2004 annual costume institute gala

As my hair air-dries you need to know what I’m doing. I’m in a white robe, which captures the runnels of Infusium as they drip from my saturated hair. I’m getting ready. Linus is licking the freshly applied lemon lotion off my legs. I know what I’ll be wearing, but I’ve just realized I’ll need to wear the chocolate brown rabbit fur wrap I bought for Erin’s birthday (that I’m now borrowing) all night. Even if it’s hot and awkward. I didn’t have time to buy new shoes, so I’m wearing espresso satin wraps with a champagne dress. And they’ll just look all wrong without the wrap, even for a dance. What to do, what to do. Put on Clueless, get drunk on my refrigerator wine, and have a good time. Sounds about right.

Some people get into cabs on a night on the town, instruct Mohammad to put on hot 104.3 or whatever the hot station is these days. Not my thing. I stick to MPR and WOR with Dr. Joy Browne and Joan Hamburg, yes she’s still on the air. I don’t ask the cabbie for going out music. At home, I put on the Clueless DVD and girl out. Lotion on my body, nails done, a soft kiss of kitten body glitter dusts my shoulders. Then I sit Indian style with Linus and put on my falsies.

Excuse you. Not those. False eyelashes. Admittedly, I don’t need them. But this is a black tie event. The “Party of the Year!” I need to feel I’ve done something special for it. I mean, I didn’t even get new shoes. It’s 8:26. Doors open at 10pm. I need to hop to the east side to snatch the wrap from the clutches of Erin. She told me to wear red and champagne, but the only red shoes I own are Manolo open-toed slides, which won’t work with the control top pantyhose unless I wear Spanx or cut off the legs. But I still don’t own a red wrap, and besides, red is so not my color. I don’t care if Julianne Moore looks fabulous in it. I don’t. (By the by, she was wearing bright purple/blue)

Beautiful people, gowns to match. The men were socialites and noticed shoes. Borderline gay or at the very least accustomed to high maintenance women who drag them shoe shopping and make them hold their purse. I bumped into the sales lady form Foley & Corrina who sold me my dress, who assumed I was “working” because of the intimidating camera… and then, in public, she retied my dress. That’s right, she stripped me down, right there on the dance floor and retied my dress. (Study the pictures closely and you’ll see the difference.) I hear you. Hot. No. It wasn’t. She whispered, “I promise, your bra won’t show.” How about my humility, is that showing? Jeez.

Everyone was there. Name names, why? You’ll see it everywhere soon enough. But yes, everyone was there. J. Lo, Charlize Theron, Dolce & Gabbana, Renee Zellweger, Sheryl Crow, Lucy Liu, Mandy Moore, Michael Kors, Naomi Watts, Claire Danes, Calvin Klein, Donald Trump… I know you’re looking for their photos, but you won’t find them here. I didn’t bother. Though I used the hurried excuse of “Wow, there’s Scarlet Johansson. Sorry to be rude…have to run.” to avoid obnoxious male suitors. I figured all the real press would cover the glitteratzi far better than I could in heels. So, in place of my camera, I picked up my champagne.

It was even too chi chi for me. I mean, women in fabulous gowns with the perfect jewels spent the day at the salon, despite the rain. They had chauffeurs not taxis. I felt like the only one there that actually worked for a living. Their hair was tied like a present; “Daling, I am God’s gift. I thought you received the social card saying so.”

It was a shallow night. I wanted to believe there was soul and depth in the crowd. I listened for it, squinting. Instead all I heard were conversations of the next party, of cute waiters, of her pound of pearls and that amazing dress. Men think just because they have the balls to approach you, you have to talk to them. They sauntered with a sense of entitlement, as lies seeped through the spaces of their teeth. I wanted to smuggle in Linus to bite them. I longed for jeans and jukeboxes, though N.E.R.D was pretty good. As you can imagine, we skipped the Bugalow 8 After Party. I’m not doing another one of these media events. They leave you empty; feeling poor and ugly, like expensive Chinese food.



  1. Quite an event. I looked at most of the pics. Quite frankly daling, you were the prettiest person in the room.

  2. Stephanie, you were never lovelier. Champagne is your color. But believe me when I say that Capitol Hill parties are much deadlier. I once had to prop up the extremely senescent Strom Thurmond in a buffet line.

    And now one small favor: introduce me to Julianne Moore and I will be your sperm donor. You get the most dazzling DNA imaginable, and I get … Julianne! Gracias.

  3. very smart. you top the page with that gorgeous pic and lure the reader into staying. slick. i like that.

  4. You do look fabulous. Your sentiments echo mine after my first (and last?) gala in 1999 – "Get me away from these people."

  5. I'm intimidated. You look great, everyone looks great (except for Anne Heche). I'm going to NYC in July and my hosts live in Soho, they're gay and wealthy. Then we're going to the Hamptons for a weekend. I have no idea what to wear, but I have two months to figure it out.

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