An old writing assignment of mine. We had to retell about a romantic evening.
The party was pushed back two hours on that humid May night. Indiana was in its first year of Day Light Savings Time and the host had not anticipated that the sun wouldn’t be tucked under the horizon until ten o’clock. I pulled up to the house on Meridian Street -that legendary mile in historic Indianapolis, swimming with “old money” and dotted with the elaborate mansions built in the throws of the Jazz Age-still the “best address” in the state- and passed along my car the the valets (who themselves had valets, to drive them to and from the lot a few miles away). Before entering the house I smoothed my cream, drop-waisted, satin gown and ran my hand lightly against my finger-waved, bobbed hair, feeling the deep ridges so meticulously placed by an enduring hairdresser. I pulled out a gold compact and made sure myfemme fatale look was still perfect. With a tube of alizarin lipstick I touched up my baby-doll lips. I rang the bell, the butler showed me to the rear patio.
A Dixieland Jazz band, imported, I later found out, from New Orleans, was set up in the gazebo in the middle of a large stone patio that consumed a third of the back yard. Around it one hundred couples danced and giggled, tippled champagne and fell in love underneath a blanket woven with a thousand strands of naked light-bulbs. Glittering laughter and the sultry timbre of the solo clarinet skipped over the surface of the thick night air and soared upwards into the star sprinkled sky. From the balcony I watched the party goers in their Jazz Age best: men in dark suits and oiled hair; women in bias cut gowns with plunging fronts and backs, dripping in crystal and diamond, fluttering with feathers and fringe. A slight breeze startled the satin folds of my gown and I shuddered lightly at the cool fabric kissing my sultry skin. I felt a shift in the syrupy air and turned to see the host, a 20-something self-made millionaire. His name was James. Like the fictional Gatsby not one of us understood how we knew James, we all just did. I had only met him once, at a dinner party hosted by my father’s business six months previous. We had made slight conversation and had not been in contact since then, until the invitation to the party arrived in the mail.
“Georgia!”, he found my first name ill-fitting and always called me by my middle name, “I am so glad you could come! Isn’t this just beautiful? When I die, I shall have to thank Fitzgerald myself for such lovely inspiration!”
He was referring to the “theme” of his soiree, The Great Gatsby. He had just read it for the first time and had found himself quite transformed by it. “I am Gatsby!” he would continually affirm.
“It is very beautiful, James. But Gatsby hardly ever interacts with his guests, you’re doing it all wrong.” I countered.
“I suppose you are right…hey! I’m going to call you Daisy tonight, you’re such a Daisy! Superficial, languid, materialistic…just don’t run over anyone, OK?” he looked at me with a mock seriousness on his face. A kiss was prompted by the effervescent joy of the evening.
“Yes sir. And you, steer clear of any swimming pools!” I offered, laughing at his absurdity. He laughed and made his departure to assign more characters, determined, he said, to find me a “Tom”.
I descended to the dance floor and was absorbed by the crowd, swirled around with the colors and the satin. In the perfumed cloud of expensive eau de toilettes and the sticky smell of humid skin the night dissolved and we rode heavenward on the clarinet’s soaring notes.