I'm making an egg salad sandwich, good hang-over food. I'm often asked what people from Guam do for New Years. I often respond "We kill and eat the weaker ones." But my New Year's day is usually less provocative, it mostly involves removing lots of cat hair from my pea coat, getting rid of old clothes, and looking for missing gloves.
On Thursday, I helped Stephanie get the apartment ready for their annual New Year's Day party complete with champagne fountain — which means securing and child-proofing the apartment. We spent New Year's Eve at a friend's party but closed out Freddy's after leaving O'Connor's. I had to borrow a T-shirt from Dave, my clothes still smelled like the smoking section of the Narita airport circa 1975. We re-arranged the rooms and put the food in the oven, by 3:00 the usual suspects showed up and the cats went into hiding.
Some people brought beer, other's brought a dish, a few brought their children. Donna brought Sammy, he's grown quite a bit. Brad brought Magdalena, who loves magnets. Ross and Jen brought little Tim, who took a liking to the cat toys, especially the mouse. Our Brooklyn holiday traditions include making vegetarian versions of meat dishes, but this year we had more flavor added to our new year.
Virpi shared a Finnish tradition — Uudenvuodenaatto Suomi, predicting your future by casting tin. Over the stove she placed a miniature tin horseshoe into a ladle. I melted it until it completely liquefied and poured it into a bowl of cold water. As it cooled it took an irregular shape. With a keen eye and judicious interpretation, this glob of tin will predict events of my new year.
The shapes that were pulled from the water were fascinating. We all compared our results. They foretell good luck, good health, wealth, and happiness. But they also predict sorrow, misfortune and malady, especially if your tin casting breaks into smaller pieces. Stephanie's looked like crown... or a clown. I contemplated mine over a beer until I saw a team of cherubs dancing in a spiral. Later I thought it looked more like a cat rolling in wrapping paper. It's was 7:30 and the apartment was now packed to the walls. I moved the smoking section into Steph's room by the window.
Your Inner Hobo
We were running low on plastic cups so I came up with a game: Secret Hobo Cup. It's based on the "stripper name" game, except you use a child hood malady plus the name of your elementary school. For example, in the secret hobo world my name is Rubella St. Anthony. Josh's was Pox Pembroke, Megan's was Strep Throat Hayes, Matt's was Strep Throat Osgood...etc. You then write your secret hobo name on your cup with a Sharpee so you can identify it through the evening.
"Out of the way! Hot pot!" Deike brought out the Feuerzange, a German tradition. A cone of sugar is soaked in bourbon and lit. It sits on a long metal tong over a bowl of a hot mulled red wine. It's served immediately after the zucher hut has completely ge-melted. The blue flame was beautiful and the room smelled sweet with oranges and cloves. This is a great treat for the those stepping out of the 20° weather. If only cough syrup tasted this good.
By around 8:30 more straggler from the last party stumbled in. Dave's new Steinway Spinet proved to be a hit with everyone, he inherited it from his aunt Sorietta this year, along with a few other pieces of furniture. Even I got a chance to play a bit. Tabby requested Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" but after the first verse we realized no one really knew all the words. Not even the Canadians! But 12:30 seemed to come quickly and people bundled up to step out into the cold. After all Friday is just another working day.