The year dies along with my inner hipster

Before I got with the program

It’s almost midnight in NYC and I’m watching the Times Square Countdown on Fox TV in a bar in downtown Burbank. Not what I’d planned. There was a cool speakeasy that I spotted on the Tangerine hotel site before they told me the manager had imposed a 2 night minimum. We needed one. This was a quick trip to Universal Studios as my birthday present. I wanted to see Harry Potter’s world and wasn’t going to Florida. Burbank it was.

However the Red Door speakeasy was locked when we arrived. Closed New Year’s Eve. We stopped at the Smokehouse where the bartender knew how to make a tasty Cosmo but it was nearly a two hour wait for dinner. The man behind me laughed when he heard. He was wearing a dress. Looked damn good in it too. The guys next to me glanced up but went back to talking about their friend who got fired from a TV pilot for attitude. The Warner Brothers studio was at the end of the block.

Good thing we didn’t valet. Twenty minutes later we’re upstairs in the Burbank Bar & Grill. My guy, ever resourceful, spotted it on Google Maps. The street was deserted but this place was packed. A group of Southern guys saved seats for their buddies & let me stand while we waited for a table. Now, fries, a salad & ribs are squeezed together in front of me. The Fox channel keeps taunting from a flat screen over a couple posing for selfies to send the kids. No wait, that’s us. Countdown to the balldrop.

I want to pose with a balloon but ribbons are dangling everywhere & one catches in my earring. They’re tied to poles overhead. The waitress materializes, dangling a huge pair of scissors. She whacks the ribbons away. The actual balloon bouquets are reserved for the DJ at the other end of the room. He spikes the music louder & we can’t have a conversation.

My date shows me that downtown Burbank has free WiFi. Given my mood that’s trouble if I decide to add a shot to my tonic water & bitters. I put down the phone.

Feeling snarky, I smear BBQ sauce across my chin. It’s hard to snarl when the meat is this good. There’s a side of slaw & damn if it isn’t perfection — slightly wilted with just enough dressing to make the shredded apple dance in my mouth. We smile at the couple next to us — happy & sparkling. For once I’m not dressed for the party & shrink a bit.

Opting for an early night, we pay & stand to go. The DJ cranks up Prince’s anthem to 1999. Shrugging, we find a spot between the vibrating balloon bouquet & a rotund mother with a boa in a lowcut sheath that she keeps adjusting. Egged on by her daughter in t- shirt & jeans, she climbs onstage. We shuffle to the beat next to a pair of spandax pros who grind each other & trade glances with the Southern boys. I just let go & shake like it’s 2018.

Elaine J. Masters found Harry Potter happily on New Years Day. She manages the blog, and writes for other publications.