Two years later, on New Year’s day in 1936, Edie had her debutante ball at the Pierre. It cost her father, Phelan, $10,000. He spent the night, unsurprisingly, not talking to his wife. Edie, meanwhile, barely seemed to notice that the party was occurring. She was out drinking at a bar around the corner. She said:
“So, came the debut and guess where I was. Came the time I was supposed to be in the Pierre Ballroom on the seating line for the goddamn debut – guess where I was? Sitting in the Stork Club with Francis Hodge! Fran Hodge turns to me and said, ‘Hey, Edith, I think it’s time you got dressed for the party, don’t you?’ “
There was an adaptation of Edie’s story on HBO, in which Drew Barrymore plays her, that shows her running away from the ball in a panic (perhaps this is in part where the notion that she was trapped in some sort of gilded cage she wanted to escape comes from) but it sounds more like she just wasn’t paying that much attention.
But her mother was. At the ball, Big Edie claimed:
“I looked younger than any of the debutantes. Listen, you know – everybody came up and shook hands and they thought I was the debutante. Don’t you love that?”
Well, it was actually supposed to be your daughter’s night, so, no, I don’t suppose everyone just loves that. This is, perhaps, the first incident that indicates that one ought to be wary of Edie’s mother. Little Edie maybe should not have sent her ladles full of warm embraces or whatever she was doing. It gets worse, though.