You may have to depend, instead, on your refrigerator. The next time Perfection waltzes into your life, whip up a little Nouveau-Deco dinner.

You'll have to improvise most of the decor (unless you happen to have a dark blue mirror table). Use a navy or burgundy or smoke-colored tablecloth (solid, not patterned). Instead of napkins, buy a pair of white cotton gloves from the dime store: You may either lay them flat beside the plate, thumbs in, with the fingers curled around the silverware, set all together in this case; or, if the plates are dark enough, directly on top. In that case, place a rose on the guest's glove and turn the thumb back over the stem.

Get an old top hat from a classic clothes store. If you don't have any dark, deco-ish vases, use the hat as a cachepot for the centerpiece. (A high-heeled slipper could hold an orchid or a couple of silk flowers.) Otherwise, fill a couple of heavy Zip-loc bags with ice and turn it into a champagne cooler.

You need good hands to pull off this dinner. Indulge in a manicure, both of you (if Paul Heinreid had revealed his ragged nails, Bette Davis would have blown him away with the match). Use scent, both of you (very conservatively). And for God's sake, look languid.

What's what: Cole Porter. Brimmed hats. A formal shirt -- with starch, even if you leave the collar unbuttoned and the black tie loose. Or a collar bar, if you keep it closed. Knee-high black socks (nothing looks worse than wrinkled ankles except bare skin twixt hose and hem). Cigarettes in a pocket case or box; lighters, not matches. Seamed or veil-dotted stockings. Face powder.

What's not: Unpolished shoes. Brown shoes. An unpressed handkerchief. Fruit in the drinks (a sugar cube dipped in bitters is acceptable, a cherry is abominable). Stainless steel. Marked salt and pepper shakers.

The food must be indulgent, but delicate-double entendre is what separates decadence from decline. Generally speaking, red meat is too heavy; however, you might pound thin-sliced lamb into pseudo-scallopine, then saute' it with a little butter and Grand Marnier and orange rounds, peel intact (that little bit of bitter is the wolf in the lamb's clothing). Serve with real wild rice, or if you can only get Uncle Ben's, don't use the seasoning packet -- too beefy.

Game fowl is a good choice, unusual but not too far from innocent. Use only the breast meat from goose or wild duck, marinated and broiled lightly. With smaller fowl, bone the whole bird and stuff it back into shape. Try a couple of cornish hens or, if you have small hands, quail or pheasant. They are more pliable at room temperature, and easier on your skin. Work slowly and speak gently to yourself. Use a sharp knife, moving down the backbone and ribcage in a slow spiral, scraping the blade against the bone. Leave the leg and wing bones intact. Then stuff the birds no more than three-quarters full, sew up both ends and braise. Serve with whole heads of Belgian endive, softened by a moment's saute'ing in butter, then braised alongside the birds.

Sorbet would be the best dessert, but dark chocolate-covered raspberries would be a highly creditable substitute. Offer cognac, but have enough champagne chilled to continue. Then begin the beguine.