Dinner party makes for a big night out

Sometimes it's good to get out of the house and enjoy other people's company, and their food. Especially their food.

So we go off to a little dinner party, barely speaking to each other, my wife and I. Not sure what sparked the silent treatment. Might've been when I flippantly offered to give her driving lessons. Sometimes, I can be such an . . .

Anyway, we're off to a little dinner party.

"Where do they live?" Posh asks in the car.

" Toluca Lake," I say.

Toluca Lake, the city that never sleeps. Great place to get a milkshake, Toluca Lake, or make a movie. Lots of very good dry cleaners too. Allegedly, there is a lake there, though no one has ever seen it.

"It'll be a blast," I say.

We get a little too excited over dinner parties -- does it show?

We take too long picking out our clothes. We arrange baby-sitters far in advance. The way things are going, you never know when a particular dinner party might be your last.

"For me, a trip to the dentist is a social occasion," I explain to the host when we arrive.

"Come on, let's go sit," says our beautiful hostess.

In the living room, there is a salmon tartare, which I find a little undercooked but very delicious. In fact, this might be the best thing I have ever eaten. I show unusual restraint and limit myself to 2 pounds.

"Man, that was good," I say, just trying to keep the conversation rolling.

Here's the thing about my diet lately. Sometime last week, I missed a meal. Ever since, I have been one meal behind, so that when I finish a lunch, for example, I am still as hungry as if I never had lunch.

Fortunately, the food at this dinner party keeps coming. The gumbo is masterful, dark as mahogany. The crab cakes light and very rich. I fight the urge to shovel the crab cakes into my face with both hands. The way things are going, you never know when it might be your last crab cake.

"Here, try this fork," the hostess says, handing me a silvery utensil with prongs on the very end.

"Thanks," I say.

The last dinner party we attended was not that long ago, 1997. Before that, I think our last dinner party was when we lived in New Orleans during the '80s.

The problem is that we never reciprocate, never. I just can't get used to the idea of bringing good friends into the house and having our pot-bellied pig/beagle jump into their laps. Posh's best dinner party dish is something she calls "Stuff on a Plate." It's an old Army recipe, dating to the Allied occupation of Europe.

Yet, when we are invited to other places, we are earnest guests. I'm so happy to be out of the house that I sit on the edge of my seat, my face all shiny-Irish and beaming like a lightbulb.