Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Not to Start a Party: Timaeus 17a–20c

When one of us misses the feast, the others must pick up the slack in proportion and fill in what’s now left out. When one of us happens to miss, I’m sure the guest host says to himself, “Well, now, this is awkward.” And the reputable etiquette guides all counsel never to count on proportions turning out the way we know they should. But how one could know all this at the beginning, is not easy for two or three to say.

“Did you all remember your assignments?” is not what I want to hear at a party. And then, afterward, my friend asks, “What kind of party was it, anyway?” But there I was, the life of it. If I were someone else, I’d want to shoot myself for that.

When the conversation turns to politics: We all know what the etiquette guides say about that (even the disreputable ones agree): “Subtly turn the conversation to something more suitable.” Are there any good movies you’d like to see? A war movie? My, I didn’t think you were into those sorts of things.

(Take my advice: A languishing party, like a sleeping tiger at the zoo—not the sort of thing to engender much enthusiasm. Best at that point to start drinking or leave. Whatever happens next, won’t be worth remembering.)

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