April 17, 2007
I've never intentionally posed as someone who's on top of the world. Yet, I managed to do just that in front of one of my good friends. Twice.
Early in my Dallas years, I was the lucky recipient of tickets to the annual Margarita Ball. This is a charity event for which the price of admission is a single, unwrapped toy. The reward is all the margaritas you can drink, streaming from assorted fountains around a hotel ballroom full of dandied-up philanthropes having a great big time.
But to get in, you also have to have a ticket. They can't be had for a price, but are dispensed exclusively by the ball's directors, one of whom I met as a fellow board member of the Dallas County Young Republicans. At a meeting, he handed me two, and when I read the fine print ("formal attire"), I nearly laughed out loud. I had just bought a tuxedo, and the rule is you have to wear a tux twice a year to beat the cost of rental. This would be my second black-tie event that season.
I asked the club president, Matthews, if he wanted the second ticket, but he demurred. He planned to have some neighbors over that night to show the inside of his recently restored house, which he'd just moved into. So I called Sanders -- who's always up for drinks -- and we signed up a couple of dates.
At that time I also owned a pair of frequent-flyer tickets I had no intention of using, so I traded them for the night's use of a limousine. I'd also learned long ago that ladies in little black dresses like champagne. Sanders and I were into bourbon that year, so we had the car stocked for everyone's needs.
When we picked the girls up, we found ourselves just a few blocks from Matthews' house with half an hour to go before the ball even started. I suggested we drop in on the party. Sanders agreed, then added the two most apropos words I've ever heard: "With drinks."
We strolled, laughing, into Matthews' living room in full formal attire, accompanied by our slender, sequined dates and ice-cold highballs. The neighbors sat speechless, having forgotten even to stand for the ladies. Matthews directed our party to a tour of the house, and Sanders had the nerve to ask his wife to freshen his drink. Which she did.
After circling the floor plan, admiring the hardwoods, china, and appliances, we left pretty much the same way we came in. No one in the living room had moved. Matthews saw us off from the front porch, and as we clambered into the car I noticed some of the guests craning their necks through the front picture windows, wondering what sort of people this new fellow Matthews would be attracting to their neighborhood. I'd have paid admission to hear him explain to them what they'd just seen.
So we did it again the next year.
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