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Saturday, July 31, 2004

People watching

After my day of walking I was ready to take a nap last night. Instead, I threw on a sleeveless dress and headed out for dinner and to experience more NY energy. I opted to go across the street to Maison Brasserie with a wonderful outdoor cafĂ©. I was seated near the sidewalk in a spot that faced 7th and 53rd and was ideal for people watching, one of the truly great NY experiences. I ordered a glass of white wine from a waiter who spoke with what sounded like a French accent. I’ll have to ask him about his story.

My meal looks beautiful—seared tuna with mesculin lettuce, some kind of very different petite potato and haricot vers. “Chick food” my hubby would say. The French appreciate the subtle blend of flavors—tuna, gourmet black olives, cherry tomatoes, and hard-boiled egg with just a light hint of vinaigrette. It’s an artful combination.

There’s a flurry of people heading out to Broadway shows. One family walks by with two girls carrying huge American Girl Doll bags. Yikes! I’ve seen those catalogs and that stuff is expensive. Makes me glad I don’t have girls. My friend Lisa Best calls me on the cell and laughs as she hears the familiar taxis honking. Her family just moved back from Ridgewood, N.J.

I saw a mom and her grown daughter dressed in matching black stretch tops revealing major cleavage, mini skirts, bleach-bottle blond hair and giant gold hoop earrings. Oy!

Okay now here’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve been watching these past two days. Experienced New Yorkers really don’t stop and wait for the walk sign to cross the street; they just go as if can’t be troubled by traffic. What I’ve observed is that there’s a rhythm to this and you start to pick up on it if you pay attention.

Women in New York wear some amazing shoes. It defies logic how they can walk the streets of Manhattan in such insensible shoes. Maybe I just wish I could wear them. Alas, I cannot and must accept my limitation.

The guys selling knock-off designer handbags make me laugh and I realize that most of the women I know in Cleveland have probably purchased one of these—Kate Spade, Burberry, Louis Vitton. Thing is, I can’t stand the cheesy labels on these things. I prefer a much subtler style sans label. Give me a fine leather bag with no identifying logos any day and I’m happy.

Thought New York would be more dressed up, but it’s fairly casual. I have to confess that’s disappointing in a way. Lot of flip-flops, bare bellies and hip-huggers, just like home.

I’m fighting a tinge of loneliness this evening, mostly because there are so many people with whom I’d like to share this experience. I keep thinking about what I would show the kids first. I think it has to be Times Square. It’s simply unbelievable and they will be able to relate having seen it on TV. Though I must confess, I’ve had my fill of the mayhem there. I want to show them everything.

There are some great stories here. I considered asking to see Margaret Bourke-White’s photography studio on top of the Chrysler Building, or the home where Edith Wharton grew up or backstage at Carnegie Hall or the finest suite at The Plaza. I want the back story. Instead I ask my waiter where he’s from. Turns out he’s from Switzerland and—surprise—he’s an actor. He’s got a bit part in a Brooklyn production of “Twelfth Night.” I wish him well and head in for the night.

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