Editor’s Note: If you havent been reading along from the beginning, you can see all previous installments leading up to this portion of chapter six here.
The conclusion Abby and I reached, a few hours and another bottle of wine later, was to look up from the navel-gazing and let go of the drama. In short, to walk with Cara through this, however long it took, and support her any way we could—while going on with life. In that vein, she came up with a Halloween group costume that could work as a trio or quartet, though Cara wasn’t showing any more willingness to participate over the next few days than she had initially. We would be characters from Alice in Wonderland: Alice herself, the Queen, the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, etc. Abby graciously offered to a paper-rock-scissors challenge for the coveted role of Alice, the most attractive character of them all, but we let her take the part. Kennedy wanted to be the Queen—said she had a debutante dress from her high school days (bitch still fit into it) that would be perfect—and I picked the Hatter, feeling no ache to strive for a sexy or even attractive look this year. It wasn’t exactly a vow of chastity I was going for—I would have been a little late for that party—but I needed a break from the whole flirting scene, the excitement that went along with a first date followed by the eventual, inevitable disappointment of a match not made. I wanted a fun night out with my girlfriends without the hangover and regret the next day (or at least, the regret). So I forged full-speed ahead on my costume. It was an asexual masterpiece.
I teased my hair out until it was nearly horizontal on either side, then spray-painted it orange. I ordered a tall purple velvet hat online that was made for such a costume—my biggest splurge on behalf of the effort. I packed the makeup on, though rather than sophisticated I went for crazy—eyes that popped out and cheeks that flamed. I found a purple velvet jacket and some men’s plaid polyester pants at Goodwill to finish the look. When I showed up at Kennedy’s for pre-party-hopping cocktails, she opened the door, took one look at me, and gasped, nearly dropping her glass of champagne.
“Dear GOD,” she breathed. “You look like Johnny Depp but…sorry, hon—without the sex appeal.”
I laughed, entering her apartment and heading for the kitchen and my own glass of bubbly. “Perfect,” I said. “That’s exactly what I’m going for. My goal is to be hit on by no one tonight.”
“Well,” she said, looking me up and down, “I think you can bet on success.”
The doorbell rang then, and Kennedy let Abby in. She was the perfect Alice: blue dress with white pinafore, white tights and black patent shoes, blonde wig covering her brunette locks and secured by black headband—and an air of sincere innocence that neither Kennedy nor I could have pulled off. “Well done,” I told her, golf-clapping at her attire.
She burst out laughing. “I’m only saying this because I know you’re not looking to get laid, but you look like something I’ll have a nightmare about later,” she cried, shaking her head.
Kennedy nodded. “We may have to take some pictures without you, sweetheart,” she told me. “You could break the camera.” I laughed, admiring her own costume: she had traded the Helena Bonham Carter-inspired flaming red halo of hair for a soft updo and dyed her white deb dress red. The strapless, flowing number was topped off with a black capelet, and she carried a fake golden scepter that matched her golden tiara. She looked, as usual, flawless and gorgeous. I knew she would have to fight the boys off with that scepter—if she even wanted to.
“Anyone talked to Cara today?” Kennedy asked us. “I left her a message earlier but never heard back.”
Abby shook her head, and I said, “I called her last night to check in. She was still at work at eight and said it had been like that all week. Sounded pretty tired, and definitely out on any last-minute change of heart about tonight.”
“Man,” Kennedy sighed. “I hope she gets back on her feet soon. There are some awesome Christmas parties I’m already hearing about. And, you know, I just want her to feel better.”
Abby and I grinned at each other. We were kicking off Kennedy’s favorite part of the year: holiday season, when every weekend presented a menu of party options. She was, traditionally, like a kid in a candy store as she pulled out her planner during brunch each week to give us the rundown of choices.
“Okay, Kennedy, where are we off to first tonight?” I asked, sipping my champagne.
She raised her finger in the air. “My planner,” she exclaimed, and ran back to her room to retrieve it. She came back with the book and her Blackberry. “I’ve got to type this info into the phone so we can hop around easily.” Her thumbs flew around the keys as she spoke. “We’ve got three solid options tonight, and we can do any or all of them. Whatever you guys want. There’s the SEC Open Bar at Proof for thirty bucks…ooh, should we avoid that? Could be some undesirables in the crowd, and that scepter might make for a dangerous weapon,” she said, nodding toward the couch where the scepter lay.
“Maybe wait on that one? The Reynolds thing, plus the commitment to get our money’s worth may keep us there longer than we want,” Abby volunteered.
I agreed. “Open bar and bad dudes: dangerous words,” I said. “What else?”
Kennedy glanced at her planner. “Okay. Another bar party, no cover, at Cowgirl in the West Village. Ricardo told me about it,” she explained, naming a friend at the PR company where she worked, “so there will probably be a bunch of gay guys, at least before they all leave for Barracuda.”
“That could be fun,” I said, and Abby nodded. “No commitment, plus Ricardo is hilarious. Might be the perfect way to get started.”
“Yep,” Kennedy said, “and the last party is the one where we may want to end up. Lots of potential. It’s at the apartment of a girlfriend of mine from the Junior League. Brand-new building in Tribeca, huge rooftop terrace. And she can be counted on to have a serious bar set-up. Could be our best bet for straight, single guys.”
“Irrelevant to me, but a positive for you two,” I said.
“Sounds perfect,” Abby agreed.
Kennedy held out her glass for a toast, and we raised ours. “To having fun and moving forward,” she said. We clinked glasses, and as I took a gulp, I wished Cara had been there to join in the sentiment.