Lizzie: We’ve gone from party newsletter to hiatus to Summer House newsletter, and back to hiatus once recapping the first season of Summer House took everything we had left. If you opened this email hoping for a Season 2 pickup, I’m sorry to disappoint, but this isn’t that. It is, however, a return to our original form of recapping parties, or party-like happenings.
The truth is that the years keep crashing down like waves against the shoreline no matter what our newsletter is doing, and as proof, Ashley turned 30 last week (if you need a refresher on Ashley, Famous People #59 has you covered). To mark the occasion, Ash gave a gift to everyone else: The First Party Back.
Kaitlyn: It’s so hard to remember what the premise of this newsletter used to be: Kaitlyn and Lizzie at parties they were invited to? Kaitlyn and Lizzie at parties they weren’t explicitly invited to? Kaitlyn and Lizzie at public events held in basements, bars, or just once or twice, a fancy hotel? Another decade! Another New York! Another climate for email newsletters!—we weren’t the only ones not getting rich then, it was everyone. But New York is back, we’ll never sell out, no one would ask us to, and I really related to that evermore bonus track that was like “I’m right where you left me,” because I am! Anyway, just as the ground-breaking mRNA vaccines were wrapping up their work in all of our bodies, Ashley had the idea for a 30th birthday party to which she would invite about 10 people and to which we would all wear the sexiest outfits we had coveted and then hoarded during the long months of lockdown. Well, it ended up raining and being cold so forget that part.
But for weeks leading up to the big day I practiced constructing a gelatin mold made with Prosecco and raspberries and grapefruit liqueur. And for weeks leading up to the big day Lizzie wondered, should we make Ashley one of those cakes she loves? Kind of like this cake? And we both got haircuts to look our best.
Lizzie: A certain style of colorful icing-heavy cake usually photographed in unflatteringly bright light has become popular on one of the photo-based social media channels, and Ash had previously communicated her enjoyment of them, as anyone who likes their desserts delicious and vibe-forward would. Since I wasn’t ready to take on the challenge of recreating the look on my own, I baked three layers of a chocolate cake and made 8 cups of cream cheese frosting, then shuttled it all over to Kaitlyn’s apartment so we could get down to the serious business of decorating.
Here’s what was in my bag: four kinds of sprinkles (classic rainbow, pink ball, metallic ball, white glitter), maraschino cherries, Swedish Fish, food dye, two of those little tubes of colored goo for writing messages, and raspberries. We used most of this plus some of Kait’s shaved coconut and her much better pastel-colored food dye to create something truly stunning and honestly edible.
Kaitlyn: Yes, we did a “crumb layer” like Martha says to do, and no, we didn’t have any piping bags but we made it work. The Swedish Fish completed the whole look and I would pay Lizzie to creative direct my entire life! As I said, it was raining and freezing, so we had to tone down our outfits a little bit from the original vision board versions. Lizzie wore a stunning two-piece mesh top and a shiny black raincoat. I wore a strange golden blouse I purchased from And Other Stories in 2019 to wear to an office Christmas party that I ultimately skipped. We both wore black jeans, and so did Nathan, who paired his with a t-shirt advertising Doris, a San Antonio-themed bar in Bed-Stuy which we went to on our first date, not to be gross. Lizzie and Matt’s first date was also at Doris, so you might argue that she has been creative directing my entire life!
In the car, Lizzie carried the cake in a big cardboard box, and I carried the Jell-O on an L.L. Bean plate from the 99-cent store, and Nathan held tightly to the many cans of Loverboy, a sparkling hard tea created by our beloved boy Kyle of Summer House, and arguably the most valuable items in the whole vehicle if you recall that there has been an aluminum shortage and it has been so hard for Kyle to meet the demands of his distributors. Nathan also carried my gift for Ashley—an acrylic flower that she accidentally broke a little bit immediately upon opening it but we could all see it would be easy to fix. Her hair was newly auburn, and it seemed like she probably wasn’t even wearing highlighter, her cheekbones are just the kind that the sun wants to kiss over and over and over. You would simply have to see her to believe her, so that’s definitely part of why the problem seemed easy to solve.
Lizzie: In an attempt to acknowledge the party’s theme, my gift to the birthday girl was the 1992 Madonna photobook SEX. I was talking to my tailor about it the week before and he didn’t seem to know what I was referring to, even though I’m sure it was a talking point on VH1’s I Love the 90s, and he’s a cool fashion guy with good taste in pants. There are, to be fair, very few actual pants in SEX and maybe that’s why he’s never heard of it. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it might be a weird gift for your friend’s 30th birthday, but ultimately it is a historic document and it’s not like I was giving it to Ramona who will leave the room if anyone says “vagina.”
Kaitlyn: By “Ramona” she means Ramona Singer—I started watching Real Housewives of New York City over the pandemic year because Lizzie suggested I might like it. I guess you could say I watched 100 hours of it because she said that. We flipped through the SEX book in Ashley’s bedroom so that the other party guests wouldn’t be disturbed—it was really very stylish and tasteful. There was a great pic of Madonna in a white pair of men’s boxer briefs and I thought someone ought to have worn that to the party, weather permitting.
Ashley served everyone skewers with brussel sprouts and bacon on them, fresh from the oven. We drank Loverboy after Loverboy after Loverboy; on the inside I was like, as Carl says in the season two premiere of Summer House when he is belligerently drunk and ruining Stephen’s dinner party: More life!!!! But I didn’t say that out loud. However, when Ashley’s boyfriend Bran was seen drinking a…… White..Claw…….. I did interrogate him about it!
Lizzie: Colin attempted to get us dancing but success was mild. We started off with Sky Ferreira which took us into Ice Age (‘cause of the romantic connection) and then somehow we got to “Friday,” which transitioned into the Kidz Bop version of “Driver’s License,” which eventually led to the Kidz Bop version of “Float On.” We had a hard time recovering from it.
Kaitlyn: Colin also played “Fireproof” from One Direction’s fourth album Four, and then, presumably to be diplomatic, half of Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” off of a Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation from 2010.
He kept looking at those—and at the Kidz Bops—for inspiration, but I think he should have stressed a little less. [X] We would all have been totally fine with it if he had played a dance remix of the Little Women soundtrack, as we were absolutely there to jump around and feel deep gratitude for the blessings of life on Earth no matter what. We had an amazing time! Ashley was glowing because of what I already described about her and because Abby bought her a TikTok-famous lamp that creates sunsets indoors. Abby was glowing because she accidentally drank two of the limited edition Loverboy espresso martinis which are 12 percent alcohol and two servings per can. More life! I don’t know what Nathan was drinking but he did an entire shadow puppet show that lasted something like 45 minutes?
Lizzie: As a college professor would say at the start of a new semester, it was good to see some new faces and some old faces that I hadn’t seen in awhile. Beats seeing my own face, or more specifically my eyeballs, which I’ve recently gotten more closely acquainted with as I’ve joined the ranks of people who wear contacts (brag!)
Also like a college professor at the start of a new semester, I learned a few things, despite considering myself a teacher figure (jk): like what a Chicago hotdog tastes like, that there was once a rumor that Tao Lin was the Hipster Runoff guy (but according to a 2009 Vulture article, he’s probably not), and that there’s a pretty good bagel place 2 blocks away from where I live that I’ve never even seen before. I know I laughed a bunch but I couldn’t tell you at what.
Kaitlyn: When the night was over, Ashley divvied up her many cakes—there were three, including a Wegmans sheet cake—and sent a random piece home with each of her guests. Chic!
In the morning, at the diner, Nathan and I felt sorry for ourselves because we were tired and didn’t have any sunglasses, and then up rolled a man with an enormous German Shepherd and boxy Bethenny Frankel shades, and he said “short stack to go!” to the owner, and an explanatory “I eat my eggs at home first,” to a random by-stander, and I felt once again that New York was never really over. Of course, I never doubted it as anywhere near as much as other people, first and foremost because Ashley stayed the whole time, right where I could see her.
PARTY REVIEW METRICS
Did anyone bring a dog?
Lizzie: It was a tight-knit group and no dogs were invited.
Kaitlyn: She’s right, but the one we saw the next morning at the diner looked like Major Biden—the president’s hilarious dog—and I said “Major Biden!” Then we noticed that the man in the housewife shades was also wearing a hat that said “Joe Biden Sucks” on the front and “Save America 2024” on the back.
Did we hear any good secrets?
Lizzie: Everyone is trying to quit their jobs, but what else is new?
Kaitlyn: I don’t think anyone was that riveted but I told everyone exactly what Nathan’s 21-year-old roommate said about me in a text message. He used this emoji: 🙊 !!!!!!
Did anyone get engaged?
Lizzie: The only engagement I heard anyone talk about was audience engagement on in-article ads :(
Kaitlyn: Actually, someone I know from college got engaged in front of the Washington monument while this party was going on, but I didn’t learn it from Instagram until well into the following day. My algorithm knows how much I hate D.C.
Did anyone get famous?
Lizzie: We’re working on it!
Kaitlyn: We tag Loverboy in every Instagram post.
Is this song about New York City, baby???? ?