Last Saturday, I put on a sparkling mini dress and strapped high-heels sandals, then convinced my hubby to drive me to a Hamptons party. I also pleaded with him to hang around as my arm-candy. How could I miss one of those glittering events that would be mentioned in the gossip columns and photos of its star attendees would be posted in tabloids?
The lines of cars waiting to get into the mansion’s vast parking lot snaked over a mile. We turned around and parked on the sidewalk at the other end and just walked the fifty yards, surprising the battery of professional greeters and security guards, unaccustomed to walkers. We had sent in our RSVP, therefore it took only six people to check us in before we were permitted into the mansion’s grounds.
Our host was a wealthy mid-forty bachelor billionaire who looked twenty years older. His co-party host was an aging African-American celebrity. Between the two of them, they invited several hundred guests, 95% of whom were under the age of 30.
Particularly striking was the women-to-men ratio of 4:1. Or perhaps even more striking was the fact that two-thirds of these women were six-feet tall and weighed about 90 lbs. OK, maybe some reached 110 lbs, 80% of which were the long-long legs. There were more long legs strutting about than I had seen in my entire life combined.
It took me a while to figure out that my host invited the entire female population represented by a few model agencies. I spotted the buses that brought these girls from New York City. They had come to the Big Apple from Iowa or Alabama in search of a modeling career. Those arriving at the party had already received their big breaks: They had signed up with some top NYC agents. I tried to see through their young, easily impressed eyes the magnificent grounds lit by incandescent lights, the huge open tent, the tables laden with foods that was replenished, the live band, the waiters circulating trays with dainty appetizers, the four well- stocked bars …. Silent message of money dripped from each tree branch.
The men at the party, though, were short-stature, pitiful in their attempts to reach the beauties’ shoulders. No male models, no Greek Gods. Chatting with some, I learned that they were operators, agents, event organizers, photographers disco owners, and stylists. The better-looking among them were gay. The heterosexual men swayed on the dance floor with the music, chattered in the friendliest voice they could muster, trying to charm the fawns on skinny legs with rehearsed clever lines.
Soon, the queues at the bar become longer, and the barmen lost their composure at the onslaught. The cute guy who had mixed my appletini earlier, could now only pour me Veuve Cliquot.
Last year, at the same party, I had engaged in conversations with two gay men, one claimed to be a film producer and promised to sign an option for one of my novels. The other had declared that for me he would cheat on his life-partner. Neither statement was followed. This year, an aging former model whose still-fantastic body I will envy for the rest of my days, sent me a smile that invited conversation over the din of the band. Now a healer, she proceeded to analize my "zones"—while drawing on her cigarette and puffing out smoke—and explained what was wrong with my inner balance. As I turned to search for a more compelling subject, I found myself facing a gorgeous 6’3” angel who was the thinnest person I’ve ever seen alive and still walking. She told me she was twenty-four years old from Indiana and impressed me with her tale of her other career—of a race-car driver. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more, but she discovered that I was not “in the business” and therefore useless. She sauntered away on Bambi legs.
Recruiting my husband as the more exciting company, I gave my ankles a rest on one of the king-size lounges by the pool. Blue lighting shimmering from the water’s depth made our spot ideal to watch the parade of people milling around in search for something that seemed elusive. I examined the faces, and after a while realized what it was that they were all searching for: fun.
In the meanwhile the African-American celebrity moved around the party with an entourage and accompanied by a movie camera and lights. My bachelor homeowner host was MIA until 11PM, when he finally made his appearance. He circulated quietly as the hundreds of models were unaware that this regular-looking man was the billionaire paying for what few weddings would ever cost. He made his rounds for several minutes, apparently taking mental notes, as he finally nodded to one of his aids in the direction of a potential candidate.
A minute later, after the host had disappeared in the frame of light of a huge side veranda, the aid whispered in the model’s ear. Smiling, she followed him inside. In spite of her polished look, as if ready for a cover shoot, I somehow doubted that she had ever been inside a mansion like this one. She would surely enjoy being a guest in one of the thirteen bedrooms. The last model I had met in that house had stayed for five happy years.
My spying was interrupted as my husband, who had exhausted all conversations with the only five people over the age of fifty, signaled to me that he’d had it.
On the way to our car, he asked why I bothered coming to this party every year. “I like playing Margaret Mead among the natives,” I replied. “Or visiting the zoo.”