December 31st, I woke to cats sleeping on my legs and chest, purring, their little black noses touching, paws intertwined, tails even curled together. Ridiculous, really. I almost didn’t want to move, but plans were afoot! Great plans! Wonderful plans! Ray had agreed to come to Seattle with me! Begone kitties, take your adorable cute little selves and go sleep somewhere else. I am getting up!
We saddled up and hit the highway around four:thirty, certain I had everything needed. Goth-tastic outfit? Check. Cherie‘s phone number? Check. A basic working knowledge of Seattle? Sure. I’ve been there a whole four or five times. Once even (mostly) during the day. We’ll be fine, right? And we were. We didn’t arrive in time for dinner, but with the help of a gas-station map and a borrowed phone, finding parking on Capital Hill was trickier than finding where she lives.
Cherie lives upstairs, apparently, neighbour, through a quirk of urban planning, to my friend Ellen, with a husband, Aric, a fish, Howard, and a cat, Spainy. All of which I was aware of through her blogging, though never so immediately.* Added to this charming mix was Aric’s “heterosexual life-partner” Alex, who I met by walking into the livingroom while taking my shirt off. Go me.
After lacing ourselves in to various cliché-yet-fabulous required black, we split like atoms and went off in two cars down the hill to an odd little anonymous back alley with an industrial door at the end, on the right, the entrance to a private goth club named The Mercury. A thing which I did not think existed. Really because, well, why would it? The answer – smoking laws. When public smoking was banned in Vancouver, most people either dimmed their filthy habits down or went and huddled outside in the rain. Not so in Seattle, where some sort of cabaret license has granted private venues the right to shelter smokers, similar to the odd-ball restaurant laws of California.
It was dark inside, low, with cement floors, narrow halls, fake red velvet everywhere, and not quite enough seating. It reminded me of an illegal basement apartment as done up by a I’m-so-spooky runaway with an Ikea addiction. Absolutely perfect, like a silver bullet crucifix clutched to the heart of fourteen year old Sisters of Mercy fan.
We pinned down a corner all to ourselves, just off the dancefloor, (incongruously, it was a swing night, so the music was mysteriously superb), and cheerfully settled in with terrible goth mockery and some silly attempts at fake swing dancing. We had tremendous fun. Alex, how excellent, even found some cherries. Also of note was Cherie’s magnificent tumble, being her abrupt discovery with the frictionless effect of multi-layering with taffeta on a bar stool, but she didn’t spill all her wine, just some of it, and not on her so much as the rest of us, so the verdict was that she did okay.
Somehow, in the midst of everything, midnight crept up on us. This resulted in a tremendously over-complicated drive up the hill, then a complete and utter abandonment of the car when we discovered the fireworks had already started. We ran, whooping, wonderfully nutty in all our finery, past terrible hipster parties, (you can peek at Cherie’s post to see what they shouted at me), to discover, at the roundabout at the end of the block, that something had gone incredibly wrong and the fireworks seemed to have sputtered into a start then quit. “Hear that?” I asked, “That’s the sound of five pyrotech’s having panic attacks.” Later we discovered that there was a computer error, but at the time, there was no way to know. We were standing, chilly, laughing, and turning down offers of champagne from strangers, uncertain how long we should stand there until we gave up and turned around. We hadn’t met the fellows at the pre-agreed fireworks watching spot, after all, we were just standing at a rather random intersection. Thankfully, our perseverence was rewarded. It kicked in again with obviously programmed cues being set off by hand by people who hadn’t planned for it at all. I tried to take a picture, but I think I was laughing too much for anything steady to have come from it. The fireworks had the exquisite shape of people swearing, of trying not to think of the obscene amount of money that had been spent on the show that obviously wasn’t happening. I loved it. Those people have my utmost respect.
We regrouped at the apartment to schism into the booty-shakers and the people going to bed. This is where we lost Ray, Ellen, and Cherie to the monsters of sleeping-at-night-like-sane-people. Aric, Alex, and I went back to the club, where the music had shifted into more traditional stomp the floor flat industrial. I don’t know how long we were there, I lost track of time in dancing, but it was awhile. Hours, at least. I was introduced to some rather nice people with violently red hair and to the unpleasant fact that there will always be someone who shows up dressed as a trashy fetish santa. Eventually the smoke got me, though, and it was time to go hunting for something to eat.
People spiralled off in all directions, leaving Alex to prowl me about town, trying to find a 24 hour place with the temerity to stay open on New Year’s Eve. Eventually the clever thing found us a kosher hot dog stand where we were rudely muttered at by a slightly addled older man who sounded astonishingly like Tom Waits. We stood there, blinking back laughter as best we could as he swept leaves around us, swearing, Alex singing the first few bars to The Piano’s Been Drinking. It was terrible and we loved every minute of it. Even the hotdog.
*(Seeing Ellen was a treat rivalling her legendary cookies, and it turns out Cherie is possibly the most bubbly person I’ve ever met, instilling new life into that overused word, awesome, every ten minutes. I will never be able to read a word she writes again without her voice in my head, excitedly reading it to me.)