|Looking back upon that summer, through the haze
of chauffeurs and carriages and ostrich-plumed hats along the drive of
my neighbor the Meister's house, many of the goings-on and those that did
the going seemed indistinguishable at first, like eminent clots within
a monied and fabulous amoeba. But finding my notes, jotted in the overly
conscientious script of a post-midnight inebriate, I recalled again the
many memorable parties within that, the grandest party of them all.
There was J.B. Stitchum who made his fortune in flypaper and was the first man ever seen wearing yellow-tinted sun shades, and Sinclair Straits who smashed his yacht "The Spanking New" into a lock along the Champlain canal when he heard Harding got the nomination.
There was Dulcimer Flutonius, a scion of the Byzantine line touring the Continent billed as "Mistress of the Harmonium," and the philosopher-novelist Gretchen Fortune, whose mellifluous voice and silver sandals kept the illuminati a-buzz all summer.
There was Little Mickey the horse jockey, crop in hand, turning the glasshouse into a rose-choked orgy, and Toothpick Jake, a farmer cum guitarist whose rag "The Broken Tractor Walk" became the anthem of August.
There was Rutherford Sampson the pig-iron magnate advocating use of the hula-hoop at all fraternal orders, and Leonine Scrimpens, universally accepted as a calamitous lunatic despite her turning the Daily Picayune into the leading organ of the masses.
There were the white Oliphaunts and the black Oliphaunts, endlessly feuding until the Duchess Bleuvin, fresh from a sunken ocean liner, instilled such a fear in both sets that they ceased their wayward bickering and headed en masse to the hills.
There was the gossip columnist Miss Airedale, with her companion Miss Longstroke, daring to mention Jimmy the Slant's ear horn in the Wednesday Supplement, causing both to be banished from the head table.
There was Tory Chanteuse the ladies' table tennis champion, Magruder Pickett, self-styled "Last of the Copperheads," and Billy Steadfast, the Okie oil millionaire, miraculously building a horseshoe pit at the bottom of the pool.
There was Talisman Jackson the occultist séance queen who dyed her champagne orange, and Jeremiah Sansjoye, gunslinging son of the Cincinnati produce dealer Jehovah Sansjoye, blasting the glass off Miss. Jackson's perfectly round head.
There was Lilith Griffin, a beauty of such striking physique and grey eyes, wearing beaded, see-through dresses fashioned entirely of opals, that she received thirty confirmed marriage proposals by Independence Day.
There was Lipscombe Burdock, a violent maestro able to play all of Chopin's nocturnes on solo bassoon, and the Highland Tinsels, Glendon and Serena, who gave fly-casting lessons from the expanse of the Meister's family mausoleum.
There was Sanderson F. Sand, the eminent Roman historian, carrying an hourglass at all times in order to blunt his own prolonged monologues, and Theodosia Baal, arriving not once but twice bare-breasted in a litter sedan carried by her similarly unclad maid staff.
There was Z. Krakow the expatriate Polish poet who wept openly whenever the subject of ponds came up, and the recently-knighted explorer L. Scott Absconde, claiming he'd ascertained the secret of the Trojan ruins while passed out in his mother-in-law's Channel Island water closet.
There was the psychiatrist Gustav Mandrake, a serpentine pervert and the only person ever asked to leave the grounds, and Robert "The Great" Rouncival, escape artist extraordinaire infuriating many during his performance on the tower balcony with a scotch cask and wristwatch.
There was Chenowith Redeemer the temperance organizer growing so riled by the courtside antics that she bared her bottom to the howling, tennis-whited throng, and Muley Haas, strongman of the Five Points, bending quarters with his toes alone.
There was Lucky Corcoran, barred from every poker table that side of the Ohio except the Meister's, and Beulah Finch, the hair pomade heiress who took to a canopied guest bed with the irrevocable decision to lie there and die.
Finally, all the time, there was myself, in flannels and a borrowed belt, waiting until summer's end to propose to Lilith Griffin, her answer making me realize why there are stars in the night.
All these people were seen on the Meister's lawn
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