A Novel Excerptby Edmund White
When I was seventeen I started planning my debut. Bobbie Jean hadn’t met a lot of “the good people,” as she called them, and I think she was planning to social climb through me. She hired Honey Mellen, a “party planner,” as she called herself, although we called her our “society coach.” The fiction was that Bobbie Jean and I were too busy to look after the million and one details involved in coming out, though the truth was we didn’t have Honey’s little green alligator-skin book of names and numbers, we didn’t know who to invite or the right florist or photographers or musicians or caterers. But Honey knew, she knew all about that, she also did weddings. It’s funny, weddings and debuts are all about getting a girl hitched to a man or at least in the right marriage sweepstakes, but both events involve women alone. Whoever heard of asking a man his opinion? At least in Texas, if not in France, women decided the kind of lace, the length of the train, the tiny buds in the tightly bound bouquet, the church, the preacher, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the reception and its hors d’oeuvres, hiring Lester Lanin’s real orchestra and some rinky-dink local band to fill in during the breaks, even if they knew how to play only “Tenderly” and Johnny Mathis’s “It’s Not for Me to Say.” We all liked Mathis. He was Texan. Sort of.