Special Forces

If you want to be the popular one at a party, here's a good thing to do: Go up to some people who are talking and laughing and say, 'Well technically, that's illegal.' It might fit in with what somebody just said. And even if it doesn't, so what, I hate this stupid party.

-Jack Handey

Never send a boy to do a man's job.

Never bring a knife to a gunfight.

Never have a pedicure performed in your office because your coworkers will definitely assume there's some other reason that there are people milling about underneath your desk.

These were some of the observations I reflected on after last weekend's big party - my first really gigantic social engagement in quite some time.

Now I remember why I took such a lengthy breather.

For one thing, in real life, I'm excruciatingly shy around strangers. If you ever want to find me at a party, you can check one of two places. First, the kitchen, where I'm usually washing dishes. It gives me something to do (besides talk to people I don't know), and it usually gets me invited back by a grateful host. (My friend Lissa, for example, had an exquisite holiday party. At least it sounded like it. All I know is her stove was gleaming by the time I left.) Second, if there's a dog, I will usually be found talking to him or her. My neighbors hosted an impeccably elegant brunch (until I got there) about a month ago - which was stopped dead when some busybody caught me feeding the Labradors "RIGHT off the GOOD silver!!" and took the opportunity to loudly rat me out to everyone in the room. (It was scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage-a favorite among all breeds- and I should point out that I had ONE fork for the dogs and a DIFFERENT one for myself. It's not as if we were SHARING the silver, so I don't know what the big deal was.)

Another reason for my social reticence is that it's been at least five years since I hosted a gathering where crowd control was an issue.

And frankly, I've lost my touch. So to speak.

Because you don't really want to be at a party quizzing your colleagues, "so whose job WAS it to blow the fire marshal?" right about the time your high-school English teacher (whom you haven't seen in 15 years) walks up behind you.

Long gone are the days when I could manage a simple engagement on my own. This particular occasion necessitated two lawyers, a liquor license, two teams of caterers, a notary public, an insurance rider, and complete hair/makeup/wardrobe assistance for me from a team of about 17.

Fortunately, I work in a building where the art department's motto is, "we have the technology. We can rebuild her. Better. Stronger. Faster."

Everyone here works with extreme military precision, and last Friday convinced me that they're thoroughly capable of invading a smallish third-world country if the need should arise.

At one point in the day, at least two of my colleagues could be seen dodging cars on Main Street- commando-style - attempting to conference call with me on my crappy cell phone (apparently serviced by only one tower in this hemisphere). I was, at that point, directing operations from a basement at the other end of Main Street (with foil in my hair, feet in the air, and cotton between my toes) barking "get me a land line. Get me a land line!!" and trying to resolve whether the staff needed to be at the police department or the government building.

Fortunately, they're easily identified when they're on maneuvers - they're the ones with the giant Nagasaki-size mushroom cloud of cigarette smoke billowing out of the sunroof. (That's how we know where to call in the air support.)

And all that was NOTHING compared to trying to find something to wear.

I very specifically had in mind a Richard Tyler-esque number (more specifically: with feathers).

I couldn't understand why this request met with such retail confusion until I finally realized the clerks thought I meant STEVEN Tyler... of Aerosmith.

Which I guess is why they kept bringing me those stacks of scarves and mesh pants - which I found, at least initially, mystifying.

I heard Armani actually pays certain people NOT to wear his clothes, and I'm thinking I could maybe work out a similar deal with Tyler (whereby I could retire very wealthy).

Ultimately, we decided it would be in bad taste to send the art department out to shoot birds so they could fashion me a garment for an animal-charity benefit.

Overall, I guess any party that ends with guests making out in the parking lot, staff curled in a fetal position on the floor, and film at 11 can be reasonably judged to be a success.

By the end of the weekend, my electronic husband, Walt, in Santa Fe (who's actually happily married) had sent about four emails wanting to know WHERE I was and WHAT I was doing and WITH WHOM, since we're rarely out of contact for more than 24 hours. I finally sent word "I have company-my pal Elle, from New York, not the guy you're thinking of. And SHE brought me a Kate Spade bag as a hostess gift, so right now, she's even higher on my houseguest list than he is."

To which he immediately responded, "What is a Kate Spade bag? Is it better than sex?"

And THAT's when I realized I'd aged out of the social scene.

Because I actually had to think before I answered.

Reality Truck will occasionally rotate in for sportspeak.