Fifth Avenue is still the great shopping street of New York, although it is not quite as smart as it used to be. In recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of cut-rate “linen” shops along FIfth Avenue, and the smaller smart stores, and some of the large ones, are deserting it for Madison.
-Cue’s Guide to New York City, Chap. 14: Shopping
Our day of glamour in the big city started at the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center. Acutally, technically, it started with us deciding that, as fun as it might be to stand outside of the windows of the Today Show and wave at the cameras, it was even more fun to sleep. Besides, I’ve never even watched the Today Show. So we had our nice continental breakfast at the hotel, and then toddled on over to take the studio tour. Which we had to wait about an hour to do, as it seems that one of the five things that every tour group does upon coming to New York is to take the NBC studio tour. So we had plenty of time to browse in the gift shop, which was really an attraction in and of itself. Do you want a ‘Crossing Jordan’ t-shirt? ‘Scrubs’ scrubs? A keychain-locket with a picture of the cast of ‘Friends’ on one side and the dates when it started and went off the air on the other? Me neither! And yet they’re all here, along with ‘Fear Factor’ shot glasses, ‘The Apprentice’ tank tops, and a frankly stunning array of ‘Will & Grace’ merchandise.
The studio tour was fun too; we got to see where they film their sports stuff and the evening news, and marvel over how small and unimpressive the sets look in real life. And that goes double for the Saturday Night Live set, although that one did have the bonus of being able to watch Nellie Furtado setting up to rehearse for her appearance this weekend. Our guides were actual studio pages, which seems to be one of those thankless, unpaid jobs that you only get in industries where the starry-eyed hopefuls vastly outnumber the available positions.
After the tour we headed across the street to Saks Fifth Avenue- the real one, the Saks on Fifth Avenue, for some intensive browsing. Which was going great until Mom checked her phone and discovered that there had been a minor catastrophe back at work, requiring her to go into crisis-management mode in the jewelry department.
That settled, we headed on up Fifth Avenue, in search of the high life and possibly lunch. We found one in the Cartier store (nice, but I still have issues with the diamond industry) and the other in the form of cokes and giant pretzels purchased from a street vendor, which we ate on the edge of Central Park. (Mom took a couple of pictures; I’ll post them if they’re flattering enough.) But it was becoming clear that the Problem was something that was going to have to be dealt with, so we took a break from the ogling of expensive goods and Mom returned to the room, while I headed off to Times Square to see what was available at the half-price tickets booth for tonight. Then it was once more into the retail space, with the intention of finding a card and gift for my cousin Ella’s graduation tomorrow, and to hear Vespers sung at the Episcopalian church.
Now I am going to break from my narrative and give you some background. All week long, I have been carefully following the weather reports. And all week long they had been predicting ‘thunder showers’ (whatever those are) for Thursday. But after spending all of last Friday lugging around my completely unnecessary raincoat, and having the umbrella in my purse get in the way every time I went for my wallet, I had gradually lost faith in the forecasters, and so, when I looked out and saw what a nice sunny day it was, I said to myself, ‘feh’, and left them behind. It was getting on in the afternoon, and we got distracted shopping at Brooks Brothers, so we decided to only peek into the service, because we really needed to get that present. And that must have made God mad, because we had only made it about half a block before it started to drizzle. Then it started to rain. Then it was coming down in the quantities generally described as “cats” and “dogs” and we were soaked through. And we couldn’t just go and wait it out, because it was almost six and the play was at eight, and at the very least we were going to have to change and dry our hair. So we made a run for it, squelching on through the crowds, who had mysteriously all sprouted umbrellas, arriving back at the hotel each her own personal river.
By the time we got dry and headed out again, it was a perfectly clear and lovely evening.
The play, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, was completely hilarious. The next time I come here I am definitely going to devote more time to going to plays, even though I may go broke doing it (even at half off, the tickets were pretty ruinous). Afterwards we went across the street, to the bar at the Palm restaurant, where I had a drink strong enough to more than make up for last night’s, plus some. But the great part was that a couple of the actors from the play came in and sat down at the next table over and we got to (discreetly) stare at them, Mom by just looking and me by turning around and pretending to be interested in the episode of ‘Law and Order” playing silently on the tv behind the bar. And if that isn’t glamour, then I don’t know what is.
Seriously, I don’t. What is it?