How to Host A Dinner Party

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It's New Year's Eve and what better way to ring in 2009 than having a few of your nearest and dearest over for some celebratory substenance? Best Life's Jay McInerney knows a thing or two about dinner parties and is ready to share.

As I grow older, and getting intoxicated and dancing in the company of strangers begins to lose its novelty, I find myself entertaining at home more often. In a way, my day job makes me unusually qualified to be a host. I sit alone for hours, like a presiding deity, attempting to coax characters into some kind of dramatic interaction. Come sundown, I crave the real thing, which means gathering friends and acquaintances and trying to coax them into some kind of dramatic interaction.

The host impulse, like all the best human behaviors, reflects a perfect balance of generosity and selfishness: I want to entertain and nurture my friends, but I also want them to love and admire me for doing so. My own ideal dinner party is a kind of temporary utopian community enlivened by an undercurrent of competitive wit and sexual tension. And utopia is within any man's grasp if he can remember three simple ingredients: guest list, wine list, and menu.

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