Parties have gentrified, you see. Sort of like Times Square!
The New York apartments and lofts which were once the scenes of old-fashioned drunken carnage - slurred speech, broken crockery, broken legs and arms, broken marriages and broken dreams - are now the scene of parties where both friendships and glassware survive intact. Everyone comes on time, behaves well, drinks a little wine, eats a few tiny canapés, and leaves on time. They all still drink, but no one gets drunk anymore. Neither do they smoke. What on earth has happened?
Everyone — even the would-be alcoholic — bends to social norms set by the boring, polite careerists who now rule the city with an iron fist. That's Cheever's thesis, anyway. Maybe social pressures outweigh genetics, contrary to the scientific consensus. "In an environment where it is not attractive to get drunk, no one gets drunk," Cheever writes.
She has a point, if only because New York — Manhattan, specifically — has gotten older as it has become more expensive. It's quite possible Brooklyn has gone in the opposite direction, what with all the drunken, rioting kids in hipster enclaves like Williamsburg. (Let's just ignore Park Slope for the moment.)
Cheever lives in Manhattan. She writes that she hasn't seen someone drunk "at a New York party" in ten years. You could probably find people at, say, Arianna Huffington's book party who would say the same. It doesn't mean anything has changed at NYU. Cheever's getting older! We all are!
And don't forget that the New York economy, save for a few of major disruptions, has been booming for more than a decade. Now that there's a full-on panic under way, and people have plenty of free time on their hands, the slurring, depressing party fights Cheever recalls should mount at least a minor comeback.
Or at least that's what your typical scandal-craving gossip merchant hopes for.