People Watching at the Great Gatsby Gala

Great Gatsby Gala




“I hated reading the Great Gatsby in high school.  Didn’t you?” I asked my husband as I stepped into my new black sequined flapper dress. We were ten minutes late for the gala, and I tore a few beads from the hem rushing to pull it up to my shoulders.

“I didn’t read it,” he replied as he stepped over impatiently to zip me up.  I kissed him on the cheek and straightened his bow tie, then walked to the mirror to review myself before walking out the door.

“Well, I didn’t finish reading the book.  I read the Cliff’s Notes. It was awful for a high school kid.  The story was so sad…the Great Gatsby and Daisy fall in love, stuff happens in the middle, then he dies.”  The ringlet curls in my hair were still plastered with hairspray where my hairdresser left them, and my faux-vintage crystal earrings dangled just right below the stiff wisps.  The lips needed a little more red lipstick, because I just assumed that flappers wore red lipstick. Flappers were daring back in the 1920s, and red must have been the color for them, though sadly they exist now only in black and white pictures on a Google Images search for “flapper,” and fun, short GIFs on the internet.


“Forget the story.  Let’s go.  We’re going to a Great Gatsby gala, not book review.  Let’s go have some fun!”

So, he whisked me out the door of our room at the Ritz Carlton and we made our way to a gala straight out of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s mind, full of glitz and glamour fit for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby on the big screen.  The gala was thrown by an association of oral surgeons in the city, and my husband, a dentist, and I entered a venue full of dental people dressed to the nines and having a ball. A handful of guests wore modern cocktail dresses and sport coats, but the rest rocked the roaring twenties look.  We were surrounded by gangsters in hats and striped suits, and flappers with feather headbands and long cigarette holders and feather boas.  There was even a blond Daisy-Buchanan-Carey-Mulligan look alike gliding on the dance floor in a long silver gown. The people watching was amazing.

As we mingled, I kept wondering what these people’s stories were.  I guess the writer in me is always trying to figure people out, and maybe formulate new material for my stories. The lady next to me at the bar, with the big black feathers in her hair and the boa that made her sneeze…was there drama in her life?  Or the man with the plastic machine gunacross the table from us…what about his life?  Was there any Gatsby-esque forbidden love, jealous murders, or hit and runs in their dental practice, oral surgeon lives?  What lay behind the veneers of roaring good times among the hundreds of people there?

Gatsby love

Were these people the fodder for my next short story?  Could I write something about the roaring twenties that high school kids would want to read in modern times?I couldn’t wait to imagine it on the page when I got home. But, in the meantime, we danced to the big band on stage, stuffed ourselves at the banquet, and enjoyed some drinks as if we were in a speakeasy nearly one hundred years ago.  The next morning, it was all over when we pulled into our driveway to meet the grandparents and the kids, waiting eagerly for us to get back.  Back to dinner plans, homework plans, and Sunday lacrosse practices.

Back to reality, until I could sit down at my laptop again that night, and the characters could live on.

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