WHAT WOULD COLE PORTER DO?
They gatsbied onto the dance floor, parquet reflecting the gleam of the many jewels
(Paste, of course) in her imitation Cartier necklace.
The rock in his pinky ring, however was the real thing, bought in a cheap hock shop
For pennies on the dollar.
He asked no questions about its provenance. They wouldn’t have given him any
Answers anyway. The down-on-his luck
Boyo who pawned it didn’t provide any back then either.
He was in tails, superstarched (must’ve been awful itchy) white shirt and natty red
Bow tie. “He sure looks swell,”
She thought, in her slinky oh so shimmery silky cocktail dress, paislies looking like
Amoebas that had too much bathtub gin,
With the little fringies along the hem and bodice, straight up and down. No curves-
This was the ‘20’s after all.
Voluptuousness, like bustles, completely out of style.
Thought she was the bee’s knees, a flapper’s flapper, thoroughly up on everything,
Knew it all, been things and seen places.
If he thought of her at all, she was only the knees, bees having nothing to do with it.
When he did cogitate, IF he cogitated,
It was about his trust fund from dear old dad, the ticker tape spewing dollar signs,
And the next Volstead act violation
From his bootlegger. Aristotle he wasn’t, nor Romeo.
Not a the dansant this, but a full fledged wingding held at an anonymous plutocrat’s
Beachfront estate in the Hamptons,
The GOOD Hamptons, that is, not the towns where the pretenders and nouveau riche
Set up their imitation pleasure palaces.
To ape the real American aristocrats, the ones who had made their dough swindling
Indians or killing foreigners in sweat shops.
They loved their host, whoever he was.
The band struck up a catchy tune, a fox trot or quickstep. The Charleston? Certainly
Not. Maybe when they went slumming,
But this was a classy affair, and the dance that was all the rage for Joe College and his
Pals was far too déclassé for here
At this time, in this place. The swing was graceful, with a soupcon of syncopation. The
20’s could roar someplace else, anywhere
But here, not that anyone would care.
After all, this was Cole Porter, George Gershwin, dressing gowns and ascots, long, long
Cigarette holders, not cigars,
Derbies, cheap suits. That was Tin Pan Alley, and reeked of sweat and pheromones. One
Didn’t perspire here, it was bad form, she
Cool looking as the imitation ice draped around her neck. Black white and formal he, for
All the world looking like a big
Emperor penguin, ridiculous and sexless.
But such thoughts never entered their soi disant sophisticated minds. Thoughts of any kind
Seldom did as they whirled around
Totally oblivious to the nothing that was going on inside of their empty heads, blind to the
Lives those not like them led,
Blind to the impending cataclysm. Too much capitalism and too little alcohol-a powerful
Emetic, would make Wall St. vomit;
The gala ball would end too soon, and they would quickly learn
How the other half lived.
Chip Bergeron 7/30/09