Social season in Newcastle

October 7, 2008

By Imelda Dulcich

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Once autumn rolls around, social season will be in full tilt. (Yes, I know we’re not in the Hamptons — I’m not delusional). But, once the weather cools down, our Newcastle calendars fill up with parties and dinners.

 There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that you’ll get invited to some of them. The bad news is that they’re not all guaranteed to be fun. Elsa Maxwell once said, “Under pressure, people admit to murder, setting fire to the village church or robbing a bank, but never to being bores.” 

Maxwell reigned as America’s top party-giver in the mid-20th century. Labeled “The Hostess with the Mostest” by the press, her rise to command the ballrooms of New York, Vienna and London took her worlds away from very humble Iowa beginnings. In her books, she talks of just turning and walking away from boring people at a party; or handing them a book and escorting them to the door. My husband lives in fear that I’ll take up her ideas. Hmmm.

Life is too short for bad parties.  

One of the first parties we held when I moved here was a weirdly cool horoscope dinner party. I had found an old cookbook which featured recipes for all zodiac signs, had my guests all let me know which sign they were and when they came for dinner, we dined on the most oddly matched appetizers, entrees and desserts. It made for lively conversation and fun comparisons of personality traits of our signs. It was zany, but it was fun.

We went to a great party on Valentine’s Day a few years ago. It was a sit-down dinner with married couples and the entertainment portion included written questions to which the spouses had to guess how their “other half” would answer. Lots of laughs and instant tiffs with spouses. Great fun.

Friends Gail and Dave Smith (formerly of Newcastle) held a costume party where you had to wear very ugly formal/prom wear. If you didn’t dress as requested, they had costumes at the ready into which you would be forced to change. I was so annoyed that I had put on a truly wretched dress, not at all complimentary and all the other women came in “faux ugly.” In other words, they all looked smashing while I looked like Queen Elizabeth at 40. But, while I didn’t feel like the belle of the ball, I wasn’t bored.

Have a spur-of-the-moment pajama party where your neighbors and their children can walk over to watch a game and eat pizza. Pre-arrange a scavenger hunt with the neighbors so the children can safely go to friends’ homes for the needed items. On a rainy day, set up a game table in the foyer for children’s bingo; dollar-store prizes work great.

And, be a good guest. Before you head out for the night, I suggest a quick perusal of the Internet to get yourself up to par on daily news events. Don’t forget the less intellectual yet equally comical draw of the entertainment world. 

We were at a drab dinner party, and across the table was a very quiet elderly man who wouldn’t talk or crack a smile. I thought he had hearing problems. 

Later into the dinner, when I launched into my impressions of Whitney Houston from the ticky-tacky but so irresistible show, “Being Bobbie Brown,” the old man started laughing hysterically. Turns out he was a fan of the show, too. Never underestimate the bonding power of reality television.  

I challenge us all to throw a better party this year. I personally don’t ever want to hear those famous words left behind by George Sanders: “Good-bye. I am leaving because I am bored.”

Let me know about your great social season by e-mailing

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