In spite of all that I learned in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, to this day when I get ready for parties, I picture a best-case scenario. There will be a permanent underscoring of laughter and light jazz. Everyone will find instant familiarity, gripping each others' shoulders and forearms, performing double cheek kisses, like a bunch of vital Europeans.
In my ideal world, charades and other Victorian party games evolve naturally. No one has to explain the rules, and everyone is delighted when I act out Titanic by pretending I'm standing on the bow of a ship. Conversation feels less like talking and more like confession, even revelation. No topic will be too shallow, or too profound. There might even be a sing-along.
In my ideal world, we are all confident in ourselves, and for this reason we can be light, generous, and open with sharing who we are.
"I wish I had your hair," says my best friend Becky as we both stare into her bathroom mirror. We...