A few days ago I received an eVite for a "Passion Party," the latest in a seemingly endless number of home-based businesses encouraging suburban women to push crap on their friends, relatives and co-workers. Despite the genteel name, this one sells sex toys and similarly louche items in the context of "gals getting together for a night of sex talk and shopping." I can't remember the last time one of my friends dropped me a line to say, "Want to get together for drinks sometime?" I can, however, tell you exactly how many times I've been invited to shop-at-home parties over the past year (five), and I can guesstimate a similar number for the e-mail appeals to "sponsor me for charity" from the same people. Admittedly, this may just be a reflection on (a) my friends, (b) me, or (c) the reality of socializing in one's 30s and the conflicts that arise when some people have children and others don't. Maybe I just need new friends (in which case being here is a good start!). But I know people who either attend or host these things somewhat regularly, and it makes me wonder if this is a new form of socializing...a way for people who would otherwise be too busy to justify mere "hanging out" to somehow make it worth their while by incorporating the financial/free stuff aspect.

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Comment by Jasen on July 17, 2008 at 12:19pm
I think you're onto something, and it's the same reason I've been organizing bocce matches, bike rides, and boardgame nights for the last three years. There really are lower cost ways to interact with friends, but it seems like the transactions involved in selling something or fundraising confer some strange legitimacy that Americans need. Is it consumerism or that pesky Protestant work ethic requiring economic activity even in leisure? I couldn't tell ya, but there's some operative ethos behind the green curtain...

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