Announce that the evening is special by preparing a different drink before dinner. Instead of the ever-present white wine, make champagne cocktails, or serve small glasses of iced, flavored vodka, or martinis, served very cold in long stemmed glasses. Just one. You want to arouse desire, not stun it.

Avoid messy or difficult foods. What worked in the movie "Tom Jones" will not necessarily work in your dining room. No artichokes with their pile of leftover leaves; no corn on the cob; no oysters--unless you can afford to hire someone to stay in the kitchen and open them. And no heavy, hard-to-digest foods.

Condense the courses. You don't want to keep disappearing into the kitchen.

Do not--woman or man--offer to help. The role he/she envisions for you is not in the kitchen.

Buy a book of poems by a poet the other admires. Ask him/her to read a favorite poem. Nothing seduces like the sound of one's own voice.

Find out your partner's favorite song. Play it several times during the evening. By the end of the meal, it will have become "Our Song." ENTERTAINING: Dinners of Seduction ---By Susan Dooley

It was a starry, starry night and out on the terrace a table had been set for two, candles placed to cast a romantic glow rather than illuminate. It was a Seduction Dinner, and it all went wrong.

She arrived, looking lovely and not unwilling, and he led her out onto the terrace where he plied her with drink, not a light white wine or a dry vermouth or a bottle of chilled champagne, but a heavy, sticky-sweet cream sherry.

She emptied her glass. He filled it, talking of this and that, and filled it again and again, until his companion made a whimper which sounded like "Food?" Of course there was food, a steak to be grilled the instant the coals were ready. Which, after an hour and a great deal of smoke, were.

Black on the outside, dry on the inside, the steak was accompanied by a full-bodied red wine which sat heavily on the cream sherry. But never mind. There was a chocolate torte for dessert, and a fine cognac. After clearing the dessert plates, our seducer put a Billie Holiday record on the phonograph and held out his arms for a dance. She rose. He pulled her against him and she--her belly burning with charred steak and cream sherry, with chocolate and red wine and cognac--gave him a helpless, horrified look, muttered a thank you and fled.

The seduction had failed because the young man had used the dinner as a bludgeon to beat her into bed, instead of offering a delicate lure to romance. Bludgeons only work in the hands of people of infinite cunning, like the Washington man who insists that the seduction dinners he planned in the past were as successful as they were appalling.

"I'd buy some chopped beef and I'd serve that with a tomato sauce, fairly heavy on the garlic and salt, on top of spaghetti. With that, I would serve baked beans. Then I'd get large quantities of French table wine--a cut above the spaghetti, but only just.

"I would pour the stuff down the throat of said victim. I used lots of salt and garlic so she'd be thirsty and drink lots of wine. It was hand grenade material, and it always worked. It also assured they would never come back and would want to cook for me next time.

"The other seduction dinner I would do was to stuff a chicken with tarragon butter and stick it in the oven. Then I would pick up the girl and take her for a walk. We'd walk for miles, ending up near my house at about the time the chicken would be done. By this time the girl would be ravenously hungry and terribly tired, so when I mentioned I had a chicken in the oven, she'd be delighted to come in. After she'd bolted down the chicken and the wine, all she'd want to do was sleep. I would very generously say, 'Oh, you must take my bed.'

"The only problem with that approach was the chicken was good enough so she'd want to come back for another dinner."

And had he himself ever been led astray by a dinner a' deux?

"If you wanted to seduce me, you'd have to serve a better meal than my beef," he conceded, before pausing to consider the fact that though his hand grenades had served their purpose, they hadn't inspired any reciprocal invitations.

"No one's ever made me a seduction dinner," he was forced to admit. "I suppose if someone did, anything would work--even a lettuce leaf."

Caviar comes from the virgin sturgeon.

Virgin sturgeon very fine fish.

Virgin sturgeon needs no urgin'

That's why caviar is my dish.

And that's why, explains another man whose seduction dinner is considerably kinder to his partner's stomach, he tops what would otherwise be a nursery dish with large spoonfuls of black caviar.

His seduction dinner has the virtue of requiring no advance preparation and being made of ingredients that can be kept on hand. It also does not require great culinary skills. If the urge to merge or merely impress comes upon him, he can whip up dinner in half an hour. He makes custardy scrambled eggs, mixing the eggs with milk or cream and cooking them very slowly in a saucepan, stirring constantly until they set. He spoons the eggs onto buttered toast and mounds the caviar on top. Add a bottle of wine and he has a meal that soothes as it seduces.

"I made the menu much too complicated," said a woman who planned a dinner to turn a platonic relationship into a romance. "Oysters--a traditional aphrodisiac--to start. But by the time I opened a dozen oysters my hands were bleeding and I was wrapped in bandages. The next course should have been no trouble at all--medallions of veal. But he was so sympathetic about my bleeding fingers, that the seduction was taking place before dinner, not after it, and he was seducing me.

"That, after all, was the point, but it ruined the rest of the meal."