Thank You for Socialite vs Socialist Antique Parties



Next week, on February 7, I will be a bona fide antique. 

Though I am still in my original packaging and in nearly mint condition—except for a few nicks in my veneer which most collectors don’t really notice—I am an antique.

My friend, Karma, being the great friend she is, asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate my fifty years of life.

“Do you want a big party or a small intimate gathering? Come on, Lea Kel, time is running out. We have to make a plan. Fifty is big. We have to do something to celebrate. You don’t want to look back at your 50th birthday like it was just another day!”

I have been avoiding these questions from my good friend as she has earnestly been trying to plan something special for weeks. Karma’s like that. She’s a good planner and a thoughtful friend.

Yesterday she cornered me like Mardi Gras was coming, as if I hid the Bourbon and forgot my costume. 

She was a little panicked. “We’ve only got nine days! It takes time to organize if you want to have a big party. Do you?”

I couldn’t think. I didn’t know. I was confused and ambiguous. 

Poor Karma, she was trying so hard, being so patient with my ambivalence.

“I’m not really a socialite any more.”  I finally said. “I’m closer to being a socialist.”

“How about a socialist birthday party?”  

That’s kinda like the Socialist Party with a birthday in the middle.

“We can have people bring food if they can, and invite all the hungry people in town to come and eat if they need to.”

Karma said “That’s a lot of people. How are we gonna get a place that big in such a short time?” 

After a silent moment she added “Lea Kelley, there are a lot of hungry people. You can’t feed them all.”

We both got tears in our eyes at the sudden realization that sprang out at us.

I am finding it difficult to balance my gratitude for having so much in my life with the sense of powerlessness to help those who have so little.

How does one justify self indulgent frivolity when one is surrounded with blatant need in others?

Do we “Let them eat cake.” as Marie-Antoinette said when she was told that the French populace had no bread to eat?

I know we cannot forfeit our own joy or celebration of life for the suffering of others, it is not the way to help them. 

But this does force me to wonder about ways to divide a birthday cake or an antiquated social anatomy.


~ by leakelley on January 30, 2009.

6 Responses to “Thank You for Socialite vs Socialist Antique Parties”

  1. Okay, so here I was thinking you were like, 20 (because you are either as immature as me or you are ROCKING *also like me*) and feeling just a titch bitchy because your art is so much better than mine despite your much ‘younger’ age. I’m feeling a *tiny* bit better…and hoping to remain as youthful and cool as you (as to paint as well when I’m your age). And I’d totally show up for cake.

  2. Have your party. Let Karma plan it, she will do well, and you have the ability to find happiness in anything anyway. You can’t use your birthday to save the world, because the world is just too big, and too many people need saving.

    It’s not wretched excess to celebrate important occasions, and the fiftieth anniversary of day of your birth was one of those.

    You spend almost every day of your life helping whenever you can. One day can be spent celebrating you. I hope you leave the Denny’s free breakfast part out though…

    Enjoy the day, and the love surrounding you. Love can’t be a bad thing.


  3. I become an antique this Monday, Feb 2. I wish I could say I was too concerned with others to not obsess about how I was going to mark this momentous occasion. After a friend graciously offered to host a small dinner party for me, I fussed around trying to figure out some way to do some bigger. I needed MORE people to love and admire me. Fortunately, I only spun around like this for a day or two, until I finally decided to be grateful for what was being offered. And eventually, the pressure to do anything subsided. I hope my 50’s will be more about gracious acceptance than frantic self-absorbtion.

    Happy Birthday, Lea Kelley!

  4. Funny thing about antiques, they begin to get more and more valuable. No more markdowns on the “last year’s style” rack. And don’t mess with the patina or you’ll devalue the product. Just stand there and soak in the real you that is finally beginning to emerge. Happy Birthday.

  5. I love what anhinga said…

    Happy Birthday. I hope it proves a joyous occasion.

  6. So. do you know what you wanna do for your birthday yet?

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