New Year Intolerance

In the small beach settlement of Mahia, New Year’s Eve is a rite of passage and police label the area a ‘hotspot’. The fact that it’s tagged as a likely area for trouble is a magnet in itself.

Last New Year’s Eve our sleepy settlement rocked. The following night was still busy but it was beginning to ease up, and the night after that the usual quiet began to reign again — except for our neighbours.

My street is a small, no exit road, and the house across from us had been full of unsupervised teenagers for days. Their music was unvaried, angry and relentless. It had a meth beat to it as if the house occupants were too drugged to change the playlist. By night three after New Year’s Eve, I‘d had a gutsful and I got up out of bed at midnight and went to visit them.

The night was stunning. The sky was alive with light and I stared up in awe. I remember the gentle sea breeze and the dew on the grass but my main focus was on the noise across the road and the selfish little shits that didn’t seem to realise that three nights of persistent partying was unfair.

I walked with the sort of purpose that only bossy women can carry off. It’s a recognizable gait, most frequently seen in teachers or women who have raised teenagers. Down my drive, out the gate and across the road I went, knotting my dressing gown over my otherwise naked body.

The first thing I saw when I marched the scary march up the driveway opposite, was a big black car parked just off the gravel. The driver’s door was open and the stereo blared in direct competition with the music blasting from the house. No wonder the beat had been all to hell.

I came up to the driver’s door and was able to make out big hairy knees. The driver, reclined in his seat was sound asleep and even though I said ‘Oi’ three times, he didn’t stir.

Unbelievable.

I leaned in and tapped his knee with the side of my cell phone, (my trusty torch). He shot up like the dummies in the car accident ads and I felt immense satisfaction as I saw fear cross his face.

Young men I’ve come to realise, watch so many movies, they live in constant readiness for attack and when it became apparent that I wasn’t the type of threat he might expect from a gang movie he looked at me as if he’d woken into the middle of a horror film. I pressed on whilst I had the upper hand.

‘Turn that crap off,’ I said, now using my cellphone to stab in the direction of his ignition key. ‘You’re a bunch of selfish, selfish brats.’ I’d wanted to say children but I could see in the lights from the house that he had facial hair.

The selfish brat stared at me and then past me. I saw his brain struggling to remember what he’d last taken. Perhaps he thought I was the grim reaper? Maybe I was a wandering spirit, an apparition? I met his gaze and held my ground firmly and my dressing gown even tighter. ‘Hurry up. Turn it off.’

‘Where did you come from? He stammered.

His stammer was music to my ears. He thought he was tripping out.

‘The street,’ I said, pointing vaguely up the road. ‘I represent everyone: babies, old people and campers. We’ve all had enough.’ I didn’t need to repeat my command because this big tough lad in the black car had already switched his music off. I stood back to let him out and he towered above me in his big boots. My jandals felt very flat.

‘And you can tell those people up there,’ I said pointing my cellphone at the big house with the garage doors thrown up, ‘that we’d like a bit of peace and quiet now, thank you.’

My tone was the ghastly mother voice that usually finishes with ‘And your room is a pigsty.’ He must have recognized the sound because he nodded as he hurried towards the house.

I made my way off the property and checked that no one was watching before I slunk into my own driveway again. I stopped outside the tent on our lawn and whispered in an excited voice, ‘is anyone awake?’ There was no reply.

I went inside. My sleeping Husband must have sensed I was out on a disciplining mission and might be sometime, because he’d stretched out across my side of the bed and was snoring blissfully.

I wrestled some space back and lay down. I giggled at the absurdity of the incident. It was only as I lay there in the darkness for a while that it began to dawn on me how quiet the neighbourhood was. The noise had completely stopped. Power to you, Mammy Anne I thought as I drifted off to sleep.