Sunday, 18 April 2010

Partying Long Island style - and a slightly surreal weekend

I can report back from the Gala dinner that Americans - at least the ones round here - DO like a good party.

On Friday night, we pulled up at a local country club, a mansion overlooking Long Island Sound, built by the Guggenheim family and somewhat bizarrely resembling an English manor house on the outside and an Italian palazzo within. We were there to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the local non-profit parenting centre (with which I am becoming more involved) but it felt rather more as if we were returning to the days of The Great Gatsby, whose fictional events took place in the exact same area.

Although the event was not 'black tie', everyone looked very glamorous - the men sharp-suited, the women in cocktail dresses and gowns. The wine, meanwhile, was served in large glasses and certainly flowed - and indeed, no-one seemed to be holding back, with large amounts being merrily quaffed despite the fact that one half of every couple must have been driving.

What I will say is that later on in the evening, though, everyone still seemed amiable and not too much the worse for wear. There were no blokes stumbling sweatily round the dance floor to the strains of Come On Eileen. No-one appeared to be sitting bleary-eyed in the toilets, or pouring out their hearts drunkenly to their best friend. Whether this was a consequence of most people there having small children to get back to, I am not sure, but it certainly seemed more decorous than your typical British black tie do. Still, the party was very much in full swing when we left at 11.30 to relieve our baby sitter.

Pleasantly hangover-free the next day, we've been unable to attribute the events of this weekend to alcohol-induced hallucination - because it is me, or has the news unfolding in our native land become slightly surreal?

The fallout caused by the Icelandic volcano seems extraordinary. I am feeling particularly sorry for my sister, a teacher, who is stranded in Marrakech with a class of 40 pupils following a school trip to Morocco. Now, being stranded in Morocco as a an independent traveller might be one thing - I guess you could just go on one big bazzaar shopping spree - but imagine the logistics of having to look after 40 demanding teenage girls, probably freaking out over the situation, and thinking of alternative ways to get them home? It doesn't bear thinking about and I hope fervently that she is able to make her way home soon.

What with the British media reporting that the Lib Dems might romp home in the Election, it feels as if the whole world has gone topsy-turvy with the old 'certainties' swept away.

It seems strange, sitting here at one step removed from the whole situation; as if you are watching a surreal play unfold, while sitting behind the fourth wall of a theatre, or watching some slightly unbelievable reality TV show.

Is this the classic expat detachment setting in?

13 comments:

Mud in the City said...

INteresting - I'm feeling that detachment a bit as well. Watching stuff on the BBC and getting emails form friends, but feeling that none of it is really real....

Your poor sister though - I bet it all feel far too real for her!

Iota said...

It is very bizarre, isn't it. Though Husband is caught up in it. Stranded in the UK. Due to fly home on Tuesday, but Delta has notified him that they've cancelled all flights.

So what's their secret? How were they merrily quaffing, but not getting the worse for wear? Are you suggesting that drunken behaviour is culturally conditioned?

Potty Mummy said...

Am feeling detached too - so detached that I'm ashamed to admit your news about the LibDems WAS news to me. Must pay more attention, PM... (Mind you, if you want surreal, try living in Russia)

Belgravia wife - sort of said...

Hi there, I have never been the person who attracts nutters in the supermarket, I always have however been the one to get collared by the drunk girl crying in the loo at a wedding - more times than I care to mention. We went to a wedding in Devon about a month ago, towards the end if the evening I went to the loo, I got collared by a sobbing drunk girl, easily my age.....Nothing changes this side of the pond. Your party sounds lovely.

As for the ash Blighty has entered a wrong sort of snow shutdown - we ended up taking flights early and going for a long w/e here. xx

Fourdownmumtogo said...

Just you wait, the dreaded ash is meant to reach the East Coast of the US this week.

Hope your sister gets back OK. I was feeling very sorry for those teachers stranded with their pupils, but didn't realise she was among them.

Nota Bene said...

Marakech...suggest your sister sells them to buy a camel to bring her home....

nappy valley girl said...

Mud - indeed. I just wish there was something I could do to help her, but there is absolutely nothing...

Iota - I think they probably know when to stop, more than anything else. Or maybe how to hide the fact that they are drunk, rather than showing off about it....

PM - Now, that that would definitely be surreal enough.....

Belgravia wife - yes, weddings are always good for a bit of drunken sobbing. And it can be at any age!

Fourdownmumtogo - well, we are not planning to go anywhere at the moment, so I think we will sit tight. My father in law is supposed to be coming next weekend though - it's anyone's guess if he will make it....

NB- great suggestion. White slavery definitely a solution!

Expat mum said...

I've just posted about my mother missing her trip to Dublin because of Iceland (so to speak). When I read things like your poor sister's story I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Ugh!

Metropolitan Mum said...

I wish I could vote in the national elections. It's bizarre to be in the midst of it but not able to be doing anything about it.

mothership said...

I did NOT know about the Lib Dems. That would certainly be weird. I can't quite picture it, and now you mentioned about Nick Clegg being 1st in the lunch queue I feel even more ambivalent about it (surely someone is going to beat him up in the loos in the house of commons?)
The ash is very surreal. I can't get my head around it - like a sort of nuclear winter? Where nobody can fly or get fresh veg? Beginning to feel glad I'm not going home for my holidays..

nappy valley girl said...

Expat Mum - I haven't spoken directly to my sister but I am sure it's horrendous for her. I'm hoping she'll be back later this week.....with lots of tales to tell.

Met Mum - Wel, I wished I could have voted for Obama.....not that I was here then, but still.

Mothership - think it is all a bit of spin, but it has certainly livened up what must be the dullest election in history.....

A Modern Mother said...

Lots of strange things going on I have to agree. Your poor sister (and the families of those girls). I think there is a post about the drinking thing and differences between US and UK. I do live up to the stereotype on this one.

Mwa said...

Sounds like a lovely party. I never got why so many people at British parties had to get drunk anyway.