I went to a party recently that I enjoyed so much it made me re-think everything I ever thought about parties.
I have never been fond of parties. One of my favorite quotes in literature from The Great Gatsby describes a big dinner party: “The evening progressed from phase to phase with the sheer nervous dread of the moment itself.” You got that right.
Parties are a huge leap of faith that you belong to the right social group and have learned the rules. Generosity is at the core of any successful party. You can’t run out of booze or food unless it’s the wedding feast at Cana and you have Jesus as a guest. Ideally, a good party should include several guests who are more accomplished and wealthier than you and will make your regular guests feel it was worth getting a sitter. Another nice ingredient is that the party be gay and carefree (sometimes achieved with Cole Porter songs like “You’re the Top.” Who is so beleaguered by life that they won’t smile when they hear these lyrics:
You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
There are scary aspects to parties:
1. you won’t know anyone.
2. no one will initiate a conversation with you.
3. when you infiltrate a conversational huddle, the people will stop talking and rush to get a drink.
Suppose the worst scenario takes place and you are literally alone in the center of the room visible from every corner for all the other guests to look at and ridicule. This is the time to apply the “so what?” cure. So what? What is going to happen? Your limbs won’t begin to fall off as if you were a leper at Kalaupapa. Eventually everyone will go to the next phase and the evening will progress as per Mr. Fitzgerald's forecast.
Getting back to the wonderful party that I attended recently, I have to report on the ingredient that took it out of the realm of good evening with friends and acquaintances and catapulted it into the realm of temporary amnesia gleefulness. WE PLAYED CHARADES. When you play charades with a group of smart, accomplished people who are either younger and cooler than you or same age but super smart, you become as alert as an astronaut at lift off. You forget who you are, where you live, your debts, your weight, your plumbing problems, your chronic ill functioning sinuses. You become hyper focused on solving the clues. You scream out possible answers and jump up like a lunatic. If by some miracle you guess the charade, your pituitary gland shoots something, maybe growth hormone, into your system like a fire hydrant in the ghetto. We had teams and my team won two of the three rounds. It was a great party.