I posted this as a Facebook note in my pre-blogging days, but I think it works better in blog form.
One lovely spring day, in the not too distant past, I was in NYC for a yoga workshop. I had taken to eating lunch at Bloomingdales in Soho because it was nearby, they had reasonably tasty hummus, and I could sit and read the “Yoga Sutras” for a while with minimal distractions (Bloomingdales does not have free wifi). Plus, let’s face it, lunch was the only thing I could afford at Bloomingdales anyway, and I REALLY wanted to be able to afford something at Bloomingdales.
Now, I know yoga teachers are supposed to be non-attached to material possessions, and ESPECIALLY non-attached to super-expensive luxury possessions, and brand names and all of that. I mean, haven’t you heard of all of all the enlightened souls removing the logos and tags from their $100 Lulu pants on principle? Yeah. That’s not me. My first pair of Lulu pants warranted a tweet AND a status update.
That said, one lesson I’ve been learning consistently through my practice, is radical self-acceptance (note: yoga teachers, even us materialistic yoga teachers, really love to attach the word “radical” to everything), and I accept that I am not yet a fully enlightened being. I then also accept my occasional need to press my little yogic nose against the windows of Kate Spade and Tiffanys (metaphorically of course, I do realize someone has to wash those windows), as well as my desire to walk out of Bloomingdales with my very own “Little Brown Bag,” even if it does just contain a “Little Brown Espresso Cup,” and a half eaten bag of pita chips.
Thus, my tale begins on my last day in the city for that particular Manhattan excursion, when I decided to take one final pilgrimage to the land of $1,000 parkas.
During this particular spring, I had decided, as I do every now and again, to go blond. Inspired by fellow yoga and lipstick enthusiast, Lady Gaga. I also went with a chin-length cut and some nice long bangs. I regularly finished off this look with a giant pair of sunglasses (Note: If you have tiny little vatic eyes like me, huge Gagaesque sunglasses are like manna from Heaven). On this particular day, I was also carrying two giant bags–one with my laptop and a few yoga books, and my usual moderately priced vegan purse. Also, like every other person under the age of 50 in New York (or really anywhere) in the spring of 2011, I was wearing leggings, a mini-dress, and some terribly uncomfortable boots.
As I approached the front door of Bloomies, I observed someone getting out of a car. A REALLY nice car, that let this person out right in front. Now, not being a New Yorker, this didn’t phase me too much, I’m used to people getting in and out of non-taxi cars all of the time. What I did notice though, was the hair! Holy freaking cow. This person, who was now walking just in front of me, had the best haircut I’d ever seen. It was the cut and color that I myself had been going for, but at that very moment, I realized that I’d failed miserably. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the back of this lady’s head. It was sleek and shiny, and very, very expensive looking.
Then I noticed her bags. Now, I really don’t know for sure that one of them was a Birkin bag, but in my imagination it was, so just go with it (And yes, I know Birkin bags are made out of leather, and sheep guts, and unicorn tears, and no I would never personally purchase one, not even in the alternate universe where my childhood crush, Neil Patrick Harris is straight, and I am his kept trophy wife, OK?)
The scene, of me and the mystery woman in front of me, was, honestly, terribly amusing: She, with her perfect haircut, giant (non-scratched) sunglasses, fabulously fabulous boots, well-fitting dress, and two gigundo-sized designer handbags, and me, traipsing in behind with my knockoff haircut, blond that had gone a bit too brassy (with a good two inches of rootage poking though), giant sunglasses (from a street vendor) that I could barely see through, thanks to dropping them on the sidewalk way too many times, a tote bag from Barnes and Noble, and a Le Sport Sac handbag purchased on Ebay several years prior.
I trailed this woman feeling the equivalent of a Canal Street knockoff to her honest-to-Goddess Cartier watch–and I don’t mean that in a “feeling sorry for myself that I’m not a bajillionaire” kind of way, I was honestly just really amused at the contrast (though I did resolve to get to a hair salon before my trip was over).
Now, it should be noted, that every time I’ve gone into Bloomingdales (or Neiman Marcus, or Louis Vuitton, or anywhere that sells anything over two grand that can’t be driven or plugged in), that I always secretly think someone is going to ask me to leave. Like, no matter how many chocolate chip cookies, cappuccinos, or packages of stationary I buy, that having a disheveled 20-something with a face full of acne, and roots that would put 1980s Madonna to shame is just not worth it, as far as keeping up appearances is concerned. (Especially if said 20 something is wearing a backpack, which is often the case.) So, as I walked into the department store, following my thinner, richer doppelganger that spring day, I breathed a mental sigh of relief when the perfume spritzer smiled and said “good afternoon, ladies!” (As opposed to the “Hold it right there!…Security! We have a ragamuffin here…” that part of me always fears I will hear.)
I held my head a little higher as I headed for the escalator. The perfume spritzer referred had to me in the same sentence as someone that carried two purses with the combined worth of a four year tuition at a sate college! Maybe she even thought we came in together!
I rode behind her on the first escalator, and stepped off on the handbag/coffee/junior department floor, as she continued upward toward the cocktail dresses and fur coats (and no, I do not approve of fur, nor would I ever wear a fur coat either, even in the other alternate universe where I am competing in the Iditarod).
That’s when I saw her face.
I would recognize it anywhere, because she’s sort of a hero of mine. Thanks to my spoiler-laden title, it should surprise no one that it was Anna. Fucking. Wintour. I swear to God. I did, like, a triple-take to be sure, and then I Google-imaged her when I got home and stared at photos for like , 20 minutes to mentally confirm. Also, I checked the interwebs to see if she was actually in Manhattan that weekend (she was!) And even if it actually wasn’t her, and you know for sure, because you were officiating her chihuahua’s baptism in Saint Barths or something that March, for the love of all that is holy and sweet, let me have this! Besides that one time that I saw Lou Diamond Phillips at the grocery store, I seriously have some sort of celebrity repellant, and never seem to meet anybody, so really, I need this.
And honestly the story ends there. I realize there should be some sort of moral, or epiphany, or at least satisfying conclusion, like, say, I realized that a haircut or a handbag did not define me as a human being, or, in yet another alternate universe, Her Royal Vougueness spoke to me, was immediately charmed and offered me Lauren Weisberger’s former position at the magazine. But, no.
The only moral to this story, is that I am 99.9% sure that I once saw Anna Wintour, in person, and that is really fucking cool.