"The nature of parties has been imperfectly studied," Nobel Prize-winning writer John Steinbeck once wrote in his classic novella, Cannery Row. "It is, however, generally understood that a party has a pathology, that it is a kind of individual and that it is likely to be a very perverse individual."

Now, Steinbeck was no Hemingway, but he still knew how to rage. He drank, smoked, caroused, and womanized with the best of them. He knew his stuff. Parties are perverse; they twist and turn demonically, spitting beer-tinged vomit, ravaging innocent homes with horrible, stumbling force. And yet, as winter approaches and the days grow short, the need to party becomes ever greater. Why? Because the darkening months of fall and winter are depressing. Long, cold nights are depressing. Raking leaves, shoveling snow, shopping for presents, killing turkeys, chopping down innocent Christmas trees... it's all depressing, and there's no better way to deal with depression than to drown it in an endless river of debauchery. Steinbeck knew about depression; he wrote the most famous novel about depression there is--The Big Depression, or something like that--and when he was done writing it, you can bet he went right out and partied like it was 1939.

The point is, it's only a matter of time before you get depressed, and it would be a shame if you let the fear of party perversion stop you from lifting your spirits with a bout of good ol'-fashioned gettin' down. You will never tame the wild beast. Don't expect to. "It is also generally understood," Steinbeck continues in Row, "that a party hardly ever goes the way it is planned or intended." The animal is going to attack, it's only a matter of time. But that's the fun of it; it rolls you around, roughs you up, and leaves you tougher as a result. Best of all, it has fun with you before it leaves; it seduces you, and the seduction is good.

So remember the words of Pimp Daddy Steinbeck, and then plan your own party. Debauchery, pathos, and most of all, perversion, are not only par for the par-tay course, but have been officially endorsed by a bona fide literary genius. Embrace them like you would your own mother. (And by the way, if you don't embrace your own mother, don't you think it's time you did? It would make her day.)