Swelter 13

Our summer vacation, a busman's holiday amidst the rich pageant of New York, taken up for the season by Patrick McMullan of Interview, mindful of the great social oracle's dictum: Remember, it's not who you are that's important. It's who you're standing next to." "A week of lurking around and occasionally even engaging a bewildering array of the fabulati, jump-starting a sluggish existence in the city of ambition.

Primed for fun and frolics, gathering force at a Tiffany's reception, a designer salute to summer table settings, the guests -- Blaine Trump, Kenneth Jay Lane, Christopher Makos, nightlife juggernaut Sylvia Miles -- representing the collusion of seemingly disparate worlds. Hooking up with Miles, conveniently limoing around town with impresaria Caroline Hirsch for a literary land gathering at Elaine's, Lewis Lapham and Kurt Vonnegut adding tone. Back in the limo, on to a drink at Sarah and George Plimpton's Upper East Side apartment, Miles pointedly not buying our just-visiting-old-friends-nobody-you'd-know routine. A graceful moment arranged by Miami novelist Brian Antoni, the Plimptons off to Martha's Vineyard the following day, George full of great anecdotes: A society band violinist cutting in on Isaac Stern's solo at a Ben Bradlee party; the station wagon breaking down on the New Jersey turnpike, nonblue bloods screaming, "People like you should be arrested!"; the quite remarkable decadence of the Halloween party at Hell last year.

Sliding downtown, dinner at the way-too-trendy Yahnell with Campion Platt of the Mercer Hotel and the Merc Bar, Antoni's ICM agent Heather Schroder, and assorted card-carrying members of the glamour industries. The big entrance at the Twin Peaks-meets-SoHo Merc Bar, our group very importantly ensconced in a private room, unsettlingly removed from all the noise and friction, an Antonioni study in ultra-chic alienation come to life. The first night proving to be the lull before the storm, three days on the battleground of Manhattan, operating perilously close to exhaustion and nonexistential nausea. Bouncing back from the brink, the social ascent accelerating into warp speed hyper-fabulousity, Fourth of July weekend in the Hamptons. A train ride with Patrick's son Liam to Huntington, Long Island, the McMullan family home and birthplace of Walt Whitman, the literary legend now honored with his very own shopping mall. Family stories and pizza with Connie and Patrick Sr., the sweetest people on Earth, trolling down afterward to the Bridgehampton retreat of fashion designer Nicole Miller. Ecstatic beyond measure, romping around the house like a snobbish cocker spaniel, jumping into the scene with dinner at 95 Church Street, year-round resident/B-52 Fred Schneider bracing for the annual invasion of the chattering classes: "The locals hate this time of year; the town becomes just another dimension of New York."

Up at the crack of noon the following day, milling about, angling for A-list invitations: pretty much like New York with trees, architectural inflictions plopped in potato fields, arugula-driven restaurants. Off to a benefit for the Hamptons International Film Festival, the preternaturally tolerant Miller (a steady dose of our company being enough to drive anyone insane) opening a SoHo store shortly and setting an agreeable note of bicoastal stylishness: "You know, somebody was just talking about you in L.A." The Hamptonia-goes-Hollywood crowd, a clash of the second-string titans, floating about a frontier town stage set: actors Chevy Chase and Griffin Dunne; Steven Gaines, hard at work on a long-delayed Calvin Klein dish book; Herb Ross and Lee Radziwill, pleasant in a shadow-of-Jackie manner: "It is a nice evening, isn't it?" Barbra Streisand sensibly remaining in her hired car, opting to avoid the ugly press.

Dinner at Sappore di Mare, perky WASPs in patriotic outfits, romance novelist Susan Sontag and photographer Annie Leibovitz -- last year's hot item, apparently -- dining together. The art-a-rama theme coming up again on Day Three, champagne with Manuel Gonzalez of the Chase Manhattan Art Program, Gonzalez staying at the home of collector Elaine Dannheiser. Everybody piling into Dannheiser's limo, taking in Grey Gardens along the way, the former home of Lee/Jackie cousin Edie Beale (now occupied by Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn) directly across the street from Steven Spielberg's place, Spielberg offending the populace with a proposal to build a Jurassic-style barn on top of an eight-foot mound. Lunch at the stainless steel East Hampton outpost of Miami collectors Mera and Don Rubell, children Jason and Jennifer up for the weekend, the guests including an old neighbor from our Coral Gables years A it's a cozy little seven-degrees-of-separation world, after all. A swim at the A-art beach, David Salle plunging into the surf, rap culture legend Russell Simmons in tow with his usual posse of beautiful white girls, a major perk of black success.

Celebrating the All-American tribal rite, fireworks, barbecue, and jingoistic wallowing, at the late Don Aranow's home, now owned by general rich person Neal Hirsch, Caroline's ex-husband. The name game entering the celestial realm, an agitated guest lobbing celebs: "Would you mind if Donna and Steve stopped by? Of course that means Babs and Billy and Christy --you know, that whole crowd." Alan Alda and Peter Boyle actually turning up, along with Ron Perelman of Revlon, Barry Diller, Sandy Gallin, and the Calvin Kleins, Kelly working on a new book: "I can't tell you what it's about -- but it's really sexy." The Great Gatsby, updated for the Nineties: the vast red-white-and-blue party tent, the hired trailer with bathrooms, fireflies dancing in the shrubbery, a real-life haunting blue light glimmering across the water. Dancing under the stars, a private pyrotechnic display coordinated to a medley featuring "America the Beautiful" and a disco version of "Yankee Doodle Dandy," Klein and company talking about workout instructors and tattoo artists, the truly important modern lifestyle adjuncts. Our own thoughts, maddeningly enough, drifting to missed crashing opportunities. Nothing is ever enough for the relentless.

Winding down the last day of Arcadia, inevitably, with more socializing. A cameo at a top-boy pool party, sleek little seals in Speedos, an idyllic lunch in Sag Harbor, sailboats gliding by on the water, a screening of the new Marky Mark exercise video ("Yo, this body has gotten me places") as a perverse postprandial treat. The gang moving on to a beyond-charming East Hampton home for a power pit stop, the hosts embroiled in a nasty fight, throwing dishes across the kitchen. Our leader breezing through the war zone, making introductions and heading out to the pool, ugly screaming cutting through the surrealistically pleasant setting. And then it's Patrick, floating around on a raft, halfheartedly discussing Hinduism with artist Marcus Leatherdale, delivering the final coda for the smart set: "Today I only believe in the religion known as the Hamptons.