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.