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    It’s almost time for the New Year vacation. That means Atsushi and I will be entertaining–we’re two of the party-throwers among our friends. It also means it’s time for the yearly Great Gay Veuve Clicquot Exchange. (My theory is that there are actually only five bottles of Champagne Veuve Clicquot in existence in any given year, and they get passed back and forth in a sort of Chinese fire drill as host gifts at fag parties from mid-December to the first week of January. No one ever seems to open them.) Maybe I’ll make stew or something. The weather’s been unseasonably cold in Japan as in the States, so we’re ready for the sort of warming food you normally don’t need until the approach of February.

    Of course, Atsushi and I already set a precedent for food randomness over the weekend. Usually, I make dinner on Christmas Eve; last year, I even roused myself to start preparing a week ahead of time and made sauerbraten and dumplings. This year, my flight landed on the 22nd, and Atsushi arrived on the 23rd (the banks were closed for the emperor’s birthday). Between jet lag and general tiredness, I didn’t make a single dinner while he was here. Christmas Eve we went to a tempura restaurant. Atsushi chose it because I love vegetable tempura and because Western-style restaurants tend to be packed on Christmas Eve. Tempura isn’t quite as traditional as, say, goose, but…uh, you know…tempura was brought to Japan by the Portuguese. And Portugal’s a Catholic country. So you can find a Christmas connection in there somewhere, especially if you’re on your third glass of wine.

    Hope everyone else enjoyed Christmas (or just the weekend).

    Added at 22:30: This guy (via Gay News) obviously moves in very different circles from me. A Ten Commandments of cocktail parties that doesn’t start talking about the drinks until Commandment #9? Whatever. I also like these:

    Commandment #4:
    […] And don’t forget the bathroom! Scented candles, an elegant bottle of hand soap, extra toilet paper, and a basket of high-quality napkins or paper towels make guests feel pampered.

    I’m sorry, honey, if you’re hanging out with the sort of people who can made to feel pampered by a pile of paper towels dumped in a basket, you need to find new friends. (My Crabtree & Evelyn guest towels, embroidered in saucy botanical patterns and housed next to the brushed-metal soap dispenser, are a big joke among our buddies.)

    As for scented candles, this guy has dispatched them handily so I don’t have to. I will only add that having tall, fat candles lit in an enclosed space in which tipsy people are unattended and desperately fumbling with their clothes is not the brightest idea.

    Commandment #7:
    Keep ’em moving! The entire point of a cocktail party is to mingle. To encourage that behavior, set up your bar and your buffet table on opposite ends of the room (or in different rooms altogether). That way you don’t end up with traffic jams and a huge cluster of people in one spot. Also, sitting down is a no-no! To keep the energy up and the party moving, only provide half as many seats as you have guests. Besides, we all look thinner and more elongated when we stand.

    In my experience, people who don’t want to stand will not stand. If you’ve removed every stick of furniture from the room except the drinks table, they will stretch themselves out on your floor. They will close the lid of your garbage can and perch on it. If they know where the bedroom is and you’ve locked it, they will find your utility drawer, get a screwdriver, jimmy the lock, and sprawl on the bed.

    And this David Lawrence character has also forgotten in their entirety two indispensable party ingredients: salt and club soda. Someone will inevitably spill red wine. If you’re lucky, it’ll be a few drops on one of your patterned throw pillows. If you’re not lucky, as one of our friends wasn’t a few years ago, it’ll be a full glass that gets knocked over the edge of a table by someone who’s getting a little over-enthusiastic about hitting on one of the other guests. (Three guesses what color the carpet was.)

    2 Responses to “Entertaining”

    1. Portia says:

      Um… Veuve Cliquot comes to my house to die. I’m usually given at least one bottle a year and I usually find a reason to open it during the year.

      So… unless they’re self-renewing five bottles…

      Of course I’m a woman and straight, so that might break the rule already. :)

      I did not know this was a gay drink. Now you’ll have me looking very intently at the — straight, married — friends who gift me with Veuve…

      If I don’t drop by before then, have a happy new year.


    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I’m pretty sure straight people are allowed to buy and drink Veuve Clicquot, too–the Family is generous-minded about these things, especially during holiday time–so don’t be giving your women friends any sly warnings about their husbands just yet. But it’s ubiquitous at gay house parties, to the point that when someone bursts merrily through the door and yet again shoves a familiar orange box at the host while putting his shoes on the pile, it gives you kind of a shiver of déjà vu.

      Happy new year to you and your (happily urban) family, too, Portia.

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