Tuesday, December 15, 2009

High Desert Society

I was asked to a benefit for Common Cause on Sunday by a person I don't know. This is a long story I don't want to go into. Anyway, it was very interesting in a lot of ways. It was being given at a house up in the hills by a couple who have been active in politics for a while here. I don't know the whole history, but he ran for office at one point and his politics are very progressive.

So I want to describe the scene a little, because I had the distinct feeling I had wandered into a Godfather movie- like at the beginning of the first Godfather, when they were having the party at the western house and the senator was there. It was late afternoon and the sun was setting behind the mountains, which could be seen from the wrap-around windows of the house. The house was pure Santa Fe style. There was art on the walls but it was random stuff, mostly small photos or drawings or watercolors and it was hung higgley piggley. I wanted to take it all down and group them in an interesting way. There was a grand piano and a bunch of chairs set up- the hostess told me she gives piano concerts. She was lovely and natural in the way that many women are here- no makeup, hair undyed in a simple style, wearing some kind of hand-woven vest, looked like it had been made by some native person, South American maybe.

I had worn a long skirt and a red sweater, because I figured even though it was in the afternoon, people would be dressed nicely. I think there was one other woman with a skirt on and she had long hair dyed a vivid red/orange, Indian jewelry, heavy-ish makeup. When she told me her name, I asked if she was related to a crafts center in North Carolina that is quite well-known and she said yes, that the town was named after her family. Other women were wearing pants, vests, maybe a blazer here and there. It was quite a low-key crowd. The host was handsome as some white-haired male politician who are in good shape are. He was passionate when he spoke about how money and corporations are running amok in this country, and how people are being more and more dis-enfranchised by the income disparity. I was rather touched by this noblesse oblige. Well, who else is going to get things done if not the rich? His politics were definitely in the right place and I found that kind of moving.

While I listened to the CEO of Common Cause give a very stirring speech to suggest that perhaps everyone should immediately make out a check which would enable them to hire more computer geeks to work there so they can be viral and utilize Twitter and Facebook to get back on the radar screen (slightly reductive version of his shpiel) I mused upon how I would not be in the company of rich people in New York, and I enjoyed hobnobbing. They had some snacks out, but I noticed NO ONE WAS EATING ANYTHING. I ate a cookie, encouraged by the guy who brung me. It reminded me of a weird thing that happened to me when I first went to the U. of Wisconsin and wanted to pledge a sorority (I was a follower then.) At the sorority I wanted to be invited to (my roommate was a legacy there and she would soon be asked to join) I was given a cupcake to eat, or maybe a tray of cupcakes was offered to me and I took one. But I didn't have time to eat it, because they were talking to me and asking me questions. So I didn't know what to do with the cupcake- it seemed rude to throw it out, so I said I'd just take it and wrap it in a napkin. After all, this is what my grandmother did all the time! But that didn't go over too well. I wasn't asked into that sorority, and the secondary sorority didn't ask me either, because they assumed I'd pledge the other one because of my roommate. I never did join a sorority. That was a defining moment for me. I should have learned to control my sweet tooth from that experience, but I never did. Hence the cookie, one of those butter/caramel crunchy sandwich cookies with chocolate in the middle.

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