Saturday night I wore my Louboutin Simple 70s to the bar at the Mark Hotel. 77th and Park. To a certain extent, that sentence says all that needs to be said. But it’s pretty dense, as a communication, so let me deconstruct.
I lived in Manhattan from 1979 through 1984. I was young, in my mid-20’s. Besieged with all the doubts of that age, and then some, I could buy the right clothes, I could look pretty good. I never felt cool. Once a Japanese newspaper took my picture for an article on the best-dressed women in business school. I’m serious. But I was quite simply too thin-skinned, and too caught between my High WASP pedigree and my left-coast training to be able to settle into a coterie. And without a coterie, where’s cool?
If there was a route to coolness, I don’t think I ever found it. If I did, the person in charge neglected to tell me I’d arrived.
But at 53, even the thin-skinned can speak to themselves in sensible voices. We can say to ourselves, “Cool is as cool does.”
So on Saturday night, during the long weekend in Manhattan, I put on my new shoes. I put on my Narcisco Rodriguez little black dress. I put on a pair of antique Swedish earrings. I clipped my hair back in a tortoiseshell barrette, leaving too-long bangs feathering out in front. Pretty damn cool. I wore nude lipstick. Even cooler. Carried a black trench, and, as it turned out, my aubergine handbag, glittering like a bowling ball. Too early in the evening for black beaded clutches. It’s the bag that defines hour-appropriateness of one’s getup.
We took a cab.
The bar was lit up with stars. Literally.
The women were Upper East Side to their nails. Tory Burch lookalikes, only less earnest. I saw the UES incarnation of the New York street look, in all its blonde glory. Wheat tweed jacket, with a classic Gap denim silhouette. Beige tee. Scarf. Long necklace of big white round beads. Light menswear shoes, brogues or some such. Mark my words. Brogues are big. So is hair. Can you say, “Volume at the roots?” And yet, not plastic, not shiny, somehow friendlier than years past.
And me in my black dress and shoes feeling like an effing movie star. Which I’m not, obviously. But it didn’t matter. I was well-nigh giggling out loud. Drinking Prosecco. More stars. I was my own Glinda, virtual tulle skirt in a haze about me.
We decided to eat at the Jean-Georges restaurant. Of course they had a table. They sat us by the bar. Don’t you just love that guy’s bald head? And the assumption of power in his forward lean?
I could have cared less which table I got – I’m not Mayor Bloomberg and thank goodness for that. I walked my own private red carpet to sit down. Like a little girl invited downstairs to the grownups dinner party, wide-eyed, bare-footed, in a nightgown, every one intoxicated around her. Except of course I had clothes on. Everyone else might have been intoxicated. I paid no nevermind.
I ordered Sweet Pea Soup with Parmesan Foam. The waitperson brought out a soup bowl in which rested three little hills of yellow. That was the parmesan part. Then she poured hot bright green soup and it ran in rivulets around the foam. Delicious. Drank a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon. Also delicious.
Ate some bread. A shrimp salad. A veal chop. Then we walked out and down Park Avenue. The night was still warm. A doorman said, “Good evening!” My feet didn’t even hurt.
Through the dark trees, I saw lights from Central Park, dark sky above. When you get older, cool is easier to come by. So is sentiment. We took a cab back downtown. Didn’t want to push my foot luck any further.
*DocP pointed out to me that the New York Times reviewed this exact meal just last week. Copycats:).