In honor of Ellen’s brand-new Cajun Country Mysteries title MARDI GRAS MURDER, the Chicks are sharing their favorite party memories. Hey, you don’t have to be in NOLA to have fun (or not). Celebrations big or small, fun or disastrous, we’ve got a party for you!
In my experience, the best parties are those you don’t expect to be fun (lookin’ at you, prom and every New Year’s Eve of my life). Usually, the most exciting part of a greatly-anticipated event is planning your outfit (until Zero Hour, when you’re late and nothing fits and the dress looks nothing like it did on you in the store and the high heel suddenly snaps off one sparkly shoe). I have to say, though, it’s hard to pick a favorite from the truly memorable ones. I’m not even going to count the 80s, because they were all a good time. But there was that annual Aruba Party back in college, held each mid-January, where one lucky couple would be whisked off through the snow at midnight to Logan Airport to catch a plane to (of course) Aruba. We all arrived with a suitcase packed for the weekend, just in case. (Usually the lucky winners never remembered anything about the trip.) I was always hopeful, but never won. But one year the ton of sand brought in to create a “beach” in the former frat house got too wet from all the beer and collapsed the antique-pine dance floor. Needless to say, the College and esteemed alumni were not very pleased. Oh, and Favorite Party Runner-up: a bash held on the Intrepid in NYC where dozens of very charming (and extremely fit, handsome, and cocky) aviators showed off their cool planes. (Top Gun is real, ladies—sunglasses at night and all.)
I have to say, I’ve gotten to attend some great parties in my time. Mardi Gras balls, anyone? Grub Street, the guys behind Frasier and Wings, threw amazing holiday bashes at cool L.A. locales. I’ve yet to attend the Oscars, Emmys, or Grammys, but I did go to the GLAAD awards. In my youth, some Italian cousins ran two Queens catering halls, and I attended events so lavish they inspired a play — “So When You Get Married…” — and a new mystery series I’m writing for Kensington, The Catering Hall Mysteries. I even worked great parties when I cater-waitered for Martha Stewart. But the shindig I will always label the best was this one:
New Year’s Eve, 1979. An actor-waiter I knew from the Martha crew was living in a loft on 47th and 7th. Sound familiar? Yup, just north of Times Square. The loft was attached to the roof of the building next door, so right before midnight, we all climbed out a large window onto the roof and watched the ball drop at midnight, looking down at the chilly, huddling masses below with a sense of superiority.
It was the only time I’ve ever truly enjoyed New Year’s Eve.
If I’m honest, probably the most memorable party for me was one of my very first sleepovers, when I was eleven. I learned a few dance steps. And the older girls put eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick on me – exciting because I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up at that point. I also got my first taste of wine from the birthday girl’s older sister. It was just a sip, but alcohol was (and still is!) not allowed in my parents’ home. All that forbidden fruit was sooo delicious! And as the youngest kid in attendance, I guess I was most excited, and a little surprised, that the older girls (young teens) were so nice and made me feel like one of the gang. It was kind of like hanging out with the Chicks, except I’m definitely not the youngest, nobody cares about make-up, and there’s substantially more wine involved!
It’s so hard to choose! Texas Governor Ann Richards’ inaugural ball in Austin, Texas, at the historic Driskill Hotel? The Halloween party in San Francisco where the Unibomber poured extra-strong gin and tonics and I became so mesmerized by a pair of android fembots that I couldn’t stop staring at them? Ooh! Or the big gala at the LBJ Library and Museum, where I worked in college? It had all the pomp and circumstance of a state dinner, and I vividly remember one of the Johnson daughters proclaiming, “Tonight is a love feast, and we are all the chefs.” (Okay, speech writers, really?) I love costumes, galas, dressing up, and fancy hors d’oeuvres, but I have to say: my favorite parties are the ones where we sat in someone’s backyard and just laughed at each other’s jokes all night long.
This question is impossible but…I’m going to fly right past the college parties (though I loved the themed ones requiring costumes), and go right to (a) our wedding reception and (b) the baby showers that my lovely sister threw for my two kiddos. In my heart, those always will be tied for first place. Also, there was the best cake in the world at all three! Not that I’m a cake addict. Though I probably wouldn’t say no to special-event cake. Though I definitely should. So, okay, yes, cake will happen…but afterwards will come the cake guilt…it’s a whole spiral thing…and I seem to have gotten off-topic here…
I grew up around some pretty fabulous parties, as my folks loved to host elaborate costume parties for Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and Mardi Gras. And then, of course, there were those college beer bashes where we’d dance all night to the Rolling Stones and the Kinks until collapsing exhausted on sofas at three a.m., and then sleep it off till noon the next day.
But if I were to pick just one party, it would be the one I threw for myself when I graduated from law school. It was was an afternoon garden party, where we ate cucumber sandwiches and sipped tea and Champagne while playing croquet. I asked everyone to dress all in white, and the results were spectacular—people in flowing, white dresses, stylish white tuxedo jackets, and flannel tennis slacks. The prize for the most splendid attire, however, would have to go to my oldest brother, who arrived in a toga fashioned from a white sheet and set off with an olive garland in his hair.
Readers, any memorable (or not) party stories you’d like to share in the comments?
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