Tickets were $200 a pop, but the money went to a good cause. We got shrimp dinners, live dancing and free rides on the refurbished Bubble-ator. It also covered the extra expense of making the decor sensitive to our troubled times. The dance-floor was strewn with life-sized murdered Douglas firs made of solid bunting. With the help of grow-lights, the stereo was solar-powered. The pinkish all-u-can-eat hors d'oeuvre chunks were each tagged with the name of an endangered species (they weren't really meat of endangered species, of course, but they were so nummy it made me wish they were!). Marlee Matlin emceed vigorously.
You probably didn't go to the bash and are mildly curious as how it was. Here's a hint: it was the bashiest. Following are a few snapshots from my mind. Close your eyes as you follow along and imagine!
> Nothing fosters the idea of community like being allowed to be part of it. Traditionally, as a way of showing caring, the city's Inclusiveness Shindigs try to out-include each other in terms of diversity; I suspect that this year's B&W Ball kicked a little multicolored tail in that department.
This year's theme was The Impending Deaths of the Newly Disempowered. That includes the sick, the old, and of course the Death of Gay Chic, as reported by Newsweek. Thanks to Newt Gingrich, any day now old people and sick people are gonna start dying - dying! - and boy will we know where to send the bodies. So we stocked the anteroom with them, to make them feel part of the community, and a UPS man was posted at the door.
But that's not all. The full richness of Seattle's genetic crazy-quilt was on hand. The homeless were there, as were the homed; alcoholism was represented, as were crime and other diseases; the less-than-abled were ably represented by a number of incubated preemies on display. And who could forget The Orient? In the form of a political prisoner on loan from China and his burly, rug-cutting jailors. There was an insane person; there was this nice Mexican busboy; Governor Mike Lowry was there representing the unemployable; there was a strange, sad person there representing non-victims who nobody would talk to; there were even sections for the uninvited community and a non-ethnic. The place was so multi-cultural it looked like a golldamn rainbow out of kilter.
The highlight of the eve was the unveiling of the African-Albino Americans. You know, Black & White? Get it?? The two of them enjoyed a complimentary beverage before leaving.
> Lacrima was wowing a cluster of bystanders with the old story of how she hated cats so much that she'd had hers surgically spade.
And celebrity Toni Morrison strides over. Toni had come to the party as an African- American authoress, and she even sounded the part. "I overheard what you said, and I'll have you know that I feel it is not just my duty but my responsibility to tell you that I find your use of that term morally outrageous and indefensible. Woman, you have offended me." And I guess she found it offensive because of that horrible man Spade Gorton.
But before Lacrima could thank her, someone else said to Toni, "I overheard what you said, and I will have you know that I feel it is not just my duty but my responsibility to tell you that I find your use of that term morally outrageous and indefensible. It is not 'woman'. It is spelled 'wumon'." And he recommended a pretty, understated ümlaut.
An olde-fashioned Circle of Offendedness! It took me back to my sorority days. It's one of those old hippie-style games where there is no winner and everyone loses equally. There is no limit to what the creative mind can misconstrue, improve upon and then painlessly euthanize: inflections, common pronouns, glottal stops, thoughtful pauses, even thoughtless pauses were humanely destroyed by us. Many terms were corrected, gradually became offensive, and then were corrected back, all in the same sentence. A number of onlookers found the whole thing offensive, and joined in delightedly. And around and around we went until, exhausted, we wandered away and excitedly went back to Standard English.
> No social soirée can be its best without at least one massive public relations disaster. Celebrity Lillian Carter refused to be seated next to mayor Norm Rice (who came dressed as a full-blooded Esperanto Indian), muttering that perhaps she would be treated with more respect if she "wasn't an oppressed person."
The crack Carter management team quickly stepped forward to extend earnest, heartfelt scandal control while we watched all a-tingle ... that's the Carter mystique for you. It seems that - and here I quote - to Lillian (the new matriarch of American politics), mayors are kind of like referees: if you don't notice them, that means they're doing a good job. Ergo: Lil considered Rice to be such an effective mayor that she did not know who he was. And that got a round of applause. Furthermore, old Ms. Carter - who I frankly had thought was dead, but maybe I was thinking of Lynda Carter, TV's Wonder Woman, who was also at the party - had been offended because at first glance she had mistaken Rice for Norman Weiss, the late 1950's abolitionist, to which we nodded sympathetically, assuming she must have meant comedian Jimmie Walker, who was working the bar that night, and who bears a striking resemblance to the mayor.
But this other matter had them baffled: no one could figure out how anybody could oppress Lillian Carter without being personally arrested within the hour by Police Chief Norman Stamper himself, which in fact happened to busboy Ernesto, since we figured that indiscriminate breast-squeezing demands some sort of a bold, immediate corrective response and under no circumstances can you arrest a governor during a fund-raiser. Norm gave Ernesto a hug, cuffed him to the Lazy Susan, and staggered back home to bed. And the Carter team finally had to dial up Lawyer-to-the-Stars William Kunstler to find out what ol' Lil had been talking about. No wonder we couldn't get Health Care passed.
Here I stepped forward and said that perhaps Lillian and I, who have experienced so much sadness in our lives - we both are embarrassed by our children - looked at things the same way. You see, most people just have no idea what it's like to have grown up in a society that teaches you to feel sorry for yourself. It's miserable. But I'll tell you what hurts even more: it hurts when people tell me I'm not oppressed. I used to think it hurt because they were, of course, correct. But then I began to look at it this way: I am in fact oppressed by those who attempt to deny me my right to be oppressed. And that hurts more than the real thing I'd guess.
No, this does not make sense. But that proves my point: if I weren't so oppressed, it would make sense. They thanked me profusely. Feathers were unruffled, Lillian was wheeled back to the Carter section and - poof! - no more scandal. It didn't even get mentioned in the paper the next day. Tout moi! Shoulda kept my big mouth shut.
> I suppose you heard that I was outed at this year's B&W. You see, my husband sent a bike messenger over from the parking garage to say he had to get up early and how much longer would I be. And everyone just stared. My husband?
Now, physically I am a straight person. But politically I am a lesbian. But, unlike other otherly-sexual persons, I consider this to be, frankly, a private matter. I will never publicly acknowledge my homosexuality, but it's not because I'm ashamed of it. It's for the same reason that Tom Cruise won't talk about his infertility, or George Burns his impotence: I am embarrassed that I cannot reproduce - politically - without the aid of medical science.
But that doesn't mean I can never privately acknowledge it. You know, at parties with friends. At appropriate social functions. Places where it's simply more sensitive to be a lesbian. And now my husband had gone and embarrassed everyone. So cuddly Norm Stamper had to be summoned again and Skip was arrested.
> An exquisite social blunder is kind of like a baby: everyone wants the privilege of delivering it. Tonight, it was yours truly. "Say, if this little fiesta of ours is supposed to be all-inclusive, where the dickens are the white heterosexual males?"
Gaffe poisson! Dead silence; someone turned the stereo off; me all aglow. Finally cross-dresser Bob Newman chirps: "They're having their own Black & White Diversity Ball. At Targy's Tavern, doncha know!"
And everybody laughs, and laughs. And I'm thinking: if that's a joke, it's not funny; and if it isn't, I still don't get it. And I mentioned that to him when I caught my breath.
> We changed the party theme to The Angst of Suburban Living and cleared out the ante-room. A mop 'n Handiwipe later, we changed
Tired of reading Maxilla's account of the party? 30 min. color B&W Ball video now available. Send $12.95 to Seattle Whitely. The magic of videotape. Comes with 12-page how-to booklet.
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