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A Private New York New Year's Eve Dinner Party in California: Let Me Explain!

“For my New Years Resolution I was going to quit all my bad habits until I remembered nobody likes a quitter.” ?

My wife Cecile and I were invited to attend an Italian dinner party with promises of lots of good wine and dancing to the music of the 50s and 60s by DJ Gary Carnes. The Organizers were three delightful energetic ladies: Anne Cummins, Connie Palladino, and Cindy Gum.

It was scheduled to take place at 6-10 PM at “The Clubhouse” at Rinconada Hills, Los Gatos, CA, the gated community we live in. The time was set to coincide with New York EST. We would be watching the countdown to the start of the New Year, the ball drop and the anticipated sparkling fireworks on the Big Screen TV. All this without having to stay up past midnight and face the frigid cold front hitting the eastern seaboard.

When we sent in our RSVP almost a month ago, we had planned to reserve a table with a group of friends. We were so grateful we wouldn't have to drive on the busiest day of the year as we live about a thousand feet from the Clubhouse. The problem was Cecile and I didn’t want to attend as we were still on an emotional rollercoaster from losing my dad and attending his funeral in NJ. But, after taking an energy restoring nap, we decided to be with friends rather than stay home alone. We were happy we did.

We walked the winding path to the Clubhouse with the perimeter Pagoda lights and a Full Moon lighting our way along the pond and cascading waterfall, and the tennis courts leading up to the majestic palm trees, where we made our entrance. The party was limited to 60 people which made it very intimate. There was a wine bar tended by our neighbor John Palladino who was opening a bottle of champagne as the clock behind him was about to strike 7 PM. The night was still young, even though those of us attending were not. “Not that there is anything wrong with that,” as Seinfeld would say.

Italian appetizers such as homemade bread sticks, stuffed mushrooms and antipasto were being brought around by the servers. We took our seats at a table that included our friends and neighbors, Susan and Nelson Bye, their friends Diana and Norm and our long time friends and neighbors, Marleen and Mark Brodsky. The buffet dinner included Chicken Caesar Salad, a Vegetarian salad, meat and Vegetable Lasagna, and Tiramisu, one my favorite desserts.

The lasagne made me reflect upon my late dad. He was an extraordinary cook and made a killer lasagna in his day. I was the self-appointed photographer for the evening, something I enjoy doing. I took photos of everyone at our table and of neighbors and friends scattered around the room like Sue Sullivan, Barry Gotlieb and others.

After dessert, DJ Gary Carnes began singing and playing songs to dance by. Our friends Mark and Marleen were the ones to watch. They have taken many dance lessons over the years. Not just any lessons. They took lessons with one of the finest female dancers on the hit show: “Dancing with the Stars.” I got to dance “The Twist” with Marleen, so I guess you can say I was only two degrees of separation from dancing with a "television star." My wife says I’m stretching the story line. But I’m from the school of Mark Twain, who once said: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” ?

Even though Mark and I go way back (Mark Brodsky that is, not Mark Twain), I’m not sure he liked me dancing with his wife Marleen. While taking a photo of him and Nelson Bye in front of the Christmas Tree, Mark went all "Bruce Lee" on me. Look closely at the way Mark thrusts his left arm and fist forward, while aiming his champagne glass at me with his right hand. I thought I was a “gonner.” ?

As I scanned the room I noticed there were some guests wearing some interesting and colorful evening wear. There was Cathy shown here in a black dress with a wide plum collared jacket with brocade overlay; and Connie with a red insulated puffer vest with snaps over a black sweater. Then there was the distinguished looking Stewart Mellis McIntosh wearing a classic Scottish outfit that would make the retired Scottish actor Sean Connery green with envy. As the saying goes never call it a skirt or you’ll get “KILT,” so I didn't. Stewart’s lovely wife Nancy complemented her husband by wearing a black pants suit with a colorful red plaid jacket with eye-catching black cross-straps. champagne color cocktail party collections

To say a lot of drinking was going on would be an understatement. But, hey! It was New Year's Eve. So I’ll end with a popular Scottish proverb: “Alcohol does not solve any problem, but then neither does milk.”