THE NEW YEAR'S Eve Cold. There's just nothing like its fury.
Have you ever had it? No? Well, you will, it's one of the most contagious colds around. The New Year's Eve Cold is worse than the Christmas Cold. That kissy-kissy stuff at midnight does it.
People always write about the New Year's hangover, how it's like a sledge hammer or an out-of-body experience. It gets all the publicity. But the New Year's Eve Cold attacks anyone who parties tonight.
Well, if you have not unearthed a baby sitter yet, you are staying home. Otherwise, I can tell you, if you aren't already sick, if you don't have a sore throat, a runny nose, laryngitis, the 24-hour cough from hell, you will after tonight.
Maybe it depends on when you get exposed -- those little holiday germs are tricky. They incubate for days sometimes before they do their number on you. These germs will claim your body by Dec. 31.
Why is it we have to kiss at midnight? Who invented THAT? Henry VIII, Ben Franklin, Rudolph Valentino? And especially why do we have to kiss someone at midnight whom we don't know and probably wouldn't borrow a potato from if they lived next door?
Oh, I know I'm a Scrooge about New Year's Eve, but I like being the first one to warn you of its treachery.
Actually, watching the ball dropping over Times Square at midnight on the tube is about as frivolous as we get anymore.
You suckers, you dopes, you dupes, don't go out tonight.
Seven out of 10 revelers will have colds tomorrow.
And let me say, non-medically, of course, that the New Year's Eve Cold comes in different sizes.
There's the, ''I'm fine, I just can't smell anything'' type of cold; there's the sore throat that when you swallow water it hurts; the barking-dog cough that wakes the children.
Beware of Bob, not his real name. He will have a nose as red as Rudolph's. He has a bad cold, but he has drunk enough booze to make him feel better, which makes him think that the alcohol has killed the germs. So he comes to the party.
Then there's Sharon. Sharon can't speak above a whisper, but she had a new dress she paid a lot for and she'll be damned if she will waste it on the PTA open house.
Then there's Kilroy, who has a high fever and is already hallucinating. But his boss is giving the New Year's Eve party, and he told his wife, ''Come hell or high water, hon, we have to go.''
He will be hanging around the clam dip, sneezing.
What he doesn't know is that by tomorrow he will be calling the doctor.
Oh, and speaking of doctors, you have to realize that doctors have a whole bag of cures for the New Year's Eve Cold that you are calling about.
''Sounds like a viral infection, why don't you come in next week.'' lTC Or the more popular, ''Take two aspirin and go to bed . . . and oh, yes, plenty of liquids.''
Doesn't he know that that's part of your trouble, you downed plenty of liquids last night and now you feel awful.
And how can the doctor know over the telephone what kind of New Year's Eve Cold you have?
He can't. But just telling him all your symptoms is therapeutic, because no one else is listening while you whine, wheeze and whimper.
I warned you.