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January 12, 2006

24-Hour Party People

http://www.jewishjournal.com/singles/article/24hour_party_people_20060113

There's a guy in line behind me whose name I can't remember but who is a good friend of a 50-year-old I once dated whose name I also can't remember, which is kind of ironic -- I stopped dating him because he's too old, and it's my memory that's failing.

But that's neither here nor there tonight as we wait outside in the wet foggy cold for one last winter holiday party. While something like 80 percent of Americans are enjoying their eggnog and recovering from time spent with their dysfunctional families, we Jews are smushing into a West Hollywood hotspot.

I'm here with my friend Jon, my former trainer, whom I'd "won" at a Jewish Federation auction. It's a good thing he's with me because that will help me get through meeting every guy whose name I can't remember. ("This is Jon," I will say, hoping the other person will then introduce himself.) Jon also is on hand to shield me, as needed, from the plethora of men here.

There's 1,000 people, a fair amount of sleaze, and I'm almost afraid to walk alone in the throngs. The ratio is 2-to-1 men. Still, I confess I'm happy with the crowd. Sometimes it's nice to go to a Jew party in Hollywood: Among the short, the dark-haired, the rhythmically challenged, I might rate a 9, as opposed to a mere 6 among the Amazonians of Shiksaville.

Jon gestures over to a Steve Wright-look-alike at the bar.

"There's that frizzy-haired guy we see at every party," he says disdainfully.

Just then it hits me: If we see Frizzy-Haired Guy at every party, doesn't that mean that he sees us at every party? Am I the type of person who is at every single party? It's true that I've already been to the Progressive Jewish Alliance party, and will probably also attend the Chabad, Kabbalah Centre and various house parties, but does someone walk into a party, spot me, and say, "Oh no, she's here; I guess it's that kind of party?"

I see other familiar faces, too. There's the Israeli guy I walked out on at my date at the Coffee Bean. There's this girl whose e-vites and e-mails I've been assiduously avoiding for years. There's that NRA sympathizer whom I got into a fight with at a Shabbat meal. And there are also my friends, lots of them, and we gather in the less-crowded rooms upstairs for some air. It seems one of those nights when there are so many people -- too many people -- no one will meet a soul, so you might as well just have fun.

"Let's play a drinking game," I tell my friends. "For every person whose picture you've seen on JDate, take one sip."

My friend Tom pipes in: "For every girl -- or guy -- you've gone out with, that's two sips."

"What about people you've slept with?" Tom's friend asks.

"That's a whole drink, my friend," Tom says.

"As long as you're driving me home," he replies.

"What about a girl you've gotten a marriage proposal from?" Eric asks me quietly as the others scope the room. It turns out that this woman -- he once went out with her, sort of -- cornered him a few minutes ago and told him she thinks she loves him and wants to marry him.

"I think you've automatically won the game," I tell him.

Just then Sharon walks by.

"Hey Eric, do you know Sharon?"

They do that dumb thing where they act like they don't know each other because they obviously do, and Eric shoots me a look.

Too late I realize that this is the girl who cornered him. But I know her. I know she was probably drunk and probably kidding -- but still I see how that kind of situation might be a little "Fatal Attraction."

Enough games. It's time to head downstairs again, where Jon and I dance for half a song at a time till the DJ ruins perfectly good '80s music with cuts of house music (are we so old?). By about 2 a.m., Jon and his friend want to leave, but I haven't met one new person all night. I have a rule of three: Three new guys a party.

Someone is taking a picture of me. So I go over and introduce myself. Conversation runs dry like a martini, but still, that's No. 1.

Israeli guy comes over with his friends; he's forgiven me for running out on our date -- actually, I think he likes me more -- but he introduces me to his South African friend. That's No. 2.

I'm tired. I sit down -- my heels have only a four-hour standing time on them. Then a guy named David approaches. Unfortunately he's wearing a chain, but still, he's No. 3.

Jon and his friend and I head to a deli for a post-mortem on the party: it looks like quite a number of others are there doing the same thing. Around California the holidays are winding down, but could it be that for us Jews, the fun times have only just begun?

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