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The original Oxford English Dictionary goes straight from "socialistic" to "sociality." No "socialite." The Random House Unabridged Dictionary dates "socialite" to 1925-1930. (Where is Lighter when we need him?) It's a dreadful word, and I can't imagine that anyone relishes its application to herself.

(Most "socialites" are women, or, more specifically, wives or widows of rich men. Martha Stewart started out as a junior socialite, but nowadays she could go to every benefit in creation and still not qualify.)

"Real People Meet Real Design," is the unfortunate title of Penelope Green's story, in the Times, about rounding up four individuals from different walks of life for a tour of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits last weekend. The idea behind the story:four totally ordinary people, surrogates for you and me, cast their gimlet eyes on furniture with an attitude. But where do reporters find ordinary people? Mark Crispin Miller, NYU media scourge, was one of the quartet. I'm looking forward to meeting him at a book event at McNally Robinson in June, but I doubt that I will ask him about this faintly embarrassing exposure. Tony Shellman, an entrepreneur, and Leah Levy, a ninth-grader, were also part of the team. But what caught my eye was the billing that Frances Hayward got. "The Socialite." Ms Hayward is presumably the person most likely to buy, or to decide not to buy, the goods on offer at the Fair.

Would the fact that Ms Bayard is the tenant of Grey Gardens have anything to do with her Q? Perish the thought. 

In 1906, just over a century ago, Edith Wharton wrote, "The American landscape has no foreground, & the American mind no background." This is still,


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