mobbed: here, ladies’ belts with goldnand silver buckles are snapped up likensouvenirs at an Oriental bazaar, at two,nthree, eight thousand dollars apiece.nDemand exceeds supply, no time fornquestions or answers. Elsewhere, anstranger wants to spray me with perfume.n”If you spray me, I’ll scream.”nShe doesn’t care.nAnother party, this one given bynDonald and Ivana Trump at the Towernof the same name. My host is accompaniednby several other guests whosenarrival makes the crowd of spectatorsngathered outside shout with joy, but Insee little difference between the callednand the chosen. Inside, this impressionnis strengthened: Hundreds of peoplenhave come to hang out at the shoppingnmall, as people do throughout thenland, except that here the girl dressednlike Madonna is, in fact. Madonna, ornso I’m told. Mrs. Trump gives menseveral seconds of her time. I open mynmouth to say something witty. Eightnphotographers, like mutant shepherds,ndrive a flock of celebrities towards hernand proceed to set up their shots. Thenhuman current carries me off. Thencrowd moves to the escalators becausenit is human to believe that the realnparty is elsewhere; but as the guestsndiscover that “there is nothing upnthere” (overheard), they hurry backndown. What an amazing view! Below,non the left, a nightmare of shoppers (asnin: a gaggle of geese, a pride of lions, ankindle of kittens, a charm of goldfinches,nan exaltation of larks —nremember?), milling convulsively tonthe music . . . On the right, againstnthe background of hanging furs, coatcheckngirls in white dance to the samenmusic. “Like a video!” (overheard).nWe leave after a few minutes.n”Have you read the book?” somebodynasks. What book? “This was a booknparty, for Donald’s book.” Anothernmisunderstanding, apparently. Thenwindows of the limousine are made ofndark glass. I wonder if they allownpeople to see in or out. To be seen isncertainly more important.nHeadlines in the Sodom Times, asnReagan (“My first name is Ron”) andnGorbachev (“Mine is Mikhail”) signntheir nuclear Munich pact: Mood ofnWarmth, A Tempered Optimism, ThenUltimate Luxury Sale: 30% Off AllnCashmere (no, that’s an ad), SovietnVisitor Mixes Charm With Vigorn(sorry: Venom), A Russian MarchesnInto the Pentagon (“in a civilian businessnsuit rather than the bemedalednuniform favored by senior Soviet officers”).nIn Moscow Heartfelt Joy fornTreaty, Trust but Verify (editorial).nTwo Leaders Meet — Two HeartsnAlso? (another editorial), Sekretar’nGorbachev! Teper’ vremya dat’ sovetskimnyevreyam prava cheloveka (“SecretarynGorbachev! It’s time you gavenSoviet Jews their human rights,” anfull-page ad in unidiomatic Russian),nGorbachev Extols Talks on Leaving,nReagan Trip Is Due, Gorbachev VisitnCalled Boon to Bush. “Books of thenTimes” in the person of MichikonKakutani reviews The Hard Facts ofnthe Grimms’ Fairy Tales by MarianTatar (Princeton University Press,n$19.95): “‘The Little Red RidingnHood,’ for instance, has been read asnparable of’pregnancy envy’ (the wolfnattempts to put living human beingsninto his belly and is later killed bynstones, which serve as symbols of hisnsterility).” Enough.n”The only way to safeguard scholarshipnand culture,” writes Davies, “is tonteach everybody the three R’s and tonfine heavily or even imprison anyonenwho attempts to achieve any degree ofnhigher knowledge. Then only the bornnscholars, the men and women tonwhom culture means more than comfort,nwill risk punishment, and culturenwill be saved from impostors. Culturenis an anti-social thing, a whim of thensolitary animals to be found here andnthere amid their gregarious fellows; it isnnot a thing to be given by the herd tonthe individual … for in the end culturenis the death of the herd.”nCocktails with a princess, I am told.nIndeed, a woman downstairs tells thendoorman in the lobby that she isn”going to the Princess’ apartment.” Itnwould sound better at Versailles. ThenPrincess’ apartment? The Princess’ncar? (“Hey Joey, get the Princess’ car,nwill you?”) The Princess’ shoppingn(from Walbaum’s)? Inside — there’snnever anything inside!—the only personnI recognize is Patricia Hearst,nbeing photographed. Hasn’t she beennphotographed enough? “All the majornplayers are here tonight,” someonenwhispers. What players? Hockey? Badminton?nAn old woman “wearing anLacroix” (“a series of swags andngarlands . . . miles of fringe andnnnribbon … all used with abandon,”nsays Sodom magazine) pushes andnnearly knocks over a younger, lessnexperienced guest in a successful attemptnto elbow her way into a photonopportunity: Town and Country is takingnpictures. In the background, Bulgarindisplay-cases gleam with jewels.nThe Princess’ jewels?nSomething called “Night of a HundrednTrees”: a charity auction ofnChristmas trees, with proceeds goingnto medical research. The auctioneernfrom Sotheby’s, once a symbol of stiffupper-lippednauthority and lockjawednself-confidence, is drowned out by hisncohost, Dr. Ruth. Oinking, screeching,nand yelping the praises of AIDS awareness,nthe doctor sells the festive crowdnon such lots as the Andy Warhol treen(“He isn’t going to be making anynmore trees!”); covered in black spangles,nthe Marilyn Monroe tree (“Shenisn’t going to make any either!”), includingnone of her shoes; the JoannRivers tree (“blond fir with dark roots,nha-ha-ha!”), adorned with telephonencords and “mini-bagels”; and Dr.nRuth’s own, the Dr. Ruth Hanukkahnbush, therapy session and all.nAt lunch the next day, in sunnynGomorrah, I mention a piece I wrotenon the summit. “Did you Fax it?”nsomebody wants to know. No, I justnwrote it, I answer bashfully. “But didnyou Fax it to me? Did you Fax it?”nAfter lunch we pick fragrant lemons,nunsullied oranges. Someone is tryingnto remember what’s inside (there’snnever anything inside!) several bluenboxes, intended as party favors. A secretarynis summoned, to call Tiffany’snand investigate what was meant fornwhom. “Why don’t you just opennthem?” But idleness makes a bureaucracynout of the human soul, and afternan hour of deliberation the boxes are,nto everyone’s disappointment, at lastndistributed. A car takes us to the airport,nfor the return journey to Sodom.nAt 3:00 P.M. the American Airlinesnflight is boarding. At 6:00 P.M. we arenstill on the ground, without any explanation.nA hundred businessmen, theirnseatbelts securely fastened, read thenSodom Times. I want to get off.n”Please remain seated.” But I want tonget off! “I’m afraid you’ll have tonreturn to your seat, sir.” At 7:00 P.M.nI write a letter to the captain sayingnthat if they don’t let me off the plane InMARCH 1388 / 43n