Having vowed not to f— up another dinner party, I said I’d report on a party last weekend, and my continuing effort to socialize myself. Herewith:
I thought I did fine. I didn’t seem to make anyone uncomfortable. I probably laughed too loud at an anecdote a friend told, about a big meeting of executives in New York, to which one woman showed up late, with her neck in a brace, and to cover her lateness and the accessory, said, “Kama sutra position 33,” as she found her way to a chair. I say too loud because the storyteller then explained that no one at the meeting laughed because the woman who said it had a reputationso she wasn’t going counter to type, which would have been very funny; she was merely trying to scandalize the group. But another guy at the table also laughed very hard, even more loutishly than I did, and he and I both made “Kama sutra position 33” a running joke. I think I went a little over the line on that; I had a little too much to drink.
My wife, who is well-bred, saw it somewhat differently. “Your grade is a B-. You had an easy crowd and you still made a few mistakes. There was no reason for you to make any mistakes given the ease of the group, and the fact that you didn’t have any weird competitive feelings about any of them. When you’re feeling weird and competitive, you do your dry drunk thing. You insist that we should all discuss Muriel Spark, and then you give us a lecture. I remember you telling me that time that you didn’t feel that the group was intellectual enough and you wanted to yank it up by its bootstraps. I don’t think you can yank up a social Saturday night party into an intellectual gathering.
“You get points for trying to flow with the crowd and not trying to convert anybody in that rubelike unsophisticated way. You didn’t say anything weirdly sexual. You don’t get points for that, but you don’t get any points off for that. You get the B for actually trying to be in the situation, trying to be In Rome. You never usually do that. But the reason it’s a B-, you didn’t really contribute, you tried to be right on the edge with some of your announcements. Do you understand what it means to sing for your supper? That doesn’t mean you stand up and perform and speechify, it means you’re in the choir, and you go along with the chorus.”
Huh. Good advice. Keep you posted…