The glittering whirl of this debutante season, much like the glittering whirl of debutante seasons already passed, is surely uninterruptible! Uninterruptibility is as integral a component of debutante season as the glittering whirl. Year after year, season after season, my upper-class chums and I return to the same sparkling succession of flower shows, test matches, regattas, exhibitions, concerts, boat races, derbies, cotillions, trials, color weeks, hurricane parties, saturnalias, gavottes, gazeteering, oyster flipping, orchestra hunting, and idle jabs. No single outsider, no matter how unfamiliar with our ways, could ever disrupt this annual tradition, nor any of our places in it. I don’t care how excessive their candor, how initially charming their wide-eyed bedazzlement at our upper-class ways, how disarming their earnest lower-class striving, how amusing their slavish devotion, how endearing their desire to earn their keep, how agreeable their conversation, how fluent their command of Italian, how well-cut their single party-appropriate outfit, how satisfying their gushing gratitude at our gracious offer of proximity and cast-offs, how thrilling their single-minded obsessive desire to replace and replicate and recreate us! This is a way of life that simply cannot be disturbed by any force, much less a single individual whose freshness and desperation diverts us at a few garden parties. Let’s invite this stammering outsider – whose stammer, now that I come to think of it, has disappeared as of late – as a matter of fact this stammering outsider has turned into something of a suave change artist, without our ever quite noticing it, haven’t they? – around as often as we like, for one season only, before moving on to some distant outpost on our international circuit.
Yes, this hungry-eyed interloper will slip out of our circles as easily as they slipped in. Perhaps a well-placed barb will restore the old jolly equilibrium, and remind them of the unspoken rules of engagement we all abide by. Or a sudden reversal of friendliness, delivered on a whim. Or a collective, exquisitely-orchestrated public humiliation, or a careless snub without explanation – any would do. Or a last-minute decamping to the French Riviera, all the while promising to leave a ticket to join us in their name that never arrives.
Ridiculous, of course, to even speculate about by which means my upper-class chums and I might decide to later drop our barnacle! Barnacles fall off by themselves, given sufficient time and concentration of salinity – although I’d never tell my harbormaster I felt that way. Our safety is assured, beyond our safety, our consistency is assured, beyond our consistency, our self-replication is assured, beyond our self-replication, our assurance is assured. No degree of candor, of class-hunger, of money-longing, of pathetic striving, of sympathetic flat-chestedness, of tailoring either of one’s jacket or one’s personality, of careful convenience, of miscommunication, of misplaced affections, of unrequited passions, of misunderstood meaning, of secret poverty or disguised resentment or open hostility, could possibly threaten the world we’ve propped on so many backs and feet! Welcome them in – welcome them all in – let them flow ever upwards, ever within, shaking our hands and sharing our girlfriends’ dressing rooms and tasting our soup courses and borrowing our shirts and absorbing our cruelties and celebrating our victories and meeting our gracious mothers and using our clubs and learning our secrets and picking up whatever we drop on the floor overnight – the debutante season glitters on, and not even the clumsiest dancer could interrupt our whirling onward! Welcome, dear heart – shut up and welcome!