Never Cool Enough...Or At All
My friend Amanda Davis, who died almost two years ago in the world's stupidest plane crash, was the most exciting, warm-hearted, delightfully bitchy person I know. When she was killed, there was a massive outpouring of agony and love. People from all over the country, most of them writers, posted letters about her, about how amazing she was, how funny, how quirky, how she was their best friend.
One of the things I loved most about Amanda was the ribbon of insecurity that ran through her personality -- so similar to my own. She was always suspicious that there was a party out there that she wasn't invited to. When she died and became the party, with people actually mourning the fact that they hadn't come to know her well enough to write one of those painful, funny, longing posts, it was a beautiful irony. The geeky girl makes good. Well, except for the going down in a ball of fire part.
I thought of Amanda today, when I read the Sunday Styles section of the Times. That part of the paper exists to make me feel out of it, and at the same time to make me feel disgusted with myself for wanted be part of it. I mean, why in God's name would anyone want to spend Christmas in St. Bart's with a load of Manhattan social Xrays? Can you imagine the conversation? "Oh, I'd only ever allow Svetlana to do my Brazilians. She's just so much more interesting than any of the other women who've made their livings yanking pubic hairs from around my anus. And I hear she does Paris Hilton, too." Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they spend their beach hours discussing Vladimir Nabokov's lectures on Russian literature and arguing about his analysis of Gogol's Dead Souls.
And let's not even discuss the wedding announcements.
In today's paper there's a piece about the National Arts Club, and the Boho Hip crowd hanging at the Accompanied Library. I'm reading about the gatherings to fete LFL, Jhumpa Lahiri and Waris (Chelsea art gallery, Pulitzer Prize-winning short story writer, and "actor/jeweler" who appears in Wes Anderson's new movie. And don't worry, I had no idea who the first and third in the list were, either) and I'm feeling this intense sense of "why am I so uncool?" It's the same feeling I got when Dierdre Brown and Ginny Scott told me I couldn't sit at their lunch table anymore, because I was such a loser that I was ruining their precarious reputations. That, by the way, was in 7th Grade. Yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday, so sue me.
The thing is, if I actually were invited to one of those events, or to Dierdre and Ginny's lunch table, for that matter, I'd probably end up at such a loss that I'd spend the whole time trolling for the perfect hors d'oeuvre. I suck at parties, and what in God's name would I talk to a 26 year-old socially adept socialite about? Literature? Kids? Um. Probably not. In situations like that -- cocktail parties -- I somehow always end up turning the conversation to obscure medical conditions. You and I may have nothing in common, but your recent gynecological surgery is bound to make me perk up my ears. When Michael and I are doing our party-post-mortem he says things like, "He was the youngest conductor in the Boston Symphony's history" and I say things like, "By the time they took it out of her, it was the size of a canteloupe!"
I really suck at parties.
Every once in a while someone fabulous tries to make Michael's acquaintance. Usually it's a fascinating gay man, some hot young playwright or grafitti artist. They swoop us into their social orbit for a few days or months. I get all excited. Now! Now I will finally be cool. It never lasts for long. Because at some point they realize that this long-haired dude is not only straight,but he's married not to someone like Sofia Coppola, but to me.