What a day . . .
1) Mine host and I got into our duds and ankled over to Hochmina-sur-Mer a shade before noon to rendezvous with the others before the pre-party. To the surprise of no one who knows me, we were a bit early.
2) From there we promenaded over to the pre-party on Comical Street, and it was evident that a few reviewing stands were being set up for the eventual stream of white-clad partygoers. I must say, it's easier to do this thing in a group than on one's own.
3) The pre-party was hosted by a couple I'll call Les Bon Vivants, the center of an intensely creative and fun-oriented group. This year it was held on a deck with an unintended depression right on the harbor. Rosé, sandwiches, cake, company, and chaise longues. I have not forgotten two years ago when I wore the caftan and didn't sit down for seven hours because I didn't want to wrinkle it. I fell asleep at the dinner table twice that night . . . in a restaurant . . . so it was fabulous to recline on simple splendor during this gathering.
4) One of the best parts of this party is seeing what people wear, how they respond to the challenge of a completely white ensemble. Pre-party standouts absolutely begin with the friend who created a head-consuming mask of faux pearls and rhinestones, five musketeers complete with hats, rapiers, pearls, lace, and chest-baring bustiers; and a weather system complete with a large cumulus cloud of balloons in tow.
5) Eventually we headed off to the Big Event, and as I said, it's much less intimidating to do this as a group. That said, I'm one of those people who wants to Be There - the journey is not the destination on White Party Day - and eventually found myself at the head of the group. There was a great deal of interest from the groups assembled on Comical Street, clearly ready to enjoy the Passing Show.
6) Another reason the White Party is so special is that it is held at D**** H****, a private complex of little white beach cottages that is not open to the public, and which borders on the beach. Once you pass check-in, there's a little green lawn where they set up two bars; past that and a cottage, a stone patio with a bar and a DJ and the beach. It's a good set-up.
7) Pro tip: Always go to the patio bar first, where the line is shorter, and always get two drinks to save time later. I was taught this by pros years ago.
7a) Pro tip II: For God's sake, pace yourself!
8) A third reason the White Party is so special is that one runs into so many friends and acquaintances there. Except this year. Fewer people I knew, and more people from New York and Washington.
8a) AND, as it turns out, the Old Hometown! Later in the gathering, in line for the porta-potties, I was floored to discover that the man behind me was a native of the Old Hometown and had graduated from my sister's high school (long before she did).
9) Now we come to the section that the old Society columns might have headed "Some of the Gowns." Lots of tennis clothes this year, a narwhal with a four-foot tall horn grafted onto a helmet, a bunny with a bunch of carrots in his, uh, basket; three medusas with inflatable snake headdresses, angels, unicorns, a milkman, a group with headgear marking them a 50th birthday cake with candles, and the Pope, to whom I said "Well, you sure are putting the Ho in Your Holiness."
10) But my favorite by far was the man in the all-white outfit with the large nametag that said, "HELLO, my name is Privilege."
11) Sometime after 5 PM (!), Mine Host and I began the trek to tea dance, eventually falling in with a heterosexual couple from Ohio who had been to the White Party and had clearly enjoyed it.
12) Mine Host and I became separated at Tea, and I didn't reconnect with him until almost the end. In the meantime I ran into a few friends here and there on an increasingly crowded deck.
13) Our trip back home might be described as the meeting of Miss Grace N. Poise and Mr. Bob N. Weave. A focus on deportment brought us safely home . . .
14) . . . after which I made a foray back to Comical Street for some good ol' greezy pizza at Spiritus. Stood in line talking with a very interesting guy who does corporate events for D****y.
15) Sometimes there is just nothing better in the world than pepperoni pizza. And we consumed ours heartily, after which I was introduced to The Great British Bake-Off. Now all y'all know that I don't watch TV, so I'd heard vaguely about this show and not really known about it. Long story short, I am fascinated now.
16) Mine Host actually fell asleep before he could learn who the final winner was, so no spoilers. But it was a happy note on which to head to bed, to dream of the perfect Victoria sandwich.