Congratulations on your successful relocation. I know you’re feeling a little lonely out here, but the easiest way to settle in is to throw a party. I understand your new neighbourhood is a diverse one, so I’m here to help you ensure that everybody is comfortable and catered for. Start by picking the right time and date – avoid any hours or days during which your guests might be allergic to prevailing light conditions, committed to annual appearances, or generally too busy with their afterlives. Don’t even think about a full moon bash.
Next, take into account dietary preferences and restrictions. Finger food is generally a good way to go – and do take that literally. A sit-down dinner won’t let your guests float around freely. Contrary to what you might have heard, this crowd does enjoy sophisticated twists when it comes to beverages. For a nominal extra fee, I will throw in my bestselling book on the subject, which includes recipes such as the delicious likes of Bloodorange Martini, Non-Symbolic Eucharist and Very Bloody Mary. Please serve in pre-chilled glasses, okay? Fresh cadavers are so retro.
Something to not take literally, however, is your role of host. You are hosting a party, not letting your body be the host of another entity. Capiche? All meanings apply. Also, no matter how unholy a racket gets raised, don’t snort any powder you notice. It will make you see Tinkerbell. No, really. That minx is not to be trifled with. Remember: the guests are there for fun, but your job is to keep your head on. Decapitation messes up the mood – and your carpets – big time.
As your new home is in highly recognizable surroundings, there are wont to be troublemakers, some of whom may show up on your doorstep on the basis of dares, Dutch courage or to disprove the very existence of the company you’re keeping. They will make lovely takeaway gifts: just cut them down to size, giftwrap, and leave on a tray by the door. Remember to confiscate any garlic they may be carrying. You may serve it to any guests suffering from the eating disorder commonly known as vegetarianism.
Some entertainment is always a good idea, otherwise your guests will simply stand around and nibble on each other when the appetizers are through, which is all well and good but this isn’t high school anymore. Depending on the feel of the gathering, arrange to have some nice music playing. No, neither “I’ve Put A Spell On You” nor “Alligator Wine” are appropriate. What’s wrong with you: do you want to get turned into a toad or something? When in doubt, go with Enya. That rule applies even in these parts.
If you’re a “full of life” sort – and I’m duty-bound to remind you that most of your guests fall firmly outside that category – you might want to take it a step further. Arrange for some games. Monopoly takes an eternity – but we’ve got that, don’t we? Or a piñata might be nice. I know just the right person to string up.
I hope your welcome party goes splendidly. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. Did I also mention that I specialize in funeral rites and resurrection ceremonies? Haven’t heard of those? You will. Here, have a brochure…
An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express. “The Venus Flytrap” is my column in the Zeitgeist supplement. Previous columns can be found here.