Monday, January 12, 2009

The Jungle Red Writers Inauguration Ball

ROBERTA: I read an article in the New York Times a week or so ago about how eagerly the Obamas are being sought as dinner and event guests in Washington. And we've all been reading about the expected crush of people attending the inauguration festivities. The Obamas are expected to be quite cagey about what they attend, as their presence will be interpreted in all kinds of ways they may not intend. says this:

The "official" balls are organized and hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies in honor of the newly-elected President. In the past, these have included the Commander-in-Chief Ball, the Constitution Ball, the Freedom Ball, the Democracy Ball, the Independence Ball, the Liberty Ball, the Patriot Ball, and the Stars and Stripes Ball.

"Unofficial" balls and galas are hosted by any number of different organizations, including state societies, private industry, non-profit organizations and other special interest groups. Many of these events are invitation or member only, with tickets for these balls not necessarily open to the public.

The competition would be stiff, but I got to thinking we ought to throw a Jungle Red inaugural ball. What should we eat? What about our dress code? And how the heck do we draw the Obamas in? Maybe the "JRW salutes the writer in you inaugural ball"? For one thing, I'd like to plan it on the early side. I'm just no good at staying up late these days.

HANK: New shoes? Can we get new shoes? (Not the $700 ones, since Jan objects.)
And hey, my husband and I got an invitation, all parchment and embossed gold letters, to the Obama inauguration. Cool. But I fear it's somewhat like being invited to the, say, lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller center. Um, or to the grocery. I mean it's open to the public, right?

Two things: I admit to be intrigued by what Michelle Obama will wear. Call me shallow. Someone said on some TV show that inaugurations bring out the dowdiness in first ladies. I suppose it's because the dress will be in the Smithsonian exhibit. Which would be a bit daunting.

Also, I do have some standing here to discuss White House events, because as a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, I covered Susan Ford's prom.

Anyway, I vote the decorations for the JR ball have to come from yard sales. And we have to dress as our favorite author. Wait, that's Halloween. We get the Obamas to come because we tell them: we're mystery authors and readers, and we know how to find the bad guys. And there are a lot of bad guys to get. Then we all have champagne.
ROBERTA: Hank, love the yard sale decorations! Maybe you could loan Michelle your black wedding dress? that was definitely worthy of the Smithsonian! Are you going to the ball? You can be our reporter on the scene...

RHYS: I am so envious that Hank got the official invitation! Just because I was getting the weekly updates from Obama's transition team AND he was following me on Twitter, I thought I was well and truly IN. Obviously not.
Why don't we have one of those murder mystery balls, with victim sprawling on floor, and everyone else trying to solve whodunnit? And you know what? We could invite sundry politicians and the CEOs of Wall Street and we could bump them off and nobody would ever find us out. Whaaa haaa haa. Rhys has changed from that writer who always gets reviews describing her work as "delightful" to an evil, scheming villainess. AND I'd wear red. I never wear red.

JAN: I just want to make clear Hank, I'm only outlawing $700 shoes for teenagers and those of us with large feet. Anyone who can actually afford $700 shoes or has to appear on television for whatever reason can spend as much money as they want on shoes.
And a superspecial exemption for inaugural balls and, oh heck, Emmy award ceremonies. But even though the rest of the media will skewer Michelle if she dresses down or makes the slightest fashion faux pas, I would be proud of her if she resisted the temptation to wear Monolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.

ROBERTA: Okay, so new shoes, red dresses, champagne, a murder mystery (though I'm a little concerned about all those secret service), and I definitely want dancing and great food. Suggestions and requests anyone? (And thanks for the Obama photo to Englino, for the crime tape photo to Daniel Y. Go, and for the dance photo to Patrick Q.)


  1. HALLIE: Whatever happened to the "good Republican wool coat" of the Pat Nixon years? Jackie Kennedy didn't look dowdy...neither will Michelle. But I confess I'm dying to see what she picks.

    We can have our inauguration ball at my house...which is ALREADY decorated with yard sale finds. And I vote for strictly comfort foods. Chicken soup. Chocolate pudding. A nice hearty beef stew. And lets invent a cocktail and call it Elixir of Change, made with all American-made ingredients, and toast the possibilities.

  2. As long as she has burned the infamous black and red dress she wore in Chicago, Michelle can wear anything she wants and I'm sure she'll look great.

    It's much easier being a guy. You just wear what all the other guys are wearing.

  3. Hey Ray! Great to see you here. Yes, I agree, that dress was not the best. I wonder if it might have looked terrific in real life but just didn't photograph well.

    But isn't that a great Obama photo Roberta found?

  4. Hank, I know, don't they look like a happy couple? I hope they can keep that going. Hallie, your house will be perfect! And we knew we could count on you for the menu...

    And I forgot to tell everyone to be sure and come back on Wednesday for a very creepy story by our pal Laura Benedict. Not to be missed!

  5. I think you guys need to pack up a box of your books for the new first family and include your invitation inside! They're going to need a bit of escapism in the next few weeks. :)

  6. oohhh Becky, great idea! Do you think if we just address it to the White House, we'll be in?

  7. I've been to an inaugural ball and they're not that much fun. But it sounds like yours would be. I do like the yard sale theme -- very sustainable, very green, which our local congressperson told us yesterday is very "in" down in DC these days. Maybe I can get Barack to come. After all he once put me in a near headlock (I guess the Secret Service move fast enough) and called my house so I could interview him for a story. And I've had my picture taken with him so I'm sure he remembers me...

  8. Whoops... Secret Service DIDN'T move fast enough... More coffee, please....

  9. I have to say I feel rather sorry for the Obamas. Don't they have to attend like twelve balls or something? Will Michelle wear twelve dresses? I wonder what their little girls are doing. Will they let them go to any of the parties? If they were my kids, I would throw them their very own party and let them mess up the White House while we were gone!

    I'll bring you all some Tiki Torches--they're just so festive!

  10. I agree that the Jungle Red ball will be more fun. With better food.

    I don't remember much dancing at the inaugural balls I attended as a TV crew hanger-on. Plus, if you don't have a ticket, you get no food. I had hoped for at least some canapes. Nuh uh.

  11. The Jungle Red Inauguration Ball sounds brilliant! And the decorations a lot of fun - first to find and then to put up. :-D

    We're off to a friend's house for an in Inauguration party on THE DAY. It can't come sooner for us. Hope everyone has fun and the winds of change are clean and swift.