We moved the plates in the foyer first – holding each one with the delicacy of a newborn. Then the hanging ones in the dining room. Each one was now neatly wrapped in layers of newspaper in the living room behind the French doors. We took every precaution.
I wasn’t even 18 years old, but I had a 7-bedroom house to myself for the winter break. Think Tom Cruise in Risky Business. I had an older brother nearby, my best friend staying with me, and a wad of cash. What could possibly go wrong?
“No Parties,” my mom said as she walked out the door. Suitcase filled ready for their trip to Europe.
The party I should not have had. (Photo credit Elana Rabinowitz)
A few weeks ago my friends and I were debating what we would do for New Year. It was our senior year and probably our last time together. Surely someone would have a party. But as the holiday was nearing it wasn’t looking good. I had an empty house, and a history of big bashes, and thus the consensus was that I would host.
“I promised my mother no parties,” I said.
“What if we made it invite only?” Then we could control it. My friend suggested.
I eventually gave in. I mean it was my senior year and I was dammed if I wasn’t going to have a small soiree to ring in the new year. We thought of every precaution; limited guest list, removal of antiques, clean-up crew. For weeks while my parents planned their trip my friends and I took out pieces of loose-leaf paper and made lists of who would do what. This was going to be ok I thought.
People arrived in their black dresses with their dates and were escorted to the dining room, resembling a bonafide cocktail party. I can’t say I remember much else of the night. Not due to intoxication but rather worry.
While my friends laughed and chatted, I ran up and down those stairs, with a garbage bag in one hand and Newport’s in the other. My mother may not have been there, but I felt her presence and guilt – thus spending the entire night cleaning up after people and making sure no one got hurt. So much for my big party. This sucked.
At some point, we screamed Happy New Year and eventually, people went home. There was no real drama, the usual stuff, a few tears, a few handsy guys, but overall, we did alright. I cleaned up a tad and some friends slept over. In the morning others stopped by to help. I was set. My parents would never know.
I thought my parents would never know that I hosted a party. (Photo credit Elana Rabinowitz)
We grabbed some cleaning supplies and began to head upstairs. That’s when I noticed it. That wooden bench on the landing. The one like the rest of the house was built in the late 1800s. It was cracked slightly but enough to catch my eye.
Then I looked up as the light shone through the stained-glass window, the rose formation surrounded by a series of emerald triangles. It was then I let out the loudest scream.
My friends came running and I just stood there staring at that window.
“It’s broken!” I yelled. “It’s broken!”
One little triangle had been cracked and I didn’t know what to do. My friends tried to console me, but nothing could. I had broken the rules and now a very expensive window. $500 dollars to be exact.
Over the next few days, I managed to get a helpful friend and her father to remove the window and take it to a repair shop that specialized in antiques. That meant in the heart of winter, in a crime-ridden neighborhood I had no window. I then had no food as the money my parents left for it now had to go to the window.
My best friend returned home after telling her parents what happened and my brother instead of helping, skimmed some of the food money for himself. I too was broken. How could I survive this?
My friends tried to raise funds, but it was minimal. I was sitting in the dinner when a tall acquaintance, out of the blue handed me close to a hundred dollars and I was able to pay for the window. His dad was a big wig in the music industry. I hugged him. Then took a bite of the toasted muffin my friend bought for me.
A few days later, my friend and her father returned to their station wagon, and we were able to put the window back in its original spot. I put a pillow over the crack on the bench and looked out the window. Good as new I thought.
I waited for my parents to come home. Dreading every minute of my freedom.
A few days later they came through the door calling my name. My mother had just got off an 8-hour flight but was busy rearranging the plates which apparently were put back out of order. She didn’t miss a beat. She then looked me straight in the eye.
I was trembling but strong.
“Thanks,” she said and returned to the dining room.
“Who fixed the window?” She asked.
Apparently, it was broken the whole time, I just never noticed.
“Surprise!” I said smirking.
It was broken the whole time!
That was the last time I had a New Year’s Party. And for a punishment, I got to look at the green glass every day to remind me of what happens when I tried to defy my parent’s wishes.
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