Swelter

Truly a splendid affair, akin to the no-holds-barred bashes of college, the tide inevitably turning with one wise ass staring at our party and finally muttering, "Simon, right? And you must be Garfunkel?" The unsettling encounter inspiring an unforgivable lapse into lameness, actually finding ourselves calling out to another middle-age guy ("Hey, you're as old as we are") as the music suddenly stopped and everyone began snickering. A simple enough party, but somehow the intimacy proved to be overwhelming. The women were immediate, not just a fantastical backdrop; without the omnivorous power structure of clubs, we were directionless and virtually invisible. In a long career spanning every possible permutation of society, we have crashed wedding receptions in Istanbul, bellied up to the cocktail cart in Newport mansions, spent endless evenings with stunning beauties of both sexes. And never, until that moment, had we experienced perfect social agony, the abyss of being out of sync. But in the end it's nothing, a trifle allayed by the benediction of everyday graces: love, family, friends who understand the rules and the jokes, wonderful jobs where the colder realities of life can be suspended for a time. God grant us all tender mercies and simple blessings.

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