Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The grass is always greener

Riverside Drive and 95th Street. Photo: Jeff Hirsch.
Tuesday, June 3, 2012. Another very warm (hot) summer day in New York, although the breezes by the river were cooler than the day before.

The summer season for the rich, the chic, and the shameless goes into full swing with the holiday, which is basically a long weekend times two, since the holiday is right smack in the middle of the week. When we began the Social Diary in Quest eighteen years ago, all eyes were on the world of Southampton. And its domestic politics. That’s where the very social New York newsmakers dwelt in summer. And, many of those bold-facers were descendents of earlier scions and heiresses whose granpaws and granmaws began abuilding their summer houses early on in the last century.

Sid Bass and Mercedes Kellogg Bass in the late '80s.
Back then (1994), all eyes were still on Mercedes Kellogg Bass, the fun-loving hostess who had  a reputation among her friends for knowing how to leave ‘em laughing. By then, however, Mrs. Kellogg had transformed into Mrs. Bass in a much reported walk-out with the very-much-married Texas billionaire who also resided in Manhattan and Southampton with his (first) wife. Now Mercedes’ old fun-loving pals were lamenting their loss, having taken her “fun” with her.

All that is history now. The crowd which ruled the social roost back then have either divorced, quit the social circuit, left town or the planet, or all of the above. Even the Basses went kaput, and for all I know the now former Missus is on someone’s yacht in the Adriatic as I write this. Chic is as chic does, after all, and such are the lady’s choices these days.

Meanwhile back in Southampton a hot summer affair between two married unmarrieds always provides a fresh hot breeze to invade the torpor of too much too soon. Alas, from all reports, torpor is the winner these days. I’m sure there are affairs and threatening divorces still unknown to these ears, but the final question remains: “who are they?” Whatever it is, or whoever they are, there’s nothing arching eyebrows and being blabbed all over the Hamptons.

Not in Southampton anyway.

However, on the other side of the Manhattan map, farther west and upcountry farther north, in the sleepy little village of Millbrook where polo is their local version of a neighborhood summer softball game, the talkers are talking and the cluckers are clucking with airwaves pierced daily by random OMGs. All over one of the community’s most prominent couples.

He is a scion, authentic and old-school,  like the kind who used to inhabit the aforementioned beach town. He’s also a very successful businessman, plus hail fellow well met, a heck of a sportsman, and an all-around kinda great guy. She is the amazing counterpart, his match: a beauty, a charmer, a lady, and right up there with the best of the boys when it comes to their (outdoor) games A long, good, solid marriage of equals. Or so it seemed. A long good solid marriage, they are.

Or were. Until. Love found our Andy Hardy in the disarming presence of a friend’s daughter. A woman – not a girl – less than half his age. All of which is not exactly new in this world, although the matter is shattering illusions everywhere in them thar hills.
Affairs, estrangements and marriage breakups are often the only “living on the edge” for those people who inhabit small, second-home  communities such as these. The aha! and oh wow! of someone else’s relationship disintegrating, followed by subsequent accounts of slings and arrows reported over the “backyard fence” is the perfect receptacle for our own doubts and unspoken fears.

Furthermore where there’s a lawyer there’s also a big bucks venture in the offing. Which leads to the potential for ugly, and a lot of self-questioning among the lives of those around the triangle.

The inside, unseen drama in those lives thrown asunder, leads to a lot of other things too, such as immeasurable sadness for some, as well as the stark reality of youth slipping deftly away no matter the mirror we're using -- and for good reason: the most successful alliances still require a delicate balance.

Meanwhile, the horses are faithful and loyal. And worthy.

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