This will be a post that I am sure I will get criticism for. It’s a ramble. It’s more of a flowing stream of consciousness, and doesn’t really have purpose it’s just my thoughts jotted down. But I write when the spirit moves me, and sometimes the writing spirit sort of chooses me. So….here we go…..
I was out in the garden early this morning. The sounds of late summer have arrived. The hum of the cicada orchestra is the first sound. Followed by the Catbirds calling and Carolina Wrens scolding. A hummingbird darts around, completely unmoved by my presence. And hummingbirds they will bop you if you’re near their chosen food source. It’s actually pretty funny because you don’t expect a bird that small to be that aggressive.
As I look around, the butterflies dance. Monarchs and Swallowtails bobbing on and off the Joe Pye Weed, garden phlox, and swamp milkweed. To me, this is a slice of heaven. I’d rather be here than anyplace else.
There are of course other kinds of butterflies. Human ones. Social butterflies. They flit from party to party, wanting to belong. But that theory of belonging doesn’t just depend on attending a party and having a photo taken.
And maybe that is because the concept of what defines society has changed? Society used to have rules and lines one just did not cross. People you see today in “society photos” would not have even been invited to a lot of things even twenty years ago.
I put “society photos” in air quotes because essentially the era of the true society press has passed. When we had many newspapers once upon a time, we had many society editors. But they weren’t just taking photographs of people at the events they covered, they were telling you about the parties. Who was hosting them, why they were being hosted the charities involved, the decor, the food, the flowers.
That’s not what goes on today and of course when I look at social butterflies in current summer event photos I have to smile. That used to be there weren’t so many “events” in the summer because society went away in the summer. Much the way society escaped to Palm Beach or Palm Springs for a midwinter break. And you would look at the society photos from the away summer and mid winter black ties.
When I was in my 20s, a lot of summers some of my friends and I would go to Newport, Rhode Island here and there. For parties like Newport Night in White and the Gatsby Society. Here we went to summer parties at the Mann Music Center or proper garden parties here and there — some private, some to benefit a non-profit.
These parties were amazing. It wasn’t necessarily easy to find yourself on the invitation list, but if you did, these were parties that were so worth going to. We all dressed in appropriate summer black-tie or semi-formal attire. Dresses were pretty. It wasn’t about flashy or showing lots of skin or a designer label bag or how high were the heels you wore. It was civilized. They always had great music too. And if s party was casual, people still dressed well.
So now the idea of summer parties and gala events have changed. Just like the people who attend them. I look at the photos and wonder who are these people? Why do they matter? Or do they actually matter? And sometimes I look at the photos and see people who didn’t belong as hard as they pushed 30 years ago trying to reinvent themselves today. What will that gain them in the end?
Now I actually do know some who essentially chase their tails to go or get invited to these nouveau society events. What they don’t realize, of course, is when the novelty of their persona and/or use wears off, the gadflies will be onto the next new and amusing person. And it’s sad because some of these women will feel quite adrift when it’s over. That is one concept about society through the ages which has never changed. Maybe it’s human nature on some level? Maybe social Darwinism?
And it won’t last because this new idea of society today doesn’t have the cohesiveness of the past. In the past there was always at least a commonality of purpose. It was more than just buying a ticket to a party or finding someone to comp you.
Women served together on volunteer committees and they actually worked for the special events from beginning to end. Now most think it’s enough to just put their name on a committee list on an invitation or maybe give a mention on social media they are going. But they leave the actual work of the parties to paid staff. The parties aren’t as good and the event vibes are all different. More transient and temporary.
I think sometimes the true spirit of volunteerism is disappearing. And a lot of it isn’t just because the social norms of what is deemed acceptable behavior has changed. Sometimes it’s because the old guard who are left volunteering for certain events have turned into control freak old dragons. They literally chase away those who want to come up behind them and volunteer. They can’t let go.
I would rather be in my garden.
I know who my friends are, I appreciate them. But while I found the party scenes and gala and event scenes fun when I was younger, at this stage of my life I can take them or leave them. Maybe it’s because life priorities are different. Or maybe it’s because the “scene” as it were lost it’s luster.
I still like to dress up and put on lipstick, but I am picky at what I choose to go to. I look for things that are meaningful to me at this point in my life. And I want to go places where there are nice people. I am not jockeying for some imaginary social position. I also don’t need to. Sadly I have known people in who have chosen this insane need to belong over real friendships. That is their choice and perhaps they weren’t the people we really thought they were?
That is why I like being in my garden. My butterflies and flowers and birds are real. Just as my friends and family are. Society or what passes for it as a dim example today I will take a pass on.
Thanks for stopping by.