Dark thoughts in a black tie

We went to a black-tie  fund-raising dinner  for a nonprofit (Trinity Rep) last night in Newport. It may be my last after having attended dozens of these events over the years.

Yet again, I ask myself: Why not ditch these interminable, loud and often pompous affairs and just send money to these fine  and always needy  nonprofit outfits? (And I'm more conscious of the  cost of going to these things these days because I no longer have a regular salaried job and because for 30 years I'd be, in effect, ordered to go to them by companies that employed me that would usually pay my tab.  Corporate PR.)

Last night was the usual claustrophobic march from cocktails to the much too long general remarks and then the introductions of the prize winners of the night, in this case  of some Pell Awards for the Arts. The introducers, as  typical at these things, talked too much about themselves as we sat in folding chairs in a wind-battered tent. But a couple of the prize winners (whom I think might consider us semi-personal friends -- why we attended) were admirably concise in their acceptance remarks.

I was again surprised by the four-letter words and other reflections of the growing crudeness of our society in the remarks of some of the speakers. Depressing. But seeing how much some people had aged since I last saw them elicited my zoological interest. It recalled Proust's description of the old men and women in the last part of In Search of Lost Time whom he had known when they were young and fresh.

Then  we went to the  usual skimpy catered meal, in which the  (very cheery) waiters seem to have been rigorously instructed to give diners the very minimum amount of wine. And then we were one night older....

-- Robert Whitcomb