Monday, October 5, 2009

A night at Edith Wharton's

I love Edith Wharton's books like a fat guy loves cake. She was the daughter of on old High Society New York family, one of the "Four Hundred" as they called them back then, the class of people that never worked for a living and didn't allow divorced women inside their houses. And Edith, mighty authoress she, divorced her husband and ran off to Paris to write. During World War I, she offered sanctuary for refugees. Edith Wharton--kicking ass and taking names.
Back to her books--"Age of Innocence," "The Custom of the Country," "The House of Mirth,"--they're all about the men and women of the upper-upper class, engaged in delicate drawing room and parlor battles for prestige, status, and happiness. (Lots of wardrobe envy, too. I can relate. I feel it whenever I ride the subway past Broadway-Nassau.) Wharton's mastery lies in creating for the reader the rarefied world in which her characters live. You can practically smell the wallpaper in these 5th Avenue mansions she word-crafts.

So you can imagine my delight upon entering the National Arts Club at Gramercy Park: the vases, the settees, the fainting couches, the oil paintings, the Tiffany glass in the ceilings--where were May and Newland and the Countess? (Bonus literary nerd points for that one.) I was sure glad I wore my good gown!

Due to my respect for the privacy of friends and family, I can't tell you exactly why and how I garnered an invitation to this time capsule. I can say, however, that Edith Wharton would be pleased to see one of those old WASP-y mansions she eviscerated in her writing used to pay tribute to writers, actors, and musicians.

It was a great party, much music and merrymaking. I met many of the BF's far-flung ohana (BS and his lady friend were there, he always likes to be mentioned), and this guy. He wrote the script for "Fiddler on the Roof." Yeah. THAT "Fiddler on the Roof." I even got to hear one of the songs that was cut from "Fiddler on the Roof" due to time and story constraints, sung by a Broadway actor who I'm sure I'd've been really impressed to meet if I knew a lick about modern musical theatre. Lotta Tony winners in the room, let's put it that way.

As it was, I just smiled a lot and curbed my impulse to visit the extremely well-stocked open bar. A girl's gotta have some class when she goes uptown. I did, however, sneak upstairs to the top floor of the mansion and discover the secret bathroom.
Rachel Brown, carrying on the proud family tradition of going where I'm not allowed.

1 comment:

  1. "I love Edith Wharton's books like a fat guy loves cake." As a proud fat guy, I find that comment horribly offensive. Frankly, I could take or leave cake.