had been a good experience.
at my desk, staring at a blank computer screen, I was interrupted
by a delightful sound: the ringing phone. There's nothing better
than receiving a call in the midst of being unproductive: it's
an excuse to take a break.
It was Liza. "Do you want to shop?"
she asked. "There's a sale at Bergdorf Goodman - 60% off
all shoes." My first inclination was to pass. Shopping for
me is a chore. But then again, I needed to get out; the grind
of not working was exhausting. So, impulsively, I said: "Sure."
Liza couldn't believe it. "You'll come?" She sounded
so stunned, you'd think I'd agreed to go skydiving.
Bergdorf Goodman, on the Upper East Side
of Manhattan, is like a five-star hotel - as soon as you get through
the revolving door, you feel like you're spending money by simply
breathing. The air is colder, the linen crisper; everyone is thin
and rich with immaculate hair. Liza and I stood there sweating
from the humidity outside. If someone had taken a snapshot of
that moment, the caption would have read: "What's out of
place in this picture?"
We got in the lift with a woman wearing
a hat and sunglasses. The brim on her hat was so wide, we barely
managed to squeeze in beside her. _Her perfume was like a gas
fume - I had to hold my breath to stave off a migraine. Then she
pointed her manicured fingernail at the button, saying: "Three,
right?" She knew. We had "sale" written all over
Whereas the lobby had the atmosphere of
a symphony hall, the third floor had the energy of a Madonna concert.
Women were in a frenzy trying on designer shoes - the kind of
elegant frenzy where $2,000 Hermés bags and all the riches
inside them are left unattended so that a Jimmy Choo mule can
be tested out.
Having never before tried on a pair of Manolo
Blahnik heels, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I
found a pair in my size, sexy black leather stilettos - and they
I walked around on the plush carpet and
commented to Liza that I couldn't get over how comfortable they
"I could wear them all day," I
said. But where would I wear them to? My life doesn't live up
to the shoes. It's not like I wear sexy stilettos so often I need
a really comfortable pair. But as soon as I saw the sticker on
the bottom, the decision was made for me: $600 was 60% off? For
that price, they should come with a boyfriend and a house on Fifth
Avenue. I looked around: women were purchasing boxes of Blahniks
as if they were biscuits.
There are certain moments in life where
you witness an event or a scene so transformative, you know it
will haunt you for ever. This was one of those moments. It was
like going to the Antarctic and seeing the effects of global warming
first-hand. Face to face with something you don't want to think
about. Now, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I'll remember
that on the third floor in the Bergdorf Goodman shoe department,
there will be frantic women dropping thousands on shoes.
Before leaving, we hit the basement for
free samples of an expensive face cream I'll never use. Shopping
had been a good experience. I realised that I live with the meaninglessness
of life all the time; I just never know how much money I'm saving.