Saturday was sweltering. The Russian lover and I sat across from each other with our morning coffee, panting and lethargic, and decided to flee. We would trade one unbearably hot East coast city for another, in what was not so much an attempt to beat the heat as to disregard it.
So, instead of spending our Saturday wandering around Philadelphia, we spent it wandering around SoHo. I like SoHo; I like how quiet it gets on a summer weekend evening, after being busy all day with the tourists and shoppers.
But we arrived in the late afternoon. Downtown was still congested with people shopping and tourists gaping, and we crawled along Green Street. We got stuck behind a taxi hailed by an older, round balding man. A younger, heavily made-up brunette leapt into the car ahead of him, and he struggled to get in after her with an overflowing bag from Agent Provocateur. One long tissue-wrapped item threatened to spill out onto the street as he wedged himself into the backseat; no guesses as to who was using that whip on whom later that night
While we waited for the light to change, a double-decker sight-seeing bus going the opposite direction miscalculated and ended up “blocking the box.” Our light finally turned green, and the bus still hadn’t moved. Perhaps this was intended on the part of the guide, so that the tourists could experience first-hand the disposition of irate NYC drivers. Because not two seconds had passed before a symphony of horns started tuning up; I looked over just in time to see the Russian lover roll down the window and wave his middle finger at the perplexed convoy. I think a Japanese grandmother took a picture of it.
The only sensible way to walk around when it was 95+ degrees was to intersperse sprints of walking with ducking into air-conditioned stores. Like swimmers coming up for air, we walkwalkwalked then gasp! into the arctic tomb of Armani to look around and lust and then GO! back onto the street to walkwalkwalk then gasp! into the cool dark cave of Costume Nationale to try on winter coats and fantasize about autumn. We made our way around much of SoHo in this manner.
When it comes to clothes shopping, designer names entice me, but SALE signs compel me. We came to a door that announced 60% REDUCTION and, while we had never heard of the line, we decided to go in and give it a try. We wandered around in confusion at what we were seeing. There's no way to describe it, really. If Barbie, the Gastineau girls, and your mechanic's girlfriend had collaborated and launched a clothing line, it might have turned out something like this.
I tried to like a jacket; I held it up for the Russian lover who simply made a face of pain. One of the salesmen standing a few feet away observed this. He leaned in conspiratorially, and in a low, even tone he said, “It’s not your style.” I looked at him, confused. Wasn't it his job to get me to buy as much of this crap as possible? “It’s not your style,” he stated again. I relented. I put the jacket down and stood there, looking around me at the store – maybe there was something wonderful hidden here that I wasn’t seeing. He saw my sweeping gaze and marked it. “It’s not your style,” he said in a firm voice that suggested I should not even consider a purchase from this store. I looked at him, and he said it again. But this time our eyes locked, and I heard the pleading underneath his refrain: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WOMAN WAKE UP THIS IS A STORE FOR PLATINUM-DYED BROADS FROM LONG ISLAND AND THEIR THUG JERSEY BOYFRIENDS. I WON’T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR A REASONABLY DRESSED WOMAN DESCENDING INTO THE DEPTHS OF FASHION DEPRAVITY. LEAVE THIS PLACE AND NEVER RETURN, BUT THINK OF ME SUFFERING HERE IN JESSICA SIMPSON’S CLOSET AND WISHING I WAS HITTING ON THE BOYS AT DIOR HOMME.
I turned to the Russian lover. “Well, I guess it’s not my style.”
We made for the door, escorted by the clerk. He ushered us out protectively, eyes darting like he expected another sales person to ambush us at any moment to try and convince us that the jacket was a good idea. “It’s not your style” he said again, mostly to himself, as we walked out. He watched us briefly from the window with a weary smile that spelled his relief at having saved another one.