Mr. Chatterbox

By staff April 1, 2007

Well, here it is. Another social season. Parties every night, sometimes two or three. It’s gotten so bad that a new term is entering the vocabulary of socialites and party planners: "event fatigue." Some of us, it seems, are so exhausted by party going that we are actually staying home and watching CSI or American Idol. Shame!

I admit I was falling into that trap a little myself, until the boss demanded that I get out there and do my job, which, as far as I can figure out, seems to be stroking the egos of the rich. Well, OK. I’m up to it. I’ve dived headfirst back into the social swim.

It’s amazing how much it’s changed over the years. Now we have "niche" social life. You’re in one group but not another. We even have "niche" social columnists, each with his or her own little sphere of influence. Here’s the rundown.

First of all there are the old-timers. I’m not talking about Marjorie North, who’s in a niche all by herself, but rather people like Joan Griffith and the Lillys. Joan, of course, has been around forever, having inherited her column from her mother, Helen. What a life she’s had. The other night she showed me some jewels that had been given her by P.T. Barnum. (Maybe it was John Ringling. Somebody like that.) And Don Lilly. What do you think he does with all that video? I hope he’s planning a "bloopers" tape. It sure would be great to relive some moments from the past, like the time Jay Handelman forgot to wear his special "astronaut diapers" to that real long play. Or the time Vern Buchanan tripped over that sack of money. Or the time Kathy Dent promised to be fair and impartial.

Covering the younger set is Emily Walsh Parry—she just got married!—and I must say, what a breath of fresh air. The thing I like best about her is that she truly respects her elders. Not like the rest of that younger crowd. They barely give me the time of day. Not that I care. Who wants to go their stupid parties, anyway?

Marjorie has hit upon the perfect solution. She’s hired her daughters! Yes, continuing the local tradition of passing columns down through the generations, she now has daughters Laura and Angie out there covering parties where you have to stand a lot or where the food isn’t any good.

And where do I fit in? I’ve carved out my own special niche. I cover the geezers. The real old pros who have been doing it for years and now are at the peak of their powers. They’ve got it down pat. There is something magnificent about the way they entertain for charity. Take the Kanes, for instance.

They recently had a kickoff party for the Y’s Going for the Gold gala, which is coming up in May and is one of the biggest parties of the year, and everything was perfect. The first thing you saw as you entered was Katherine Harris, a local legend if there ever were one. Unfortunately, Katherine was running off to be honored by the Kiwanis as the Person of the Year. Marjorie was also running off—she had to roast Mike Pender—but there were plenty of other notables, and the food was incredible. I chatted with Myrna Band, who told me that three of her sons were all getting married within a three-month period, one right after another. Now they’ve got to schlep from Paris to Israel to Philadelphia. (Also getting married, Tom Luzier and Allison Beard. And Michael Klauber and Terri Shea just "tied the knot" in Aspen. It’s good to know that even in times of war and global warming people are still getting married.)

But there was no rest for the wicked. The very next night I was back in a tuxedo, which I "dressed down" with a pug T-shirt, and off to the Hyatt for the annual Best in Show gala to benefit the Animal Rescue Coalition. Many of the same old geezers were there, plus some new ones like Roy Palmer, who made terrible fun of my T-shirt. Also present: Michael Saunders, whom no one could ever describe as a geezer. In fact, I think she’s lost weight. True, she is our biggest advertiser, but still—the stately way she carried herself, the alluring poise of her every gesture, the gorgeous gown, a billowy column of black chiffon accented by an aquamarine pendant. Brava!

The ARC party was notable for several reasons. First of all, Lee and Ira Barsky announced they were donating $50,000 in memory of their cat, Phuket, who recently passed away at age 12. This was a very tearful and emotional moment, though, as Rita Greenbaum whispered to me, "I sure hope their kids don’t find out." Then it was time for the cancan. Yes. It seems the committee women and their friends decided to liven things up with an elaborately costumed and produced cancan routine, performed by themselves. Those of us who witnessed it will never forget it. A misstep in a chorus line has a sort of domino effect, and I guess the floor must have been slippery. All I can say is, I hope Don Lilly got it on tape.

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