If I gave you ten tries, you would never guess what Rachel and I did for our first New Years' Eve as parents. Go ahead. If you are thinking a nice, quiet night at home, you are sadly mistaken. Did you guess a babysitter and a night out on the town? Sorry. A few friends watching a giant mirror ball and Ryan Seacrest on the streets of New York? Try again. If you guessed a bar, a house party, Korean food, video games and tequila shots - babies in tow, you get the prize.
Rachel and I spent the day at The Orange Park Ale House watching the Texas Bowl football game between our beloved Missouri Tigers and the Naval Academy. We Klug's were pretty stoked for the Bowl game this year, since most of the people we know here in Jacksonville are graduates of the Naval Academy. Plus, barring references to David Robinson and Roger Staubach, most would not think a service academy could beat a Big XII school at much of anything, let alone football. Mizzou recruits kids to play football; The Naval Academy looks for guys who can navigate a nuclear submarine - throwing a spiral is just icing on the cake. But alas, my friend and fellow Lieutenant John Cocca, knows exactly how to turn the tables in Navy's favor. John noted that the Academy, his alma mater, is undefeated when he does a shot of Patron tequila. Rachel, the kids and I met John and several other friends to watch the game and put John's superstition to the test. John did the shot of tequila, I scoffed at the tradition, and the rest is history. The Naval Academy didn't just beat the Tigers, they embarrassed them. I have heard several times that sailors are only good at three things: cursing, drinking and fighting. Apparently some of us are moderately proficient at playing football as well.
Later that night, Rach and I fed the kids and put them to bed like any other night. However, about thirty minutes later, the kids were jolted awake to visions of their parents dressed in fancy party clothes hovering above their cribs. We packed the half-awake kids into car seats and headed for our friends Rob and Jamie Woodards house. They threw the most non-traditional New Year's party ever, entertaining a small group of friends with Korean food and the video game Rock Band until just before midnight.
Ten years ago on New Years' Eve I was on a beach in Miami, partying like it was 1999 - mostly because it was. But the party scene for a new parent is a bit different from the hooting and hollering days of my earlier years. My grand entrance to the party consisted of quietly shuttling our children upstairs, pulling them out of their car seats and laying them down to sleep in a play pen and on a futon. Every ten minutes for the rest of the night one of the two of us crept up to the room and pressed an ear against the door. The highlight of the party was when another couple announced their pregnancy, with the new mother expecting her first child in August. It took all I had not to smile and shout, "Ha, sucker!" at the top of my lungs, but I remained composed and offered congratulations like a civilized person.
At midnight we watched stuntman Travis Pastrana jump a rally car over a lagoon in Las Vegas - I told you the Woodards throw a non-traditional party. The evening had passed fast, 2010 had begun and the revelry was just beginning. Rachel and I were having a great time, but then something crazy happened. Amid the blur of blow horns, fireworks, televised flying cars, hands shaking and shouts of "Happy New Year," someone whispered, "You wanna go home?" I still don't know if it was Rachel or me who instigated the conversation, but soon my mind was no longer at 12:01. I imagined myself at 3:30 am with a mad, hungry baby. Then I was at 4 am with a terrifyingly cruel, sleep deprived wife. Next I envisioned the 5 am crawl to the babies room to replace a pacifier that had fallen out. Soon my mind travelled to 7 am with a headache the size of the lagoon that Travis guy just jumped in his neato car. My nightmarish trek ended and my decision was made. By the look in her eyes I could tell Rachel had just made a similar journey through space and time into that alternate universe. Without saying more than a few words to each other, we had the car packed and the kids inside by 12:10. We were home sleeping by 12:30, our idea of spending a good night together now consisting of a warm bed and six to eight hours of sleep.