Tuesday, June 23, 2009

European Vacation, Day 3

Now I know why the Hotel de Paris is able to offer an elaborate free breakfast in conjunction with the Bal de l’Été; I would be stunned if anyone got up in time to partake of it! Despite setting two wake-up calls, I was unable to get up before noon. I decided to take advantage of the SBM reciprocity and head over to the Monte Carlo Beach Club to catch some rays and enjoy the water. Unsurprisingly for Monaco, not only do you have to pay 5 euros to rent towels, but you have to choose: pool or beach. Not both. By total happenstance I was placed next to Gabrielle and Gray, so we spent the afternoon chatting amicably and uproariously about the characters we had encountered so far over the weekend (in addition to the mostly fantastic people): arrivistes, hangers-on, social climbers, and Casanovas in brocade suits. The saltwater pool had many diving platforms and was a welcome respite from the hot sun, and we had a very pleasant interlude.

I headed over to the aptly named (i.e., very Baroque and lovely) Hermitage Hotel to pick up my passes for the weekend (including, mercifully, some discount coupons for the infamous Jimmy’z). The suite that was headquarters looked like something out of a movie set in a WWII bunker or the War Rooms museum in London rather than the venue for international partygoers. After joining G and G for a very nice rosé and canapés in their suite, we miraculously grabbed a taxi to the pre-Bal cocktail party where we had spent the afternoon sunning ourselves. I finally had a chance to meet our hostess/organizer, Catherine. When I asked Heinrich, a very nice chap whom I’d met over the course of the weekend, how his first meeting with her (ours was sort of dismissive and frosty) went, he informed us that she had peremptorily told him “to wear a tie next time.” I would argue that a woman in some sort of Caribbean-slash-Pocahontas getup shouldn’t criticize other people’s sartorial choices, but maybe that’s just me. (Perhaps I am just prejudiced because our initially cordial e-mail correspondence soured when she told me that she found my additional donation to her cause “quite small in comparison with her other guests.”) Anyhow, the cocktail party was very nice. I had the pleasure of running into my good buddy Mark Baer, who is now living in London and who I hadn’t known was coming. Eventually I wound up with the charming couple of Anric and Lauralouise, who live in Oyster Bay, and we made many trips back to the excellent buffet supper and I had a very enjoyable conversation with Beth, an incoming NYU public health student—maybe I can get her to take my apartment next door?

Before the evening descended into the usual champagne-soaked, techno-imbued, well-dressed denouement at Jimmy’z, we went to a charming venue called the Sea Lounge. Right on the ocean, with sort of a tiki feel, it was a nice change. From there, it was kind of a nice walk along the sea, and it allowed us to get our bearings back a bit before you-know-where. More than anything, I have to say that the best part of the event is meeting so many people; they’re rather like how Nick Carraway describes the guests at a Great Gatsby party, where “their simplicity of heart was the only requirement of admission.” Or something like that.

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