After performing at Rebecca Wild Baxters 60th birthday bash on Edgartown Pond, with Rusty Scott on piano, Todd Baker on bass and some great Peruvian on drums, we – Rebecca and her entourage – were invited for cocktails at the home of someone with a winter home in Sarasota and six pugs. Only one pug was in attendance and he played with my dog, Howard. The house was very large and the nice rich people served sliced tenderloin for dinner, with homemade macaroons for desert. Homemade macaroons have big fresh strings of coconut sticking out all over them.
The best part of the evening, besides the macaroons and listening to he ex-editor of Life Magazine wax poetic were the deep dish plates of shelled fresh crab served on the back patio with hefty paper plates and forks. The large plates suggested that crab nuggets were a major part of the evening menu . I was able to heap my plate full of the shamefully good crab tidbits without feeling like a pig.
After the crab we were invited into the parlor where I was asked to sing for nothing. In this case, for the crab I suppose. Before I started singing I asked the hostess what was for dinner. If it was meatloaf, I would sing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” if it was on par with the crab, I would sing whatever she wanted. She requested “What’ll I do?” and then brilliantly turned my performance into a name-that-tune game, whereby I would speak the first line of a lyric and the guests would guess the tune. The ex-editor of Life Magazine was the hands down winner. Second runner up was Kay Kipling, editor of Sarasota Magazine, who bamboozled the crowd with her successful guess at a Kurt Weill lyric. I was sitting on the floor, cross-legged, my cheap plastic sandals highlighted against the plush vanilla crème colored carpet. I saw some of the guests glancing at my feet and then away, with an immediate recognition of my status, talent or not. I looked at my sandals, too, and concluded that I did not care about sandals. I could afford nice sandals but truly thought they were a waste of money, being that they are often in the dirt, rain, sand, etc.
Rebecca leaned over behind me and said “You’re blowing it” — After the macaroons I asked her what she meant. “You had a chance to blow those people away in there and you sat down and did a sing-a-long. You blew it. Those people could help you”
Rebecca does not understand that those people cannot help me. They do not want to help me. They want me to entertain them with sing-a-longs and placate me with crab. They know my price. I am Irish. My price will not rise with inflation. It’s just the way I am, which is why, once again, I ask my readers to send me money.
I ended the performance with the song “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” because Howard and the pug were square dancing in the middle of the room, doing a one-up and a one-behind, and the guests blushed when my lyrics brought attention to their free form antics. Suddenly, I noticed the guests were all wearing off-pink. Jackets, ties, pants, hats, belts. Off-pink, with either gray or navy counter-colors. The fabric of the off-pink attire was either silk or linen. I wondered if they were all members of the same Alma-mater or secret Christian community. I later learned that off-pink is the color of the season according to Town and Country. As the dogs fornicated and got stuck together, everyone meandered into dinner while Brad McCourtney, famed Sarasota photographer, pried the dogs apart with a fireplace utensil.
Despite this glitch in the weekend, Rebecca’s birthday bash was a grand success despite the deluge of rain. The sopping mess of the field. The damp air that caused my amplifier to crackle ear-splitting mono-syllables through the tent and across the pond, vibrating with the thunder, melting the ice in the coolers, resurrecting controlled family feudings. The smell of danger and gin. Mark Famiglio and his beautiful new bride didn’t give a shit. He laughed through that sheepish grin of his as she danced in white sneakers to memory lane Motown music.
There was a port-o-potty that was never utilized due to an originally designed out-house by Sarasota D.A., Larry ______, which resembled the smaller shack in the novel, Tobacco Road.
Torches lit the way through the downpour, and suddenly a display of fireworks erupted over the grave of Rebecca’s brother, Michael Wild, and the night sky backdrop turned sparkling and horribly strange, as we all considered gunpowder and lightening and rain and ghosts.
I sang “If I Had a Hammer” because I found I had a hammer in my hand. The one I was using as a Judge’s gavel, as I attempted to auction off a few acres of Rebecca’s property so that she and I could take another trip to Bangkok, and, in fact, never have to worry about rich people paying or not paying us again. Speaking of which, Mark Famiglio, are you ever going to pay me for M.C’ing your Sarasota Film Festival Dog Show? Why not? I mean, why would you, being so successful, deprive a poor middle aged woman of a few bucks. A power play? For What? You know you don’t have any power over people like me. Get used to it.
Thanks to neighbor, David Malm, who offered me the isolation of his guest house, I was able to get through the weekend without a black-out. David, who may be in love with my daughter, Channing, was nonetheless very generous and courageous, knowing the company I keep. I hope his hot tub is not permanently damaged. The other neighbor, David Letterman, was not in attendance. We invited him to a soiree last year at Camp Becky, and he did not RSVP because he is famous. Famous people cannot go to neighborly soirees with people who are not famous. That is a hard pressed rule that has something to do with appearances, privacy and fear for one’s life. It is so sad, because David Letterman would have appreciated the sloppy mess of humanity celebrating 60 years of one of the world’s most outrageous women, REBECCA WILD BAXTER, famed photographer for Sarasota Magazine and owner of some property for sale in the Vineyard. E mail me for details.