Well, I survived “the first day of school” which is so so so different than it was what, 20 years ago? How long have I been doing this? I guess more like 13. The thing that’s always been hard for me in my vague efforts at “homeschooling”—those are scare quotes in case you were wondering—is the just hanging around. I suppose a more holy person would call it a “ministry of presence.” What it really amounts to is that whenever you think you can do something else, like read a book, you are immediately interrupted by a child who needs something. So basically you have to sit still with your hands folded, or you can scroll through the internet. This is my own fault. When I was trying to teach some squirrely uninterested kid to read at least I had something to do, but I’ve always pushed hard for the independence of the child, as far as it can be had. Which means that now I’m basically a reference person. I sit in the living room and answer everyone’s questions all day. All the questions.
Why doesn’t my mic work? How do you spell Zeus? When can I have a new pair of cleats? When does piano start? When you were a kid did you ever wonder if you were a test subject and every other person was an alien? This is before the text messages floating in—Can you come get me? Can you read my paper? Do I have to clean the kitchen?
I sit down at my desk with my computer, thinking that we will “all do our work,” but my “work” turns out to be an amalgamation of guilt and distraction. I surf the web, answer a question, check my email, answer a question, read a third of an article, answer a question, and so the very long day wears on.
One of the things I did yesterday while a child was trying to spell her way out of a paper bag was gape at the people arriving at the Met Gala and pausing in the lengthy course down the carpet to be interviewed by a couple of famous people working for Vogue. I gawked a lot of people I had never heard of, occasionally picking out the truly famous–Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X–being adored in a sort of desultory way by all the people taking pictures.
The theme this year is “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” One person explained that being American means “being true to who you are.” Another person said something about “pushing the boundaries.” Billie Eilish said it “was time for this”—the big fancy dress that is. Her inspiration was the holiday barbie, which she adored as a child.
Because I’m a bad person, I kept watching and heard a lot of other super interesting responses. One really gorgeous woman, talking faster than I could type, when asked what American fashioned meant to her, said that it meant “all the things,” and that it is “a gorgeous expression of her inner self” and that it is “leading us forward into what’s ahead.” She said this with abundant good humor, the absolute joy of being out of the house and being able to wear something that wasn’t sweats radiating from her whole being.
Another of my favorites was a gorgeously tall person wearing, by his own description, a “macrame top” inspired I think by bloggers but I may have misheard. It was his own design, an “Afro futurist luxury brand” that is all about “escapism and fantasy.” Also, I did love the excessively beautiful person wearing a big ball dress that was, she said, “a tarot card,” because there is “nothing more American than a tarot card.” And another person who said, “This feels like the America we all know—beautiful people.”
Overall, I would say that two themes dominated (at least during the two hours I devoted my attention to this important American experience). The greater and more abundant thoughts and feelings gushed out by a preponderance of party goers was that they were very very very happy to be out and about, to be seeing people. Secondarily, there were the people who “came with a message,” for, as the beautiful Vogue person said, “You can’t go wrong if you have a message.”
Many people had messages. Lil Nas X’s main message was, of course, himself and his own sex appeal. Then there was the person with the weird green baby robot. No one quite understood what his message was, though it was clear that he did, indeed, have one. There was also the very disappointingly dressed message of that American soccer player who didn’t win at the Olympics. Her message was printed on her clutch: “In gay we trust.” She simpered at the camera as if her message was so very clever, but I wasn’t particularly impressed because her hair color really did clash very badly with her badly cut suit. Then there was the message of an older very beautiful blond woman who wore a dress made of those sort of old-fashioned suffragette sashes emblazoned with Equal Rights for Women or some such stunningly brave thought. Like so many people on Twitter, I did wonder what sort of rights she is wanting that she doesn’t yet have. Is it her desire to go fight a man self-identifying as a woman in an MMA ring? Because she can already do that. A job? Surely she has one, though I don’t know what it is. Before I could really think more about it, however, AOC appeared in her Chic-Fil-A-inspired get-up (that’s another Twitter interpretation)–a white dress painted with red paint. The big red lettering didn’t read “Buy Moar Chkn” or anything. Instead, it said “tax the rich” and, when asked about it, AOC said it was all about inspiring everyone to think about “what it means to be working-class women of color at the Met.” The Vogue interviewer, passing the baton back to the other camera crew, looking, no lie, not particularly overawed by this message, said, in what I feel like should be the motto for the year, “She models a message…we would expect nothing less.”
On the whole, I feel like this was a really good use of my Monday evening. I know I have a pile of writing work to do, and I’m not done with The Lord of the Rings, and I could have scrubbed out my fridge, and I could have gone around and drug children back to their math and whatever else. But honestly, the first day of school needs a treat. And I think being lectured to through fashion, and indulging in the boring irony of watching a very rich “influencer” going to a super expensive party to announce that “the rich” should be taxed, when she probably doesn’t intend to be very taxed herself, as if she is still (though of course she once was) a “working class” person is, in fact, all that I have come to expect.
And now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go put on my Met Gala inspired Chinese tennis shoes and go about my morning which first includes dealing with an elderly and incontinent cat. Have a nice day!