Menace to Society
I hate department stores. They remind me of being a chubby 12-year-old with braces being dragged around by her mother to try on bat-mitzvah dresses at the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s located in the heart of Delaware’s Christiana Mall. (We eventually decided on an electric blue sleeveless number, and suffice to say I have vowed to burn the photobook of evidence the first chance I get.)
So sartorially misinformed was I that for many years I associated most department stores with the cheap and gawdy—obviously, I reasoned, most cool clothes come from stores that sold only their own brand, places like Ann Taylor, or Hot Topic. Up until embarrassingly recently, I didn’t understand what my so-called friends were driving at when they offered to take me shopping at Macy’s, Nordstrom’s or Bloomie’s. I just flashed back to Delaware and that blue dress and assumed that they were making some sort of ironic commentary on prom season.
But a girl can’t live in blissful ignorance forever, and by the time I was, oh, say, 28, I found out that, far from being tacky, New York’s haute couture was synonymous with, yes, Madison Avenue designer flagships, but also: Bergdorf’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys. I had never stepped into these hallowed halls of fashion. I had to take a Valium just to step into a Century 21, with its maze-like layouts, dressing room item limits and panic-inducing number of choices.
But I couldn’t wear jeans and sweaters with cat faces on them forever, and no matter how well that kitschy-cute skunk hat I had purchased last summer in South Dakota went over at a recent Broadway after party, I realized that eventually I would have to make peace with the luxury department store.
NYOMENACE TO SOCIETY
(All photos courtesy of Jordyn Taylor.)
In my continuing effort to become a real member of New York’s society of ladies, I feel it is important occasionally to take inventory of my strengths and weaknesses. There is no shame in this; I am good at many things.
For example, I made latkes on my first try this past December. Also, I can usually guess the outcome of any police procedural show five minutes into the program. (Some people might say that is a weakness because I am not fun to watch TV with, but they are just jealous.) I am a fast reader, and an equally swift—though more mistake-prone—writer. I can be witty, and I can hold my liquor.
Menace to Society
I have a problem. Well, no, we have a problem. The children of Prozac Nation, medicalized since we entered grammar school: we are a generation of self-diagnosers. Con-artist hypochondriacs, we refuse to take responsibility for any personal shortcomings, attributing them all to in-vogue disorders instead.
It’s not rude to type on your iPhone while talking to someone if you tell them, “I’m just so ADD.”
Feel awkward at parties? Kind of a loner? Don’t sweat it, you just have Asperger’s. This has lately become a handy catchall term for anyone who is even a little bit weird or likes to spend time on the Internet. That’s the great thing about the autism “spectrum”—it’s a spectrum! If you look closely enough, we’re probably all on it somewhere.
Menace to Society
Not long ago, I attended a party thrown by gym magnate Bob Roberts and his wife, Lauren Day Roberts. Walking around their opulent Southampton villa, I found myself talking to a small cluster of people hanging out by the infinity pool—the outdoor one, not to be confused with its heated indoor companion—asking what they do for fun. Besides cluster near infinity pools, that is.
“Well, polo season is about to start,” former rock journalist and current PR maven Liz Derringer told me.
“I love polo,” I said. “I used to play it all the time.”
I received some incredulous stares, since I guess no one suspected a sleek urbanite such as myself actually spent her formative years in Newark, Delaware, where everyone who was anyone played water polo.
“Well, then you have to meet Nacho Figueras next weekend at the Bridgehampton Polo Club kickoff,” my dear friend (and publicist) R. Couri Hay suggested. “Maybe we can even set you up with a lesson. When was the last time you rode a horse?”
That’s when it dawned on me that they were talking about polo polo: the kind played by very attractive men who appear in Ralph Lauren campaigns. The kind that’s like croquet on horseback, where you gallop at full tilt while bending over to hit a very small plastic ball with a 10-20 pound mallet.
Menace to Society
I used to think Fashion Week was fun. This was years ago, when “the tents” referred to actual tents. Back in the day (it must have been, oh, 2008) my friends and I would try to talk our way into Tommy and Oscar shows and blog about the experience. It was surprising how often our feigned frustration—“What do you mean I’m not on the list? Please call Eric and let him know that we’re here”—would get us in.
I’m still not sure if there was an Eric, but somehow he always came through.
Now, older and wiser and having recently embarked on a journalistic mission to embed myself among the social elite, I have actual invites (22, to be exact), a fresh Anna bob and a mission, should I choose to accept it, to treat Fashion Week not like a joke, but like a job.
Which is a lot harder than it looks.
Menace to Society
I used to love performing on stage. Loved it. Since I obsessively listened to musicals, I was pretty sure that I had the perfect voice for showbiz. So it never made sense to me that I was always relegated to the far-far background in middle school productions of The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees after trying out for the leads.
It was especially baffling after my parents had spent money sending me to northeast Maryland’s finest summer programs.
It wasn’t much better when it came to non-musicals. (I think one time the teachers at my summer camp were forced to make up a role in Romeo and Juliet that required no talking just to keep me in the production. I was the Apothecary’s Assistant.)
But never mind that—I knew I was good at acting. I was the loudest, wasn’t I?
I’ve never had an eating disorder. I did, however, have an eating problem, the way that Ted Striker from Airplane said he had a drinking problem before splashing himself with a beverage. I didn’t consume food: I just shoved it toward my mouth, usually while in the middle of doing other activities (reading, working, taking a bath).
“My god, you have the weirdest walk ever,” a co-worker remarked the other day as a group of us headed outside for a cigarette break. He and another colleague tried to imitate it: sort of like a shuffling Frankenstein’s monster, but with the feet always crossing over themselves, on the verge of tripping.
“I have a joint disorder,” I mumbled. Since my speaking style is limited to two settings—yelling and slurring, or mumbling and trailing off at the end of my sentences—I had to repeat myself.