Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Donald is marrying today

The Donald is marrying today in my backyard.

Well not literally my backyard. Palm Beach, just a long stone’s throw away from my back yard. The reception will be held at Mar-a-Lago, his modest Florida home. Said festivities will take place in the very modest $42 million Versailles ballroom, replete with 17 crystal chandeliers, 24-k gold leaf moldings and a marble floor just tres perfect for dancing. Melania Knauss’s dress (will she hyphen to Knauss-Trump?) is wearing, sshhhhhhh!! It’s a secret. But all the world knows her gown is a $100,000+ strapless Dior, that was featured on the cover of Vogue, and took 550 hours to embroider and has acres of white satin and a train that’s longer than Amtrak.

Guests will include Billy Joel, Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood and David Letterman. The town council of Palm Beach nixed The Donald’s request for fireworks shot off in his 5+ acre backyard. Oh pooh! Well, rain on my parade, why don’t you, town council?

I checked my mailbox this week to see if my wedding invite was delayed. Alas, it wasn’t. The sad truth is, I’m not invited.

Ironically, about 20 years ago, I would have given ANYTHING for a glimpse at The Donald.. I used to work in Palm Beach as a reporter for a society newspaper.

I’d prowl Worth Avenue, notebook in hand, peering at the rows of Bentley’s and Rolls, and black-tinted limos in vain hope for just a peek at that man. I attended the theater, recitals, lectures and even black tie society balls. It was my first reporting job and I was caught up in the glitz and fairytale like opulence that is Palm Beach in The Season. Our offices were guarded by a chic receptionist with blood red dragon nails who used to hiss at the hordes of old biddies who would stampede our office to eagerly grab the latest edition to see if their photo was featured. Then they would buy oodles of copies to have something to crow over during meals with the girls at Ta-boo or Café L’Europe or Testa’s.

The invites to all the society balls would stream into our offices like winter snow. I’d walk outside our offices and see Rolls Royces or Bentley’s parked there, like smug, superior thoroughbreds next to my aging, faded Nissan.

I remember my first Palm Beach gala. I was petrified of not doing a good job. The society editor advised me thus, “Dahling, just grab the guest list, make a note of who’s there, jot down some notes on how beautiful it all is and have a good time.” Easy enough. I sat at my assigned table and guzzled champagne that cost more than my monthly salary and got tipsy. I entertained my dinner companions by making sly remarks about a well-endowed young lady dripping in emeralds who was accompanied by a much much much older man. They hooted while she sat, batting her long eyelashes, at her man.

The best times though, were sitting and yaking with the cops. Cops always have great stories. Palm Beach cops have wonderful stories. Like the call they received to rescue this older gentleman found dangling from a second story balcony. Naked. Attached to said balcony by a pair of handcuffs.

But all during my crazy tenure at the newspaper, I never once saw my dream man, The Donald. I never made it inside Mar-a-Lago, though my editor did. She returned looking dreamy and distant, like someone who’d been transported to a fairyland or was cranked up on acid.

I’d drive by Mar-a-Largo and stare for the five seconds it took to pass it on the bend, and crane my neck to see if The Donald might be out sunbathing on the lawn or ordering his minions about.

And time passed and I went on to a real reporting job and I forgot all about The Donald. Palm Beach became a distant memory.

And now my haunts aren’t Worth Avenue and the cute little cafes or the immense, glittering ballrooms of The Breakers. They’re slums and shantytowns and garbage dumps.

Next week I’m in Honduras, touring a garbage dump. I’ll be writing stories of the families who live there in cardboard and plastic homes, and dig through the rotting trash for food and things to sell to stave off hunger.
Chances are I’ll never see The Donald in person. Our paths will never cross.

I think I can live with that. Besides, that hair…

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