Now I know what it feels like to be a hooker in Amsterdam or Thailand - or any of those places where rows of prostitutes sit in windows or open cubicles offering their wares.
I got to experience this at the Saturday East Hampton Library Benefit. As one of roughly 120 authors, I sat at a long table cheek by jowl with other scribblers. Stacks of my new novel "Conscience Point" sat piled on the table before me, along with a placard bearing my name.
At the stroke of 5:30 hordes of book lovers and party-goers (the pay-to-play crowd) started filing by to check out the merchandise. A woman scrutinized "Conscience Point"'s jacket (alluring), flap copy (enticing), jacket photo (flattering) ... Then: "I don't read fiction," she said, before moving on. Some drifted by with an apologetic smile - sorry I prefer brunettes with big boobs. If I'd been doing a pole dance on the table I would have felt less exposed.
Finally I scored. Then again ... kachung! The merch was moving, the pile of books getting lower. My former shrink bought a copy. My daughter's friend's mom bought a copy. A woman with a disarranged face -- and excellent taste, clearly -- bought a copy. I'm still thinking about her. Along came a former boyfriend who's part of the novel's DNA ... You never knew who was going to file past! He didn't buy a copy.
Now, overall the library benefit is a very sweet event. The library is the town's jewel in the crown, a haven for bibliophiles, children, year-rounders - not to mention writers who plug in laptops in air conditioned carrels; a refuge of beauty and tranquility amidst the madness that is summer season out here. May its coffers fill to overflowing.
But this being the Hamptons, at the benefit you couldn't escape a certain concern with status and ranking that marks the area as much as any community of gorillas. At one table near the entrance sat the bold face names and heavy hitters: Alec Baldwin, Jay McInerney, Candace, etc. And one age-defiying celeb I'm loathe to identify (hey, I'm in enough trouble). She was done up, hair to toes, in shades of gold and so exquisitely strung together and ... maybe "repurposed" is the word I'm searching for - she looked like she might at any moment simply crack apart. The fans patiently queued up before the bold faces waiting for an autograph, a bit of face time. The celeb nodded, a portrait of empathy. I doubted she could hear what anyone said.
Me, I was positioned behind and upwind of bold face-ville between the author of "Delectable Italian Dishes for Family and Friends" and a work pitched as "Bright Lights meets Big Ass." Its author said she was thrilled to be seated right behind icons, such as Jay McInerney.
During a lull in sales I decided to re-up at the bar and get pro-active. I horned in on a photo op with Anne Heche who's straight again. Author Stephen Gaines told me that WLIU, the local radio station, would soon be by to interview me. Hola! I'm still waiting. I told the golden celeb we'd gone to the same college. She withered me with a gaze worthy of the basilisk. I picked myself up off the grass and moved on.
Alec Baldwin was friendly as a big cuddle-bear -- I don't care what his custody thing is. He was trying to hit on someone not his daughter. I spotted Bai Ling, who is famous for something, but what? Jay McInerney, all in white, with pants like tights, was totally cool, with a beautiful Irish voice. He loved the title "Conscience Point," he said ... I saw him think, oooh, yes. I overheard him say he was having dinner later with the Giuliani's. But I forgave him, politics isn't his thing.