Sunday, October 30, 2005

How many in your party?

When one reserves a table at a restaurant, one thereby enters into a sort of contract, and a contract must have "parties" to it, people who take part in making and keeping it. There are legal and political definitions of "party," and others, which could be mistaken with predictably amusing results: A Soviet diplomat newly arrived in Washington, DC, made a reservation at a fashionable Washington restaurant, and was asked how many people were in his party. The surprised diplomat replied, "Seventeen million."

(This is adapted from an article on the conceptual history of "party")

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