"You live in New York City? Are you going to Times Square for New Year's Eve?"
This is probably the number one question asked by non-NYC folk to NYC'ers this time of year. By the time the speaker hits the "T" in "Times," you can already see a Manhattanite squirm. In fact, the whole exchange takes on a Matrix-style slo-mo effect: the speaker's mouth moves as if it were stuck together with peanut butter, the voice becomes electronically distorted, and the sound waves become visible as they hit the recipient, who alternately switches from discomfort to horror to politely-masked disdain.
Why would a simple little question make one panic? Because there's no way any self-respecting New Yorker (or New York transplant) would ever set a pinky toe inside Times Square for New Year's Eve. I hate to be blunt, but thar she blows. Even the mere mention of such an idea throws a New Yorker into a complete frenzy, as if someone yelled, "BED BUGS!" in a crowded theater. I understand that people from various other regions of the country might think that a Times Square New Year's Eve celebration would be an entertaining way to spend the evening. After all, Ryan Seacrest makes the two-second clips you see of partygoers on TV look exciting. But here are the reasons New Yorkers treat Times Square like a quarantined area:
1. New Yorkers pride themselves on individuality. Following a crowd of a million idiots is not an option.
2. Once you have been on an overheated, overly packed subway car at rush hour that has come to a complete halt in a tunnel, you never want to be in a small area with wall-to-wall people ever again.
3. Not being able to go to the bathroom for seven hours seems like a miserable way to usher in a new year.
4. Unless you get there at 3pm, you probably won't be able to see the ball drop. Instead, you'll have to crane your neck for a view of a telecast screen, which you could see much more comfortably from your living room recliner.
5. No booze allowed.
6. Spectators are herded and corralled like cattle being led to slaughter.
7. When you combine amount of people trying to override the no-booze situation by showing up drunk with the no-bathroom situation, the effect will most likely be a negative one for your shoes.
8. Annoying noise makers, whether they are objects or people.
9. This word to the wise from the Times Square Alliance: "Remember that you could be spending an extended period outdoors in potentially below-freezing conditions. You should be well-prepared and well-insulated. Many layers, synthetics (such as Goretex and polypropylene), wind-resistant and water-repellant outerwear and a good hat are the keys to staying warm."
Meaning, "Stay inside, morons!!!"
10. Being surrounded by a horde of people who don't live here and have no idea where they're going or what they're doing is pretty much a New Yorker's worst nightmare.
Even though I've never been in Times Square on NYE, I've been adjacent to it. Last year, I learned that you can see the ball drop from my roof. Sort of. It's actually a reflection of the ball from a nearby building with mirrored windows. Now, it may not have been as exciting as being amidst the freezing, drunk, pee-filled, impatient crowd, but when I walked around the roof freely with my glass of champagne in hand, knowing that I had a clean and conveniently-located bathroom just steps away, there was nowhere I'd rather be.