Perhaps I should back up for a second and tell you about the last party I threw. The year was 1994. Kurt Cobain had just committed suicide, Forrest Gump won the Oscar®, and I was feeling ambitious. Not ambitious in the learn-a-foreign-language, volunteer-at-a-shelter, go-for-a-power-walk sense of the word, but ambitious enough to make dessert from scratch.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. In retrospect, it's easy to understand why you don't see more flambéing done in the home. But who would ever have imagined that something called cherries jubilee could singe so much off so many?

When the smoke cleared and the sugar settled, I knew I'd given my last get-together. If a hostess has to end the evening by assuring guests, "With any luck at all, your eyebrows will grow back, good as new," it's time to take the extra leaf out of the dining table and call it a night.

But then was then, and now I needed to get back in the game. I scoured Manhattan for a suitable venue and settled on a pretty little place called Moon Soup. It had a giant penguin in the window and "Hound Dog" on the sound system. But what hooked me was the promise that all I had to do was show up and have a good time—they would take care of everything else. I knew I was perfectly capable of showing up. Hell, I've been showing up for things all my life—last week alone, I made it to a mammogram, a pedicure, a memorial service, and a new-parents' tea at Julia's preschool. The question was, Could I have a good time?


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