned how to attack back, since that's the only way to make a woman like that smile. "Back off," she constantly kept saying to the men around her, and I said, "I'm already backed as far as I can get; my back is against the wall," which wasn't strictly speaking true --- but there were as I've said about ten feet, maybe even more, separating us. And then when sometimes I found a pretext to come over to her side of the bar and she said, "Back off," I started to move away and she grabbed me by the arm or by the jacket and pulled me back to her.
A good time was had by all. We kept going from one side of the bar to the other to tell each other all those things it is so nice to say when one is drunk and with someone attractive. (Well, she was attractive in any case, I can vouch for that! But actually, neither of us was really all that drunk.)
The guy she was really attracted to was sitting beside her though. A very sexy, very nice, very smooth (as we used to say when I was young) guy in his twenties who comes in a lot and is friends with all the bartenders. He was being nice to her within the accepted parameters but wasn't really interested. And then a guy with a bald head (but in his late twenties or early thirties) moved over to be next to her on the other side. He was very interested and they seemed to be having a good time --- she really liked his bald head --- but eventually something happened and he wasn't there any more. I suppose he'd made an offer and she'd declined. I already knew that she'd decline any offer I'd make, but, as I've said, I eventually did make one, because it seemed like the nice thing to do.
Other than that.... Leading my usual boring life. I've decided to learn a little Greek. Because.... Oh, I don't know. Because I realized that I could get the very brief Pimsleur introductory course, just eight half-hour lessons, from Amazon for only $14. And because --- some of you know this --- I actually have a B.A. in Ancient Greek, although I forgot everything I knew long ago. And there was a time when I could actually read Greek newspapers, very slowly and with much use of a dictionary.
Anyway, now it's like learning a completely new language. As I've told you before, the Pimsleur courses go very very slowly. I decided to count it up, and in these eight lessons one learns a total of nine verbs. Let's see if I can still remember what they are: to be, to understand, to speak, to know, to want, to eat, to drink, and to do. But the way I'm listing them is misleading, because you only learn two forms for each verb: first person and second person present tense. Except that you learn third person for to be ("is" and "are," which turn out to be the same word), and you learn the conditional form for to want (so as well as asking "Do you want to eat something?" you can ask "Would you like to eat something?"). I didn't count up the nouns, but I think there are less than nine: street, boulevard, restaurant, hotel. Those are the ones I remember. But quite a few pronouns.
Well, the brief course I have is really just a teaser for the full thirty-lesson course.
Addendum: Later on, I did go through the full thirty-lesson Pimsleur course and the Oxford Taking Off in Greek tapes, and when I went to Athens for three weeks I was occasionally able to make myself understood or to understand something somebody said.