My excellent friend David Wolkowsky, the King of Key West, invited me for Easter Sunday lunch on Ballast Key, his private island five miles south and in the direction of Cuba.
The plan was to meet at the Garrison Bight marina at 11am. Due to my neurotic ways I was the first to arrive. I strolled the length of the dock, past tethered boats, until I saw David’s boat. You can tell which is David’s boat by the lavender cashmere sweaters strewn across the helm.
Amongst the guests was one James Auchincloss ebullient in safari clothes and slung with a camera and a white headband which I have artfully concealed with a photoshopped Fez.
The entire ride to the island, interrupted by the sight of mating turtles, James never broke stride as he unspooled reams of tantalizingly gossipy morsels, all of which he declared ‘Off the record’.
At the island we walked the slim planks of the jetty, high above silver fishes and a baby bull shark lazing beneath in the shadows. Three little tractors awaited us in which to cross the island to the house by way of sandy paths decorated with thoughtfully placed statues and nurtured palm trees and bougainvillea. David’s house is three levels of glass and white wood and painted ceilings and wide open windows. To sit in the second story living room and breathe in the ocean air is tranquility itself.
A tranquility fluffed by James and his ready smile and his intriguing monologues. James has been everywhere, done everything and he has met everyone, and conveniently he has a crystalline memory. Luckily for James I’m a vault of secrecy but with the right amount of sodium pentathol heaven knows what I’d reveal, I now know EVERYTHING.
Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy’s father, Jack Bouvier, married a Janet Auchincloss. Janet was James’s mother, thus James is the half-brother of Jackie O.
Lunch was served in the marble ground floor dining room, with walls of glass pushed open so that one is surrounded by pink sand planted with sun baking conch shells and the turquoise sea.
James told one story he swore was already well documented (Vanity Fair 2013 ~ with slight variations), and therefore repeatable. Allegedly, one sunny morning in 1962 at the White House President John F. Kennedy’s ultra secret private telephone line rang, and because Jackie was in the room she answered the phone. It was Marilyn. Allegedly, super cool Jackie told the startled starlet, “You can have Jack if you want him so much. But think about it. You’d have to give up your life as a movie star. Give up all that glamor. Do you know how boring life is as a First Lady? You have to sit through endless State dinners. If you want him, you can have him. But think about it.”