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“No more champagne, and the fireworks are through,” wisps a flyback from the side of Agnetha Falstogk’s post-party eye shadow exercise, playing out its divorce demise from YouTube laptop infamy. “Here we are, me and you, feeling lost and feeling blue.”

And I’ve just had another one of my brilliant Swedish ideas! But in order to whimper through my own white-couch “Happy New Year” scenario, I’m going to need an accomplice of the brunette variety. Bloop, blop, bleep and I’ve got Karen on the private misery wavelength, beamed directly from an ominous satellite and into my apocalyptic-yet-portable communication device.

“Hello, Frida?” I either Benny or Björn.


“It’s me, Agnetha, and you have to be Frida so that we can go out and find all of the deplorable people in downtown Orlando, thereby assigning them the roles of anti-resolutions in our imminent New Year’s fall-apart,” I flow-chart. “I mean, let’s go out and figure out who we don’t want to be like in 2008. You know, like ABBA would.”

“But I don’t like Frida’s hair,” she holds out for a minute like Napoleon might at Waterloo. “But I guess you’d have to be Agnetha: all blond and washed up.”

Exactly. It’s time for the annual New Year’s Eve amateur hour on the avenue that we call Orange, and thanks to a ridiculous text already intercepted by my flip-top information transponder, I’ve assigned us a destination with white couches. WHITE COUCHES!

“We’re going to SKY60,” I draw on some white eyeliner while cleverly negotiating the electronic info-devil on my shoulder. “I’m wearing a white suit, and you should find something with a cat print on it. Or a bunny.”

Within moments Frida, or Karen-Frid, produces herself at my door in what could be called a “cute top” – in this case, a one-shoulder black sweater situation with a poof of black flower at its vortex – and we’re speaking in the same flourishes of “absolutely incredible” and “enchantingly divine” that we would expect our Swedish forebears to meatball. We’ve decided, for the sake of unwanted paparazzi DUI indictments, to hoof our way to the bustling downtown thoroughfare, rather than risking my breath on a man in uniform after his ball has dropped. We’re good people.

We arrive at our destination suitably frazzled and here’s where the texted ridiculousness comes in. There’s a secret password, see. A SECRET PASSWORD!

“Umm, it’s great in ’08,” I rhyme like ABBA. And we’re in.

But in what? Upstairs, a smattering of people bathe in the rave moonlight of pervasive oonce-oonces with DJ origins, and don’t seem like black-eyed peas – or even the Black-Eyed Peas – in the throes of forced annual zeitgeist celebration at all. Which is perfect.

“Ooh,” Karen-Frid perks her flower. “I don’t want to be like those girls.”

Those girls are sporting matching red sweaters with battery-powered light-up patterns on them, and they look like they’re having one of those good times you’d buy in a catalog while both drunk and pregnant.

“And I don’t want to be like me, here,” I blend in with the furniture.

Fortunately my friend Eddie is here, which means the gay factor has increased by two, and he’s black, which clashes with both the couches and my suit. The general public seems drawn to our General Public act, and a group of four girls in cute tops gloms onto our unnecessary Tyra walk-off with requests for pictures that will later prove that they’re basically good people, too. Eddie makes some comment about me being both old and looking like a rather skinny Boss Hog, and Karen-Frid and I are off to the DJ booth.

“I’m gonna kick your ass,” she unconvincingly threatens Benny (or Andrew Spear) in reference to some inside MySpace joke or something. Meanwhile, Björn (or Mot) is spinning Deee-lite’s “Groove Is in the Heart” apropos of nothing. It’s time for a divorce or two.

We hail a cab like we’re in Stockholm or some other real city, and convince a cabbie named Warren to transport us to our next wild-card destination. My friend Dan, of the boat people with gym memberships, is throwing a party loosely approximating American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. Seriously.

“Firecrotch!” I wrap myself around redheaded Brad, also of the boat people, who’s in town on a momentary respite from his mandatory backpacking-across-Europe regime. “I want to smell your sulfur!”

Inside, host Dan is sporting short shorts and a clingy T-shirt to match his own theme, while a polite crowd of his closest catalog purchases mill around in varying shades of marketing careers. Actually, they’re all beautiful, and I do want to be like them. Thus the venom.

And the booze. Some combination of champagne, vodka and “festivities” and I’m that sort of canned vegetable that is neither edible nor nutritious. The ball drops on television in some odd hardwood-floor dancing operation, and the whole world has gone blurry, even through my Urban Outfitters white-colored glasses.

Karen-Frid catches my stumble-clue and gets on the phone to Warren (an hour away) and then an ex-boyfriend, Miguel, to try to rescue me from the imminent slippage through the New Year’s cracks. Out on the front porch, I’m in vertical fetal position and pretending to be lost in calculated disinterest, or better than all of this.

“You should come see me in Sydney,” offers Neil, the accented one among the boat people.

“Like ABBA did in 1977,” I slur. “I don’t think so.”

And just after a knightly Miguel drops me off back at the homespace, reality hits me. I pour a nightcap, stir it and throw up into the sink the most perfect cocktail I’ve ever tasted twice.

No more champagne. Happy New Year.

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