Oprah turned 50 this month, and friends gave 2 parties to honor her. Oprah, who gives valuable broadcast time and millions of dollars to help others...50,000 of the poorest South African children, scholarships to the deserving, grants to the charity-minded, homes to the homeless, and a listening ear, warm hug and podium to the unheard disenfranchised. Indeed, Oprah is a woman worthy of being honored.
The first party was luncheon with 50 woman friends at the posh Hotel Bel Air. The women dined at a custom-made "O" (for Oprah)-shaped table, festooned with apple-green linen tablecloths, and topped with dyed-to-match apple-green silk organza imported from India and hand-embroidered with 100,000 glass beads. The sumptuous luncheon was served on porcelain plates handcrafted for the occasion, and rimmed with liquid platinum. The finest wines were served in apple green European handblown crystal. Dessert was an individual cake with delicate floral sculptures for each woman, similar to the 400 lb cake the baker created for Oprah for her private celebration later. Maya Angelou composed a poem for the occasion, California First Lady Maria Shriver read a proclamation from the Governor, and chanteuse Celine Dion warbled a song just for Oprah. It was a delightful afternoon for one of the world's wealthiest women.
The second party was a black tie formal affair at a stunning Santa Barbara estate. The dining room ceiling was draped with 800 yards of fine Italian camel-hued chiffon, and centered with elegant chandeliers imported from Italy for the event. The home was filled with 200,000 orchids, hydrangeas, magnolia leaves and roses from Holland, Ecuador and Hawaii. Each of the hundreds of guests at the 4-course dinner had a personal waiter. The army of waiters practiced for weeks to enable them to perform each dinner task in perfectly synchronized unison. A dance floor was laid over a pool, by divers who spent a week underwater building the foundation right into the pool. The party concluded with Oprah blowing out candles on a 23-karat gold cake. It was a fantasy evening fitting for a queen.
As I watched the 60-minute program devoted to glorifying each tiny party detail, a thought occurred to me.....is a televised orgy of opulent excess, servants, gluttony and products made by slave-like labor the proper way to pay homage to Oprah's decades of good humanitarian works?
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