Mysterious Pete and myself determined that we would have a fine evening seeing in 2000. It did not work out quite that way!
Firstly we went to go and see End of Days, which - why haven't more people picked up on this? - is exactly the same movie as The Usual Suspects, except that it isn't very great. Seriously, it features Gabriel Byrne being more evil than he appears; a scene of a man pissing on or near a van which leads to dire consequences for Kevin Pollack; the line, "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist"; and a title with a plural in it. SAME MOVIE.
We joked that we should see End of Days on the evening of December 31st, 1999, as it really would be the end of days. We would soon wish it was. This is not a hyperbole! The only thing going in Christchurch was Dave Dobbyn singing maudlin dirges about how he'd recently discovered that the Bible had some deep themes in it. A couple of these had us wailing. (If you are not from New Zealand, that is a pun on a well known Dave Dobbyn song). (Also, if you are not from New Zealand, Dave Dobbyn is sort of like John "Cougar" Mellencamp to the Finn Brothers' Bruce Springsteen, except that Slice of Heaven certainly is no Paper in Fire. But then, Don't Dream it's Over is no Born to Run).
The rumour was that at the stroke of midnight, white supremacist biker gangs would descend on Cathedral Square to unleash unholy fury on the impure, drug-addled reprobates ringing in the new century. We decided that we wanted very much to be among these reprobates, because see above, Dave fucking Dobbyn. Much to our dismay, there was no impurity or drug-addlement or the like to be found in the civic centre of the South Island's biggest city. There were a couple dozen old white people watching a little LCD screen that counted down, and when it reached 2000, there was some cheering that, were I to describe it as "half-hearted", would be an insult to the ouevre of Matchbox 20; so let us say that the moment it became the 2000s was sufficient to prompt Mysterious Pete to turn to me and say, "fuck it, let's go to a strip club."
Mysterious and myself are less than priggish gentlemen, but we are not big oglers. We wandered from the Square to Lichfield Street, trying to goad each other into a state of readiness to See Some Fuckin' Titties, and we paid our Titty Toll, and we slunk past the wrought-iron pentacles in the door of the Voodoo Lounge. Astute readers will notice a recurring theme in our evening's proceedings: from demon-fighting to Bible Studies in the park to descending into the domain of the Adversary we went, our pilgrims' progress at its nadir, our lower impulses awaiting any sort of rank enlivening in this joyless new age.
We left at around the point the evening's featured dancer pulled a chain out of her cooch.
Mysterious Pete turned to me. "This evening sucks," he observed. I allowed as that it was, indeed, a less than salutory way to usher in the new Millennium.
"I have some Bailey's at home," said Mysterious Pete. "Let's watch wrestling."
We sat in his house, reveling in the empty dissatisfaction of the infant century. Was this how it would be? Hunter Hearst Helmsley spewed angry mist like a vengeful gargoyle. We sipped Irish Cream in his living room and watched grown men play-fight for our amusement. Neither of us were tired, but there was less and less to stay awake for.
The sunrise of the new millennium found me on Sumner beach, squinting through smog and drinking weak coffee out of a thermos. The Twenty First Century had arrived, and it was the least significant thing that had ever happened.