Fashion being so harsh, and Gossip Girl being so in charge, it should come as no surprise that even seasons go out of season: "Spring on the Upper East Side, where the winter chill is supposed to be so last season." But it's Groundhog Day for our little Upper East Siders, and they're still bundled up in mittens and scarves.
It's one of those regrettably sad and unfair circumstances one often encounters in life: that the cold can't just be shoved along to Brooklyn, where the people are hardier and more suited to disappointment. It snows on all the boroughs, or none; quiet acceptance of this fact is just another form of the noblesse oblige required of us all in these inexact times. Vanessa Abrams, exhibiting that curious educational insecurity that only the homeschooled can truly understand, offers her best friend a list of some other gloomy places where it snows sometimes. "Budapest, Bucharest, Dubrovnik..." her companion, Dan Humphrey, often draws from her the appreciative laughter of the idiot with the determined application of bon mots just such as these: "Oh, there's nothing like summer in the Eastern Bloc. Just a Eurail pass and a backpack full of failed socialist policies..."
Vanessa laughs, pointing out that her trip will also encompass -- not to say be entirely financed by -- the heavenly Nate Archibald. "Vienna State Opera one day, pierogies in Poland the next." (The dutiful reader will note that, to Vanessa and those like her, these experiences are equivalent.) "No map, no reservations, just total freedom." It is part and parcel of Vanessa's ways, this: to see homelessness and squalor in a foreign nation as some sort of glamorous escape from her life of absolute, pointless leisure. It is a truth universally acknowledged by those above such petty attachments that we devalue what we cannot have.
"And Nate is super excited, too!" The dutiful reader will note that, to Nathaniel, inhalation and exhalation are every bit as "super exciting" as traveling to the Eastern Bloc with a Williamsburg blockhead, but Daniel -- never one to let a greedy opportunity for comparison of any kind slip by, most especially when the subject is the affections of one Mr. Nathaniel Archibald -- awkwardly segues to Nate's probable increased excitement with regard to the college basketball game they'll be watching together shortly. Now now, girls.
Nathaniel stands on the sidewalk, lending an ear to a tall man's vociferous exclamations as they approach, leaving behind all thought of their jealousies: who is this stranger speaking to their Nate? Why, it is his cousin Trip (as in III, to wit: hasn't even a proper Christian name to call his own), attempting desperately to entice Nathaniel back to the ancestral manse (known more properly in these parts as Aunt Helen Rosemond's house from Cruel Intentions) for their family reunion. Nathaniel introduces Trip to his friends, and they inform the terrible twosome of their dilemma: While Trip is assured that their grandfather, William van der Bilt (as in Vanderbilt, to wit: couldn't get Anderson Cooper to guest star), would be overjoyed to see Nathaniel at the reunion, the younger cousin retains certain reservations relating to his previous destitution, in which the van der Bilts took little to no interest until the boy's near-kidnapping at the hands of his father, the Captain. He shines his cousin on with the natural God-given gift of his vagueness and near-oblivious hangdog expression, and Trip reluctantly leaves them to their pursuits. While Nathaniel attempts to continue their day's entertainment smoothly and gracious -- as a good host should, and as such, is his wont -- Vanessa and Nate worry and pry endlessly. As is theirs.