When I was eight years old, my parents used to take me to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. We would go every week of the summer, spread out a blanket on the grass, and enact a tradition central to our monotheistic branch of Hinduism: singing devotional songs to passersby, often accompanied by a harmonium and brass hand symbols.
We were invited to a small dinner party -- a birthday celebration a friend of ours decided to throw for himself. Actually, it was a friend of my husband's. I knew no one. Yet I relished the chance to meet new and interesting people. I also looked forward to the splendid meal Zagat's promised we would enjoy. In my usual pre-party jitters, I worried about what to wear.