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January 6, 2004
The dinner was held in a crowded Turkish restaurant, its Middle Eastern-ness conveyed through permanently installed Christmas lights. These drooped like spent balloons from a stained tent over the parking lot. I suspected (rightly) that the floor of the tent would be Astroturf—that matted fake grass that seemed so new in the seventies, when the Astrodome was the height of human endeavor. This was my first outing post-Peter where the group of strangers wasn't so large that I could avoid all conversation, or limply discuss only the odd Christmas day rain before turning away to start a new discussion.