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Full Circle: New Year parties remembered

New Year.  A time to reflect. Does that mean looking in the mirror? Hope not, as that is no way to start off 2018 … particularly if you celebrated the night before.

Remember how, as a kid, it was your challenge to stay awake until the clock struck midnight? In your early years, to your great disappointment, you failed miserably, but finally that one year came when you finally hung in there. Of course you were beyond pooped by the time it happened and so groggy you barely had the oomph to celebrate.

If you were like me, most of us had a sibling shake us into consciousness when the TV screen — if you had a TV — burst to life with the frenzied images of Times Square. There you were in your rumpled pj’s with a case of serious bed hair. You felt sluggish as all get out, but grown up.  You toasted with orange juice, pretending it was champagne, and even hugged your siblings — including your sisters — something way outside your norm.

How very cool it all was. At last — at last! — you had actually welcomed in the new year. And now you could boast about it to your buddies … with much nonchalance … as if it routinely happened every Dec. 31.

Many years later, when I was married, one of my family discovered that if you blew into the long extension piece of our vacuum cleaner, it made a sound exactly like a trumpeting elephant. What could be better for waking up the neighbors on New Year’s Eve? So that’s what we did.  We also had an old bugle that accompanied this glorious racket. We were so avant garde, so unconstrained, so much cooler than anyone on the block!

When I was in high school, getting invited to a New Year’s bash was the height of exclusivity. I used to prepare my lips for this occasion. Who would kiss me? What would it be like? Would I have to accept just anybody kissing me? And worse, what if no one wanted to kiss me? The weight of it was exhausting. My lips had never been so high on my concern list.

Furthermore, would it be OK to reject some of the lips that were headed my way? And wouldn’t I be astonished to discover that some of those initially unappealing lips had really good kiss maneuvers? Or that the techniques of their owners were delightfully impressive? Smooching on New Year’s Eve was an education, I tell you. It was like going into a bakery and being allowed … encouraged! … to take a bite out of every goodie in sight. You got to sample first before you invested.

As I was about to leave for that teenage bash, a paralyzing thought struck me. What about my oral hygiene? How necessary was it to have sweet breath when midnight rolled around? I mean, what if this was my one and only chance in the entire world to be kissed by the dreamiest man in the room only for him to find out that I had halitosis. The thought nearly plummeted me into the doldrums. With this in mind, I further planned out my evening. I would deny any offers of salmon dip, onion dip, blue cheese dip and pickled herring. Wine was out and so was beer. I’d stick to 7-Up and saltine crackers and slip in a stick of Juicy Fruit as the clock neared midnight.

My, oh, my how the years have changed all that. Anymore I’m happy to stay home on Dec. 31.  My lips are now pleated, I’ve reverted back to wearing rumpled pj’s with bad bed hair and I’m in bed by 8. I no longer have to tell anyone that I witnessed midnight because I have every confidence in the world that it happened without my assistance. Heck, by now I have learned that the whole world pretty much revolves and functions without my assistance. It’s kind of reassuring to realize this. The universe doesn’t need me all the time and I can just sit back and watch things happen.

If sometime in the future I’m invited to a New Year’s Eve soiree, I plan to dive into the blue cheese dip and wash it down with a hefty glass of fruity wine. Then in that aromatic stupor I will toddle over to the dreamiest man in the room and—while breathing heavily from the sudden exertion — plant one —smack! — right on his luscious lips. Badda bing! Badda badda boom!!

In the meantime, does anyone know where I put that vacuum extension pipe?

Peggy Keener is the author of the two award winning books “Potato in a Rice Bowl” and “Wondahful Mammaries.”