Why is it that when the weather turns nice we think thoughts of winter? Today, I’m reminiscing about New Year’s Eve, specifically, NYE in Dupont Circle. Here’s what I’m talking about. This is an excerpt from my first novel, Upside Down Kingdom:

I had no idea what New Year’s Eve would be like, but I was sure I couldn’t handle it…

“Okay, quiet down,” Stuart said as he stepped out of the office and walked toward us. “Alright, this won’t take long. We’re well stocked on everything tonight, so sell like crazy. It’s gonna get tough, gonna get busy, gonna get rough, so be prepared, be flexible, keep moving, and ask for help if you need it. Drunks: cut ’em off, get ’em out of here, hail ’em a cab. We brought up all the extra tables and chairs from the basement which should help you guys, but we’re gonna be busy as shit tonight. And when we reach full capacity, hit the point of no return, make ’em wait. Alright. New guys Raul and Amy: you’ll be downstairs here with T.J. and Charlotte. Jessica, Katie, Carlos, you’re upstairs. Any questions? Ready to open the doors? Let’s do it.”

In Virginia, the most we ever got out of a manager before a shift were the occasional “we’re out of something” talks. This was different; nerve-wracking. It was the moment before the big show. And what a show it was. New Year’s Eve wasn’t just busy. Mobbed was more the term for it.

By five, every chair was filled, including the extras from the basement. It was hard to maneuver through the serving floor, and even harder to keep up with all the demands. I was moving as fast as I could, breaking a sweat, and still never less than three tables behind. And yet, I was having the time of my life.

Unlike in Virginia, we didn’t have a pastry chef for desserts or someone taking care of our soups or plain coffees and teas. We did all of that ourselves from a two-by-two countertop which was covered in mess within an hour. After that, we used any available space we could find, and by the end of the night we’d have things thrown and stuffed everywhere.

We were creative about it: using the shelves of the refrigerator as counter space for slicing pies, lids of the soup well as drink holders, the ice bin as a tray stand, and everywhere served well as a garbage can. There weren’t busboys to help us out, so our priority was cleaning up the tables to make room for more customers, not cleaning up after ourselves.

bookBy ten, most of our customers were in costume, from pixies to vampires to celebrity look-alikes, to Baby New Year—a grown man dressed in a diaper—to cats, strippers, and even a man in black with a lampshade on his head. The line waiting to get in was trailing out the door and along the sidewalk outside. “Standing Room Only” turned into “Stand Anywhere You Like.”

For more, check out Upside Down Kingdom on Amazon.