When the waitress threw the drink in my face at the stroke of midnight, I was horrified, to say the least. When I got over the initial shock of what she had done, I tried opening my eyes, but they stung with a vodka vengeance. It must have been a “martini,” I thought to myself. I held back my tears of public humiliation and a botched New Year’s Eve, as my friend and co-worker, Danny Cohen, tried wiping the excess liquid from my face and party dress.

Just moments before, I had been planting a kiss on Danny’s roommate, Leeor, who had voluntarily offered himself up as my New Year’s Eve smooch buddy. It all started a few weeks earlier, when Danny graciously invited me out with a group of his closest friends to ring in 2014 at Segafredo’s on Brickell.

At first I was hesitant, because in the past, New Year’s Eve had always been such a let down. Despite buying a fabulous dress, dinner and dancing, it always ended up in some way, shape or form, as a depressing debacle. The date would be wrong, the dinner would be ungodly expensive and the dancing? Well, put it this way: I’m way past the “clubbing it at LIV” age.

So, as most sane and reasonable adults do, I retired my ridiculous pipe dreams of the perfect New Year’s Eve night. Instead, I spent the last few years at home, in my furry pajamas, with a bottle of bubbly and the holiday blues. Watching the ball drop in Times Square wasn’t such a bad thing, but what girl doesn’t dream of more? Like that scene in the movie, “When Harry Met Sally.” Just before the stroke of midnight, Harry rushes to Sally’s side and admits his undying love for her and all of her crazy idiosyncrasies and then he sweeps her off her feet and in unison they fall into a deeply romantic, passionate kiss. Sigh. That’s why I accepted Danny’s invitation.

Besides, he sold it to me pretty hard. Danny promised the party would have great food, affordable drinks and a dynamic crowd. At first, I hemmed and hawed over the prospect because of a weird superstition I’d developed thanks to “When Harry Met Sally,” which I explained to Danny in no uncertain terms: “I can’t celebrate New Years Eve without kissing someone at midnight. It’s bad luck.” 

Of course, Danny laughed and quickly volunteered himself or his roommate for the job. Which, by the way, was extremely generous and a bit self-serving at the same time. I chuckled at his good nature and told him: “I can’t kiss you! I mean we work together for the love of God! It would be awkward.” Danny agreed.

Besides, I had known him for so long, kissing Danny would have been like kissing my brother. Ew! So Leeor, Danny’s roommate, won by default. When we told him about our plan, Leeor graciously accepted the job of giving me a decent and respectable New Years Eve kiss. Little did he know what a job it would turn out to be.

On New Year’s Eve, five of us piled into one car and carpooled it (with a designated driver) down to Brickell. I felt great as we laughed, chatted and talked about the soon-to-be festivities. I even had my hair and make-up done and bought a sparkly new dress for the occasion. It was the first time, in a long time, I was actually looking forward to a New Year’s Eve celebration.

When we arrived, most of the people in our party had already been seated at a gigantic reserved table. Unfortunately, it wasn’t big enough for all of us and the wait staff had to hustle to find room for those of us who had just arrived, which was a bit tricky because it was the busiest night of the year. While we waited, I decided to beeline it to the bar, buy a glass of bubbly and call my parents for our yearly toast (it was our tradition to wish one another a happy and healthy New Year.)

By the time I finished on the phone, all was made right in party world and a seat awaited me surrounded by new and old friends. The food and frothy party drinks filled up the evening until just a few minutes before midnight. As the clock ticked its way toward 2014, everyone stood up and I got ready to pucker-up with a dab of lip gloss. Leeor and I looked at one another, locked hands and screamed out loud with the crowd: “5! 4! 3! 2! 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!” And just like that, it happened.

Well, actually two things happened: Leeor and I did, indeed, kiss and it was pretty great, but just as we unlocked lips, a waitress from Segafredo tossed a drink at me. She walked straight up to me and threw the aforementioned martini right in my face and I watched as she smirked and laughed seconds before she did it. It was no mistake. She was definitely aiming for me and it wasn’t that kind of party.

What I mean is, no one that I was with was drunk or even remotely out of control. Danny and Leeor’s group of friends were classy, cool and consisted of lawyers, doctors, computer analysts, television and radio professionals. Those that witnessed what happened were shocked and appalled, as was I. My dress was ruined, my make-up was running and my hair was soaked. I tried to be graceful and good-natured about what happened, but I was extremely upset. I excused myself from the table.

I retreated to the bathroom and replayed the entire night in my head. Had I been rude to the waitress and not realized it? I barely had any contact with her, as Danny and Leeor ordered our food and drinks. Perhaps she didn’t like me because I was on television or maybe her co-workers put her up to the dastardly deed. I had so many questions, but no answers.

As I made my way back to the table, I grew depressed and angry. My friends insisted I talk to the manager immediately and report her. I thought about it, but it was the busiest night of the year and the beginning of what appeared to be a really crappy 2014. Instead, I did something so out of character, I still can’t believe it myself.

I took an empty martini glass from the table and filled it with a few left over drinks. I grabbed my purse and bid everyone a good night. Then, I walked over to the waitress who threw the drink in my face, tapped her on the shoulder and just as she turned around, I doused her with my concoction. I smiled and politely wished her a happy new year, walked out of the restaurant, caught a cab and cried in the backseat on my way home.

I cried for several reasons. I was embarrassed by the waitress’ behavior, my reaction and the fact that 2013 was one of the worst years of my life. I had suffered an agonizing neurological illness, a year of painful treatments to help me recover, all while getting a heartbreaking divorce. I desperately needed, hoped, wanted and dreamed that my 2014 would be better, but having an adult beverage thrown in my face, for no apparent reason, wasn’t exactly how I intended to start my new beginning.

The next day, I trudged to work and shared my story with my Deco Drive co-workers and if you watch the show, you can only imagine the field day the producers (writers of the show) had with this one. They made me laugh until I cried, cracking jokes about why the waitress creamed me with a Cosmo. One producer even said: “Why would you wipe it off? You should have been licking and sucking it off your face and clothes. I mean, who in their right mind would waste perfectly good liquor?”

Then someone else said something I’ll never forget: “Didn’t you know having a drink thrown in your face on New Year’s Eve means you’ll have the best year of your life?” Everyone laughed, including me and then, well, we all went back to work. What happened after that is mind-boggling, wait, no, it was mind-blowing. As each month of 2014 unfolded, my life became better and better, until it did indeed become the BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE.

In January, I received a clean bill of health. My agonizing year of IVIG treatments to reverse the nerve damage caused by my Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome worked. What’s more, I walked away from an illness that was for all intents and purposes supposed to kill me. I also, for whatever reason (probably an intense year of therapy,) was finally able to let go of my irretrievably broken marriage.

My little blog (the one you’re reading now) got its sea legs and my creative writing found its true home. In February, I arranged a fun Valentine’s Day outing for my closet, single friends and we celebrated being strong, independent women and for the first time, I actually believed that I was. I traveled repeatedly to Los Angeles, New York, London and even made my way to Hong Kong, performing some of the biggest and best celebrity interviews of my career. For the first time, I was invited to the Cannes International Film Festival in France, a highlight of my entertainment reporting career.

In the Summer, I met an amazing man and fell deeply in love and for the first time in my life felt safe and healthy in a relationship. By the end of Summer, I celebrated my birthday in Key West, quite possibly my favorite place on planet earth and my new love made my birthday the most magical moment of my life. A week later, my friend and co-worker, Louis Aguirre, left Deco Drive for Los Angeles, leaving the co-host position on Deco open. I immediately applied and auditioned. It was a process that took months of hard work, dedication and sheer determination.

In November, I was offered the job and humbly accepted. The day that my promotion was announced, I was asked to be at the Deco offices at a certain time. Upon my arrival, Alice, Tom, Kelly, Diana, Andrew, Geoff and Lynn (my bosses, executive producers and co-host) arrived with a congratulatory cake and sang Happy Birthday! Obviously, it wasn’t my birthday, but it was a very special moment. Each person had played a pivotal role in my career, but more importantly, they had helped me grow and become the person that I had always hoped to be.

As the holiday approaches, I can’t help but think about last New Year’s Eve and how appreciative I am for the lesson that I learned. The singular act of having a drink tossed in my face not only bolstered my bravery, it taught me to stand up for myself and that’s why I wanted to write this blog. It may sound trite, but now, I truly believe that the best things in life can come from the worst moments. And, that’s what…

“Thanksgiving, it’s a booty-ful thing,” is all about. The spirit of the blog is about mixing the old and the new into something beautiful and believable. My stylist, Shari, picked the three best boots of the season for the blog; short, medium and tall. I paired her choices with my own favorite vintage coats, each were purchased at very poignant, pivotal moments in my life.

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Matter of fact, I’m not sure words or even fashion could appropriately express the gratitude of my good fortune. I will say, though, if you happen to be feeling sad, unhappy or even broken, I understand. Just know, when you least expect it, things can turn in your favor. It did for me and my odds were, as my doctors used to say, impossible… and that’s why 2014 and “Thanksgiving, it’s a booty-ful thing,” will always be one of my favorite things.

Blog styled by Shari Bloch
Twitter: @soblondie729
IG: @ShariBloch
FB: Styling by Shari

Shoe Wardrobe provided by:
Twitter: @KokoPalenki
IG: @KokoPalenki
FB: Koko Palenki

Twitter @ShireenSandoval
IG @ShireenSandoval

photography by tod p/t4twophotography
Twitter @todp_photo
IG @Tod_p

Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
Twitter @Odettehernandz
IG Odett_Herndz

Editor: Matthew Auerbach

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