"Anyone who uses words such as 'parameters' and 'interface' should never be invited to a dinner party," says TV's Dick Cavett, who has made a living of conversation.
That's not a bad resolution for 1982, although the ban also should include anyone who accepts an invitation by saying he has "a window that evening between 6 and 9 o'clock"; refers to the current economic program as being "highly scenario dependent"; worries whether the military is keeping up "threat maintenance" or follows in the footsteps of Alexander Haig by exercising "careful caution."
Such conversation-killers should be dropped from dinner party lists, along with people who never bother to RSVP. Guests can retaliate by avoiding parties given by people who interrupt adult conversation so everyone can hear what their 4-year-old thinks, and refusing all dinner invitations from people who practice the austerity of nouvelle cuisine.
Washington host/esses can resolve to encourage their guests to flirt not only with foreign policy but with each other, and to give at least one dinner party during the year where any time politics is mentioned, the speaker is fined a quarter (and, if it fails, as it probably will, at least the party will be paid for).
Actually, the best resolution would be to buy a copy of Brillat-Savarin's Psychology of Taste, turn to his Meditation on The Pleasures of the Table, and try in 1982 to follow his advice on attaining "the ultimate pleasures of the table":
"Let the number of guests be no more than 12, so that conversation may always remain general;
"Let them be so chosen that their professions will be varied, their tastes analogous, and that there be such points of contact that the odious formality of introductions will not be needed;
"Let the dining room be more than amply lighted, the linens of dazzling cleanliness, and the temperature maintained at from 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. (By amply lighted, Brillat-Savarin did not mean the glare of overhead lighting that some hosts provide today. Remember, he wrote at a time when light was provided by candles. Follow his precept that the room be amply lighted, but also follow his method: Use candles.);
"Let the gentlemen be witty without pretension, and the ladies charming without too much coquetry;
"Let the dishes be of exquisite quality, but limited in their number, and the wines of the first rank also, each according to its degree;
"Let the progression of the former be from the most substantial to the lightest, and of the latter from the simplest to the headiest;
"Let the tempo of eating be moderate, the dinner being the last affair of the day: The guests should behave like travelers who must arrive together at the same destination . . .
"Let the leavetakings not begin before 11 o'clock, but by midnight let every guest be home and abed."
Except of course, for Thursday night, the last day of 1981 and a time to ignore all such resolutions