The year 2000 was no exception. I was a junior in high school and everyone was talking about potential computer problems surrounding the 1999 to 2000 - it was Y2K madness. My friend Elizabeth and I did our usual party planning routine, complete with a Y2K piñata and glitter everywhere. We had about 20 of our friends at our little party in the basement, which also served as a surprise birthday party for our friend Luke, who turned 16 on New Year's Eve. After a while, Elizabeth's parents decided to go to a party a few miles away. There wasn't much fear of anyone getting into trouble considering the closest neighbor was about a mile down the road.
I had been watching New Year's celebrations around the world throughout the day and knew by the time of our party the Y2K bug was a fear unrealized. We would all be fine after all. So about 15 minutes before the stroke of midnight we gathered our friends upstairs, huddled around the television to watch the countdown. Everyone had noise makers and were ready to celebrate.
Then the countdown started. It was something like, "Five - four - three - two..." Nothing. It was silent - and dark. The lights and all of the electricity suddenly went out, and all of our friends were frozen in that moment. Then we laughed. Surely it was a practical joke. Luke was known for his mischievous ways. No one confessed to the act, and everyone was accounted for in the room. With no flashlight on hand, I turned on the video camera so that the light would pop on, and walked to the breaker box. Boys thinking that they knew best surrounded the box and began flipping switches. Nothing happened. I picked up the phone to call my mom who lived about five miles away to see if she had electricity. There was no dial tone. I looked at Elizabeth and told her there was a problem. We problem solved out loud - trying to make sense of what was happening. The world seemed to be fine, but then again we lived in a rather rural and sometimes behind-the-times area. A guy few of us knew ran outside in half-panic mode. "Dude, the lights are out, the phones are dead, the world is coming to an end," this guy yelled to his friend. "But why are those lights on over there," he said in a daze, finally looking up to see that there were lights on at the neighbor's house miles away. Then there was laughter coming from the side of the house.
"Luke it's your parents!" Elizabeth yelled out with a smile she was attempting to suppress. As Luke's parents walked into the house, so did Elizabeth's parents and several other adults. Apparently the party across the field became dull so a trick on the kids was just the trick. Soon the electricity and phones were turned on again, and we breathed a sigh of relief. The parents had their laughs and went back to the party to leave us talking about the witty prank.
Each year, as the countdown gets down to that final moment, I can't help but remember with fondness that year we thought we met our doom. Now I'm a bit older and the simple get-togethers are no more. "The group" has scattered from our hometown in the middle of the Oklahoma Panhandle, and I'm sure everyone has plans of their own this year. There are parents and spouses among us now, and dynamics have changed. Elizabeth and I often wish we could pull everyone in for a "get together" but distance prevents it. There are plenty of New Year's to celebrate, I still can't help but think that I've already experienced one of the most memorable end-of-the-year holiday celebrations. All because of a simple Y2K prank - what a way to remember the new millennium!
Amanda Gragert is editor of Capital City Weekly. Send e-mail to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.