Southampton Hospital Benefit: One Weird Night: Pt 1 Cocktail Hour

It’s the party where fabulous gowns, gobs of jewelry, and men in pink plaid shorts and knee socks collide. It’s the Southampton Hospital annual benefit evening. And I was there.

photo credit: Blanche WilliamsonSouthampton, for those without access to movies, TV, newspapers, magazines, or other sentient beings, is one of the towns in the swanky NY resort area known as The Hamptons.

After a lifetime in the Hamptons, I’d heard all about the big parties and the glamorous people.  I just wasn’t one of them. Unless bad hair and stained 20 year old t-shirts are glam, that is.  I never went to the benefit because I was never part of Southampton “society.”  Why? Read on.

1. Have you checked out my last name, people? Rabinowitz-Friedman? Uh – Jew.  Actually, double Jew.  Southampton is not exactly a bastion of diversity. Founded in 1640, the town didn’t get a synagogue until the 1990’s. But at least they welcome my people kindly- with a lawsuit trying to stop the synagogue from existing at all.

2. I own neither a Lily Pulitzer dress, nor a pair of loafers with a cute little crest on them. Also, I have ankles.

3. I’d rather eat than drink at a party.

4. I don’t hang out on the veranda with my boarding school chums Kathy and Preston.  Mostly because I don’t have a veranda and I went to Public School with kids named Amy and David.

So this foray into the bowels heart of SH society, well, it was too much to pass up.  I considered wearing a sheitel – but decided that what with my fabulous new(ish) haircut I wouldn’t want to cover it up with a schmata on my head. (And if you know what I mean by this – you wouldn’t be part of SH society either!)

We arrived at the party and the first thing I see is a woman of a certain age wearing a white fur stole. It was 90 degrees people. I knew I was in for a weird night.

We wandered through the somewhat older crowd hoping for a familiar face. Quickly, I realized that even if  someone’s face had been familiar once, that had been several surgeries ago, so I wouldn’t recognize them anyway. Kinda like on a Soap Opera where the person disappears and comes back unrecognizable because of plastic surgery performed by a world renowned evil doctor in a faraway county .  Oh, and because they hired a new actress.

I haven’t seen so many Beauty Parlor, made-to-last-for-a-week hairdos since the last time I watched Mad Men. The hair spray fumes were suffocating. I fervently wished no one would light a match.

No one did.  Nor did anyone speak to us or even give us the eye contact that might be necessary for us to speak to them.  This was not a warm and welcoming crowd. Also, for people who are supposedly part of society – well, let’s just say there were a lot of women of a certain age dressed like they were certainly a whole lot younger.  Tip to women around the world: when your breast hover somewhere around your navel, it’s not a good idea to go braless in a skimpy dress.

It was a weird mix of truly gorgeous society women, and truly tacky false-eyelash wearing, bad plastic surgery sporting wannabes.   Look!  Over there!  A jewel encrusted emerald green silk strapless shift.  And look!  over there!  a silver lame skin tight gown that wouldn’t be out of place on Snookie from the Jersey Shore.  And I don’t even think you’re allowed to say the words “Jersey Shore” when you’re in the Hamptons.  On pain of having to wear lip liner without lipstick.  Oh the horror.

True to the cliché that Jews like food and gentiles like drink at their parties (see #3, above) cocktail hour passed with nary an hors d’oevres in sight. Then, just before I keeled over from the combination of alcohol, hairspray fumes and the crisp smell of cold hard cashthey herded us, cowlike (bejeweled cows – but still) into dinner, But to hear about that, you’ll have to check in tomorrow for part two: The Dinner.  Wherein a blond bimbo with big lips announces that she’s in the market for a man worth $50 million or more, and my husband baffles party goers by mentioning bungalow colonies in the Catskills.

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  1. says

    This post is hilarious! OMG! I, too, would not be welcomed there and I sure do know what a schmata is. What the heck were you doing there?? I guess you have to think of it as a Margaret Mead expedition, collecting data on mysterious cultures..Can’t wait for part 2!

    • says

      So glad to make you laugh. And what was I doing there? Gathering blog fodder…that’s what. Oh, and using someone else’s tickets…they couldn’t go and thought I might like a last hurrah in the town I grew up going to every summer for my whole life. I’ll miss it. But it was a great goodbye.

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