are none of our goddamn business at every opportunity, Social Security is bankrupt or damn near it, the nation is crippled by debt. Our politicians are crooked for the most part, our educational system is falling apart, and you're supposed to feel guilty about your kids playing Cinderella for one night at some fancy Waspy ball? Give me a break. I've got news for you, there are no whites at my mother's bingo club in Harlem either, and she doesn't feel guilty for a goddamn minute. Harry knows better— why don't you tell him to go picket someone? This isn't a Nazi youth movement, it's a bunch of silly girls in pretty white dresses. Hell, if I were in your shoes, and I had a kid, I'd want her to do it, too. And I wouldn't feel guilty about it, either. Tell everyone to relax. It doesn't bother me, and I boycotted just about everything on the planet all through college and law school. This one wouldn't even have raised my eyebrows.”
“That's what my mother-in-law said. Harry said it was a disrespect to every member of his family who died in the Holocaust. He made me feel like Eva Braun.”
“Your mother-in-law sounds a lot more sensible. What else did she say?” Margaret asked with interest. She was a spectacular-looking woman, a few years younger than Olympia, and she had modeled in college. She had been in Harper's Bazaar and Vogue in order to supplement her scholarship at Harvard.
“She wanted to know what I thought of black velvet, and how soon we could shop for her dress.”
“Precisely. My sentiments exactly. Fuck all of them, Ollie. Tell your revolutionary kid to shape up, and your husband to give it up. This isn't on the ACLU's radar screen, it doesn't need to be on his either. And your ex-husband sounds like a real jerk.”
“He is. If he gets a chance, he'll stir the pot. He'd rather have a kid on life support than one not making her debut. I just want them to have fun, and do the same thing I did. In my day, it wasn't a big deal, it was just something you did. I did it in the seventies, in the sixties everyone refused to, in the forties and fifties you had to, to find a husband. It isn't about that anymore, it's about wearing a dress and going to a party. That's all it is. A one-night stand for tradition and the family album. Not a travesty of social values.”
“Believe me, I never lost a night's sleep over it when I was a kid, and I knew girls at Harvard who did it in New York and Boston. In fact, one of them invited me to go, but I was modeling in Chicago that weekend to pay for school.”
“I hope you come,” Olympia said generously, and Margaret grinned.
“I'd love to.” It never even remotely occurred to Olympia that Margaret being there would cause a stir, nor did she care. So far, she had invited a Jewish woman as her guest, and an African American, and she was Jewish now herself. And if the committee didn't like it for some reason, though she doubted it, she didn't give a damn.
“I just hope Harry comes, too,” she said, looking sad. She hated fighting with him.
“If he doesn't, it's his loss, and he'll look stupid. Give him time to come down off his high horse. It should tell him something that his mother approves and thinks the girls should do it.”
“Yeah,” Olympia said with a sigh. “Now all I have to do is convince the girls. Or Veronica at least. If not, she and Harry can picket the event. Maybe they can carry signs objecting to the women wearing fur.”
They both laughed, and half an hour later Olympia went home. The atmosphere at home was strained that night. None of them said a word at dinner, but at least this time everyone sat down and ate. By the time they went to bed that night, Harry had unbent a little. She didn't discuss the deb ball with him, nor with Veronica. She didn't touch the subject with either of them, until Veronica went berserk three days later when she got a letter from her father.
He had written her the threat not to pay her or Ginny's college