Friday, January 13, 2006

Holiday Vacation: New Year's Eve 2005-2006 - Pt. I

Let's see if I can keep this brief. *looks ahead* Apparently not.

A lot of the NYE (New Year's Eve) events in Atlanta seemed to be expensive or uninteresting. Maybe we checked the wrong online resources, though. We went to Smokey Bones, a restaurant with impressive ribs, among other things, and had a decent meal, but apparently our server got flustered (or just down-right pissed) when a couple people at our table disputed something from the bill. I didn't think they were right, but it had nothing to do with me. I stepped away. When I returned, my plate was gone. He'd taken everyone's plates away, but no one bothered to ask if I was actually finished eating. Yeah. I wasn't too pleased with that. They won't see me, again. They said they'd replace the sides, but couldn't give me half of a half-rack of ribs... and didn't offer a discount on the price (unfortunately, my girlfriend had already paid, but they could've offered a gift certificate or SOMEthing). Anyway, I was displeased with the entire experience and was sorry to start my NYE that way.

We finally decided to go downtown to hang out at Underground Atlanta for the Peach Drop (Atlanta's answer to New York's Apple Drop). We drove to the MARTA train station (Atlanta's answer to New York's subway system) because that's the fastest, cheapest, most practical way to attend a big open event like that. Besides, Underground is right across the street from Five Points Station. Despite how things worked out, I still dig Atlanta's transportation system. It's the best I've ever seen in any city I've visited or lived in.

I'll drop some photos in, later, but I'll just tell you about the three incidents of the evening.

We got downtown, saw a SEA of people, and decided to stay along the edge of the crowd, in case some craziness went down. We decided on a place to meet in case we end up separated and, after Poppa West reminded everyone to remember where we were (and to make smart, safe decisions), were on our way. Nice sights. Too many people, but still a fun atmosphere, for the most part. It was nowhere NEAR as cold as we expected, so *thumbs up*. We took some pictures near the Coca-Cola sign and Christmas tree, walked through an art shop, briefly watched the band do their thing (from BEHIND... no crowd there).

It wasn't the coolest thing ever, but it was kinda nice to be out. Y'see, I had conjunctivitis (sp?), better known as "pink eye," for most of the time we were in town. As a result, I wasn't TOO interested in being seen. My "pink eye" tends to be much worse than other people's. Luckily, the antibiotics I got, while being hard on my guts, kept my eye from going fully nuclear. Still, I walked around all night with sunglasses on. I'm sure people thought I was trying to look cool, but I was trying not to look like I belonged at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. If you don't know what that means, I'm just enough of a comic book snob not to tell you. Sorry.

Anyway, let's get to the nitty-gritty. Whenever I tell people about that evening, I tell them that we dodged violence, all night. In the end,... unsuccessfully. There were three main incidents. Here they are:

While walking through and around the crowds, we saw a couple of young women doing the best they could to kick the shit out of each other. Their friends seemed to be trying to hold them back. One of them kept trying to get back into the girl who was cursing her out, while saying, "It ain't that SErious. It ain't that SERIOUS." Apparently, it was serious enough for her to reach into the pocket of her lime green jacket and try to pull something out.

. . .

Ever seen that part of the movie, THE COLOR PURPLE, in which Oprah's character was about to kick the shit out of Ray Dawn Chong's character? They were in a "club," more or less, and when the piano player heard what RDC's character said to Oprah's character, he packed up his shit with the QUICKS, saying, "Time t'go!"

Damned straight. We got the HELL ON. I don't know what was in that woman's pocket and I don't NEED to know. I am NOT trying to die on a humbug. That's some stupid shit. Stray bullets or knives or whatever... you can HAVE that.

I'm proud to say we never saw the end of that particular scuffle and didn't get sucked into it.

We were waiting for the peach to drop, kinda standing around, feeling the cold set in a bit more (as I damn-near broke my hand patting myself on the back for buying my first and only scarf... because it was keeping my neck and face WARM, right about then). While we were waiting, an apparently homeless man stepped up and started staring at my girlfriend. HARD. That wasn't enough for him, though. He then stepped up, almost right NEXT TO ME, and stared directly at her. HARD.

In response, I stepped over, directly in front of him, and stared back. HARD. I didn't say shit.

I was pleased to see that he had enough sense to just back off and walk away. He DID reach out and touch her arm before he left, but he didn't hurt her and it was VERY brief, so I let it go.

Violence avoided. *whew*

. . .

Fast-forward to a few minutes after the peach dropped and we're walking away. I spent the ENTIRE TIME looking around to make sure no one was sneaking up on us and this guy STILL appeared out of nowhere. He apparently put his arm around one of the young ladies that were with us (just missing my girlfriend), but I didn't know that.

I turned around to see him CLOSE, but in no physical contact with anyone and I, again, got between them. The ladies stepped away and I was going to, as well, but this guy kept going back and forth between attempting to insult me and PLEADING with me to shake his hand.

He showed me his arm, which looked like it'd been severely burned a long time, ago. I guessed that this guy was a veteran, living on the street, not feeling like a man or even a human being, as people walked by him without acknowledging him the way he wanted to be acknowledged.

So, part of me felt for him and part of me wanted to knock him on his ass. It took EVERYTHING I had not to knock the shit out of this man, but I've got a personal policy I do my best to live by:

I respond to physical offenses, with physicality, but I only respond to verbal threats, verbally. This really put that to the test - especially since when I DID try to walk away, he'd walk alongside me, saying things about me "running away." That stung my pride and I let that shit hold me up, when I should've probably kept going.

Eventually, he bumped into some other guy and I used the distraction to walk, not run, away. I second-guessed that decision for a while, but was glad that I didn't have to kick the hell out of him.

To be continued...

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