Lunch At Bergdorf Goodman
I love New York City. I love the way it smells like bagels and urine. I love that it causes sweat to run in rivulets under my butt and breasts in the sticky August heat. I love the whistling workmen (thank you!). I love riding the subway and wondering about the secret lives of all the disparate faces, certain I know which ones are the murderers. I love walking into the fancy stores on Fifth Avenue and knowing I won’t buy a thing because the socks alone cost 50$. I love feeling anonymous in the sea of roiling humanity. I love feeling like I’m someone else, a Ukraine spy, a mute ventriloquist, a piano lounge lizard, an uptown call girl, a squirrel wrangler, a woman running from her past. And I love how pissed off and adrenalized everyone is. “Fuck youse!” “No, fuck youse!” It makes me want to punch sides of beef in a meat locker like Rocky.
In New York City I am more me than I am in Southern California even though I was born and raised there. In the Big Apple I talk and walk fast, I never meet a stranger’s eyes, I’m funnier, louder, sassier. Oh those vagabond shoes.
On my last visit I decided to have lunch at Bergdorf Goodman overlooking Central Park. I figured I couldn’t buy anything there, but I could splurge on a 15$ glass of pinot grigio and a 20$ chicken and walnut salad. The bread is free. I sat there and smelled the wealth. I inhaled the privilege. I peered at everyone’s shoes. The shoes weren’t ostentatious, but you could tell they were really well made, would last forever and could’ve financed college for your kids. The Bergdorf Goodman ladies-who-lunch are from Old Money. They don’t have to be flashy, they simply are classy. And skinny. And look like they’ve just gotten back from a lovely summer of playing canasta in the Hamptons, or Martha’s Vineyard or ‘Sconset in Nantucket.
I didn’t envy them, but enjoyed the buoyancy of company that didn’t reek of Poverty Consciousness. In the Bergdorf Goodman restaurant I let my Poverty Consciousness go and didn’t worry about the check. For a moment I was one of them. Someone who never has to think for one moment about money and what things cost.
I sipped my wine and took in the magnificent view. Then it occurred to me I’d had the same exact view in 2006, when I was in New York City for my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary. I’d been two floors up at the John Barrett Hair salon where my mother-in-law made appointments for all of the ladies to get manicures and blow outs. My father-in-law, a native New Yorker, just passed away this January. I raised my wine glass in a toast to the beautiful, still fresh memory of the celebration of a long, loving marriage and felt my heart contract at the blessedness of my life and the people in it. I felt grateful for the rarified air I breathe.
I love New York. The city of memory, magic and possibility.
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