Last Friday evening found me at the Bacara, decked out for one of my favorite annual events, The First Ladies of the Dream Foundation Fundraiser-a lady’s dream affair, featuring amazing clothes, excellent food, and a side order of tear-jerking emotion. The light grew golden as the courtyard began to fill, and it became clearer and clearer that these ladies were dressed to impress. And who could blame us? Though in years past it’s been a daytime affair, this event has always been all about the clothes, featuring a fashion show by some of the biggest names in the biz; previous years have seen Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, and Diane von Furstenberg. But the Dream Foundation’s first foray into the evening hours starred nothing less than fashion royalty: Valentino. (Sigh, swoon, squeal.) Alas, my Valentino was at the dry cleaners. Regardless, the schmoozing hour was a blur of beautiful women, amazing clothes, and a handful of happily outnumbered men.
At dinnertime I bonded with my tablemates over the tears we knew were as inevitable as the incredible clothes. But before the weepiness, more fabulousness was to be had: performances from America’s Got Talent, well, stars Shenea Booth and Arthur Davis and American Idol‘s Michael Johns were an excellent prelude to the videos from various dream recipients, which is, of course, where the aforementioned tears came in. There’s something about listening to someone who’s facing a terminal diagnosis that not only puts everything sharply into perspective, but, well, frankly, can make one feel like a bit of a tool. Exhibit A was Jeni Hargis, a dream recipient in her early twenties who was there on Friday night, and who spoke after we’d all whipped out the Kleenex during her video. “Every day we wake up is another blessing,” she said. Speaking of her illness, she added, “One of the first things to take a backseat is your dreams.” And yet, her dreams were clearly riding shotgun. More to the point, she exuded optimism and positiveness. When her mom took the mike, well, you can imagine the waterworks.
Fortunately there was much to distract us: a fabulous meal, a live auction, and the fashion show, featuring exquisitely clad, stick-thin nymphettes, cruelly parading by just as we were finishing up the crme br»lee. The grand finale, a live performance by Kenny Loggins, which inspired a minor confession to my tablemates: You see, approximately 100 percent of the time, when I’ve had any amount of alcohol and there’s any access to a deejay and a dance floor, I demand “Footloose.” Though my tune of choice would have been decidedly out of place in between “Conviction of the Heart” and “Celebrate Me Home,” the guy seated next to me held out hope: “Play Footloose!” he yelled, as I took cover beneath the table.
As ever, the evening was decadent, yet somehow the furthest thing from superficial-rather, an affirmation of enjoying every beautiful, delicious, simple gift life has to offer. I left thinking about Hargis’s words. What excuse does any of us have to forget that each day is a blessing? Or to give up on our dreams? I can’t think of one. So mark my words, the next time I’ve got Kenny Loggins in the same room, I’m gonna ask for “Footloose.”