I had dinner with one of its ‘Grande Dames’.
She did not speak much. But when she spoke, you saw snippets of a beautiful and glamorous life. Of skiing in the Cedars in the fifties, when in Europe no one had even heard of skiing yet, and water skiing at the St. George Yacht Club, when women in the western world were only just barely gaining their independence. Of nights out in Monaco, of operas in Paris, and ballets in Vienna. Of parties with presidents, princes, marquises and movie stars, of cabriolets and yachts. Of residences in Paris and Acapulco, of beauty queens and billionaires. Of painters and composers, fashion designers and owners of airline companies and multi-nationals, and photo-shoots for Vogue and l’Officiel. It sounded so simple and natural, not snobbish at all. Just a matter of fact.
She spoke about her work. She – in her eighties – still goes on business trips. She is in negotiation with jazz ensembles and sopranos and still meets with presidents. Those that shared that beautiful life with her are all long gone, or had their fortunes turned. Yet there is no regret that those days are bygones.
The scales have tipped since then. Old money has long gone, the ‘nouveau riche’ have taken over town, and they don’t have that subdued style. It’s all flashy, and on the outside. But last night, over a simple dinner with this beautiful lady, I saw bits and pieces of that Beirut.
I am not easily impressed. But last night, I was impressed