The Soiree Lass

Are You the Keymaster? I am the Gatekeeper!

It can be tough writing an entertainment column every single week! Even if you love entertaining as much as I do—and have the Jell-O molds, cupcake tins and novelty ice cube trays to prove it!—there are times when you just don't have any advice left in you on how to throw a party. You've already exhausted the venerable party themes of Dia de los Muertos and corn. Really, what else is there after corn?

Well, just in time for Christmas, my editor came to me with a suggestion. "How about a column on a key party?" she asked, with just the sweetest little giggle. "What's a key party?" I asked back, because if there's a party I don't know about, I will know about it, and pronto! More importantly, where could I get some key-shaped cupcake tins?

"Just watch The Ice Storm," she said, with a twinkly smile.

I sat down with my hubby and a big bowl of popcorn. (For an added treat, try sprinkling your popcorn with some freshly picked rosemary! It's elegantly pungent! For real!) We watched for a few minutes as John Cusack bumbled about some Christmas crime or other. This wasn't The Ice Storm! This was The Ice Harvest! Who would watch a piece of crap like this? But it did take me back to some days of yore, when—true story—I was sitting around the Malibu Inn with my boyfriend at the time, and John Cusack was absolutely tore up on party powder! He had this marvelously adorable little blond girlfriend (an editor at a fashion magazine) who was hanging all over him trying to get his attention, while he was ignoring her in favor of hanging all over a huge musclehead man, groping his waist and his pecs and simply fawning on him with his hands, before asking me and my then-boyfriend if we had a line on any party powder of our own. Did we ever! But the night ended without a big old John Cusack five-way, as my boyfriend's Christmas snow connection wasn't returning his pages.

A pager! Can you imagine now, what it was like at the time to get paged and then have to find a pay phone? Hey! We should have a 1983 party! We can all get checks cashed at the grocery store (no ATM cards yet, ha ha!) to buy some baking soda and lighter fluid and whatever other ingredients one needed in 1983. Tee hee!

Well, I hadn't gone to the video store, seeing that Ice Harvest, which I mistook for Ice Storm, was on HBO, so the hubby and I watched Studio 60 instead. What a colossal piece of shit that show is, huh? A show about Saturday Night Live that's about as funny as the real thing. Good Christ!

So I never did find out what a key party was. I would have to improvise, which—ta da!—is what I do! We would have a Ghost Busters theme—Are you the Keymaster? I am the Gatekeeper!—with creepy monsters and spider webs and edible slime! (Just flour and Jell-O, chilled 20 minutes!) Oh, how I loved that Dr. Egon, played so drolly by Mr. Harold Ramis!

And oh, how well it worked!

I invited 10 of my favorite couples with adorable invitations in the shape of a gaping lock, festooned with chains. (Never scrimp on your invitations—or, sweet Jesus, go the Evite route. Your invite sets the tone for your entire fete!) As soon as my guests arrived—and the invitations must have been perfect, because I've never seen such an enthusiastic lot, and they were all festooned with chains themselves!—I put them to work, as always. Screw Miss Manners, that washed-up old hag! If you can't ask your guests to cook your food, bus your tables and wash the dishes, who can you ask? "You're really cracking the whip tonight, huh?" my male guests asked. "Well, of course I am, silly!" I replied, and then I took the whip off my belt and cracked it again. People love a good whip trick.

I'd asked all my guests to bring a dish, but in this case I should have been a lot more specific: every single one of them brought oysters, which didn't go with the strawberry-flavored edible slime but at all. (And I only have one oyster-shaped tray!) Luckily, I'd made cookies, and have enough cookie-shaped trays to hold five dozen. Cookie Monster, that's me!

Well, the oysters must have been working their magic, because there was an awful lot of petting going on—with people who were not certain people's wives, if you know what I mean. I walked up to my bedroom to fetch my Icing Magic kit to make a little garland for the oyster-shaped tray out of a paste of basil, rosemary and mint that I keep growing in my kitchen window (I don't know what Hubby was doing with the Icing Magic kit up there) and found four couples huffing from whipped cream cans and fucking like moose!

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