I woke up last Saturday morning with drenched sheets. Not from pee! I never pee the bed! You'll just have to take my word about that.
It was sweat. I was sick: the flu. My mouth was dry and chapped and full of gross mucus. I was drained, lightheaded, sapped of energy. On top of that, I had pulled a muscle in my neck the day before. I could barely lift my head off the pillow. Party Arty, the annual benefit for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, started in a mere 10 hours.
"Must ... network ... with ... young Kansas City professionals!" I croaked, my fists balled up and shaking.
I was told that the cure-all for my symptoms was something called Tamiflu. I got ahold of my doctor, and he called in a prescription to CVS.
"That'll be $120," the pharmacist told me.
"I'm sorry," I said, coughing into my armpit. "I thought you said one hundred and twenty dollars."
"That's correct," he said.
A hundred and twenty dollars! It ended up being half that with my insurance, but still: Health care is out of control in this country! When will you people wake up to this crisis!
I moaned and grunted and slept for most of the day. Then, at 8 p.m., I put on a suit and tie and drove my busted-ass car to the Nelson. I had no choice; there was no backup plan for this column. I need to start becoming the type of person who has backup plans for things.
I rolled up to the parking garage underneath the museum and watched as a procession of luxury sedans and SUVs made their way in. I decided it might be best if I just parked on the street and walked from there. The new thing with my car is that it must always be moving. If it sits idle, stopped at a light or in line at the bank, the whole car just rattles. It's very loud, and after a few seconds, other motorists and passers-by start to look around for the source of the noise. At that point, I usually open my glove compartment and pretend to look for something. I do this for as long as it takes.
But there were no parking spots on the street nearby, so I circled back into the garage and distanced myself from the car as quickly as possible. Off to a strong start!
I hadn't previously attended a Party Arty. All I knew going in was that it was supposed to be fancy, and that the guests tend to be upwardly mobile individuals in their 20s and 30s. Both of those things, I can report, are true. This was a very classy, professionally executed event. A lot of beautiful people were in attendance. Where are all these beautiful people hiding the rest of the year? It was like I'd been teleported to a different city. There was a line near the entrance to get your photo taken, but I crept around it and made my way into the party. Nobody bothered to look my way, but if they had, the general visual would have been something like Anthony Hopkins getting wheeled around on that dolly in The Silence of the Lambs.
I made my way to more forgiving lighting and soaked in the party. I ended up staying for about three hours and having an above-average time. Here are some observations:
• Party Arty sold out in advance. Tickets cost $90 for general admission, $160 for VIP. I bumped into a guy I went to high school with who told me he'd paid $120 for his GA ticket on Craigslist. Somebody else told me that tickets were going for as high as $200 the day of the event. That is probably too much money to pay to go to Party Arty. Then again, I get the sense that, for a certain type of person in Kansas City, not attending Party Arty is, as they say in high school movies, like committing social suicide.
• The GA section of the party contained a couple of open bars — with Tito's Vodka, Dewar's, Boulevard beers — a DJ, and a handful of naked women in body paint perched atop white, art-displaying pedestals. These women weren't dancing. They were mostly posing. Then sometimes they would change their poses in elegant ways. One looked like Poison Ivy. One was a swan or something. I think it was supposed to fit into the "Eternal Spring" theme of the party. But they were really quite naked! They were so naked that I was at first too bashful to even glance at their crotches. Ultimately, I did end up catching glimpses of their crotches, which looked to be obscured by tiny pieces of cloth.
• It is hard not to feel like a total peeping-Tom perv when you are taking pictures (with the flash on) of naked women at a party. But it seemed important to supply our readers with the full experience.
• I was able to worm my way into the VIP section, which was up some steps and through an ethereal, aviarylike walkway. The VIP section was made up of two rooms. One had a circular bar and a dance-floor area. The other was Rozzelle Court, which is the restaurant inside the Nelson with indoor trees and a fountain. In Rozzelle Court, there were vendor tables from the Jacobson, Local Pig, Snow & Co., and a few others. In GA, chips and salsa were set out, and I'm pretty sure the salsa was Pace Thick 'n Chunky. In VIP, you could get little guacamole samplers from Port Fonda, and maybe a Tank 7. But other than that (and, apparently, free valet service), VIP offered no substantial benefits. I'd say more fun was being had in GA. There were definitely more people dancing.
• There were way too many men excited to be wearing fedoras.
• Outstanding cupcakes. Had about three. Five, maybe.
I was unable to network at Party Arty. I'm not sure what networking is. It's like talking to people, but being really calculating and selective about it, right? Plus, I had the flu. Maybe next year.