Valentine’s Day has come to pass, thankfully.
This year, our first year married, I wanted to do something special for the holiday. Not that I am a big fan of forced romance or even a buyer in the world of created Hallmark holidays, but I thought it fitting to celebrate our first Valentine’s Day dinner in true newlywed style with a fancy, expensive dinner at one of New York’s special restaurants.
Of course, M was running late – another busy day at work. “We have an 8pm reservation at 57 at the Four Seasons,” I left him a voicemail reminder mid-day. Last year, we attempted the same stab at romance through gastronomy at Arabelle only to get there and see that the menu resembled the endangered species list. There wasn’t one item on the menu that I could eat and it looked more like a listing of animals at the zoo than it did a palatable dinner choice. We promptly left and headed to Park Avenue Café for something more recognizable. This year I was hoping would be better.
At 8, M sashayed into the hotel, looking weary from a day of endless work. I stood waiting with a dirty martini in the back bar, I knew he needed that as much, or even more than a kiss on the cheek from me. “Thank you,” he said as he took the drink from my grasp and took a nip off the top. The bar was bustling with out of town tourists and a fair share of escorts which seem the norm at the Four Seasons, but probably multiplied due to the holiday. I slid the gift-wrapped box to M, “It’s more cufflinks.” I wasn’t trying to ruin the surprise or remove the joy of tearing through the silver paper and opening the velvet box, but choosing an unusual gift for M is nearly impossible so I went with the one thing which he can never have too much of. “I knew that already,” he said as he ripped off the last piece of sliver paper which dangled from the side. “Oh wow!” he remarked. “These are great. Do I have ones that look like these already?”
The hostess showed us over to our table at the restaurant that was nearly empty yet was nearly impossible to get a reservation. We looked over the menus for a few moments, neither of us commenting as we tried to locate what calorie-laden selection we would pick. “I have an idea,” M whispered across the table. I braced myself since sometimes when M has an idea or a plan it often times isn’t in synch with my own. “Want to go get sushi?”
I had been thinking the same thing. Looking at the menu, at entrees over $40 that didn’t make me salivate, I wasn’t excited for the meal. It was food forced down my throat along with a holiday which is forced down the communal throat of many. “Done,” I said closing my menu and signaling for the waiter to come over so that I could beg off and apologize for our early departure. “We have an emergency,” I said as I grabbed my teeny-tiny purse and we dashed for the door.
“You read my mind!” I said to M. We were on exactly the same page. In synch with each other, the way love and marriage should be.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
This cold weather snap has been a nightmare not just on my mood but also on my locks. Dry and brittle, I have hat hair even when I don’t put on a hat with fly-aways that shoot straight into the air like antennas. There was more static electricity coming from my hair than a load of laundry without fabric softener.
February blues and a case of winter melancholy forced me out of my apartment, in a cab and uptown until I arrived at the doorstep of a salon which I read about on the pages of some national fashion magazine.
I was long overdue for a haircut. I counted back on my fingers trying to figure out just how long it had been. Wow, four months, I thought. It was October; right before I got married I went for just “a-slight-don’t-do-anything-crazy-to-it” trim before the wedding. I marveled that I have actually been married for four months and that I have split ends which could be fringe on a carpet.
“So, what do you want to do,” the oh-so-fashionable stylist with a multi-color wild shag-do said as he pushed my hair to the front and then over and around like Donald Trump.
Shaking myself free from the Trump-do, I shrugged my shoulders. “I am open to suggestion. Just don’t take too much off the length.” In my twenties, I swore at 30 I would get that sensible short, shoulder-length haircut that would give me that professional look. At 30, I rethought it, let my Rapunzel hair down, and left it open for discussion when I hit 40.
He fussed with my hair a bit more, cocked his head sideways and rested it on his finger in pensive thought. “Oh, oh, oh! I’ve got it,” he said, his energy contagious. “Kate Moss. Yes, we are going to do Kate Moss.” He was almost giddy with excitement. “Have you seen her new haircut?”
I let my subscription to People lapse and I hadn’t picked up a tabloid magazine in a few weeks since my last flight. “Sure, go for it. Love it.” I didn’t want to disappoint and he seemed so sure, even if I had not a friggin clue what Kate Moss looked like these days. She was thin, that I was sure of, she was a supermodel, so what the heck – let’s go for it.
He started cutting in the back. I watched like a mother keeping an eye on her children in a busy airport. A few short inches cascaded down my arm, the wet locks coming to rest on the rubber mat under the chair. I breathed easy; I still had long hair.
We chatted about current events and fashion – the new Prada shoes for spring, Britney’s latest meltdown, the new “It” bag. Comfortable in his chair, I put my trust in his brilliant scissor-hands as he layered the front portion of my hair. My long bangs slowly getting shorter…and shorter…and shorter until they were full-fledge bangs. I lost my breath. My stomach cramped. Holy horse balls, I thought, as I glanced at my new reflection in the mirror – I HAVE BANGS. Not just slight bangs that can be brushed aside, but bangs like the bowl cut my mother gave me in Kindergarten after I got gum stuck in my hair for the umpteenth time.
When he was done cutting, he sprayed the front and back with “just a bit of gloss” and marveled at his work. “It’s so rock-n-roll. You can totally pull-off this look. It’s sassy!” Glancing down at my Burberry shirt, tweed blazer and semi-sensible boots, I wondered just what part of me looked rock-n-roll. Did he have X-ray vision? Was I wearing a pair of leopard print panties and matching bra? Nope. I looked more Sweatin' with the Oldies than Rock-n-Roll.
I walked home. In the bitter cold, I walked all the way home as the ice rain fell on the city streets and little tiny crystallized icicles formed on my newly sheared bangs. My head looked like a roof on a Gingerbread house in a Christmas store window. When I got home, I Googled Kate Moss Bangs and it all became crystal clear.
I’m still not sure how I feel about my new haircut. M is out of town and has yet to see it. I wonder if he will recognize me? I wonder if my new rock-n-roll style may need some new clothing to match. I ‘m not sure. But I am going to go do a few shots of Jack Daniels and trash the apartment while listening to Guns n Roses on the loudest setting on the stereo. I am SOOOOOOOOO Rock-n-Roll.
Posted by Carrie Gross Pestronk at 10:00 PM
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
“I am sick of looking at these white walls,” I said to M as he put on a baseball cap and stared at his reflection in the mirror. “It’s just so, so, I don’t know – dull and lifeless. It’s like we are living in a box. I think we need to add some color in here. Maybe I should paint them?”
Since the wedding planning was over, I have been searching for outlets for my creativity, looking for projects where I can flex my creative muscle before it atrophies entirely. “What color do you want to paint?” M asked as he drained the bottom of his coffee cup and placed it in the sink.
“Maybe beige and an accent wall which is gray?” My one semester at New York School of Interior Design had gone entirely unused despite my true interest in the field. Except for the occasional purchase of Architectural Digest from the newsstand which I thumb through every so often and display on the coffee table, I have barely touched upon decorating this apartment. “It’s just that, now that we are married, I want this place to be a reflection of our tastes, of our style. I want to add a little color to our lives. ”
Matt grabbed his gym bag and headed for the door. “Paint whatever color you like, but I don’t want to get home from the gym and find a pink prison in here.”
I promised pink wasn’t on my color palette and followed M out the door and over to Janovic on 67th and 3rd. On the way over, I ran through all those buzz words I had learned during my short stint in the design world: texture, dimension, accent, balance, harmony – and decided that the best color to compliment our décor style was gray. It was strong, rich and bold yet neutral enough to not get sick of, and it would do a better job of hiding Chief’s drool marks than the eggshell white which is the current color.
With the help of an employee, I browsed through the Benjamin Moore paint chip color options. “What shade of gray are you looking for,” he asked me as he brought over what looked like countless paint chips. “Do you know what kind of finish you want? Matte, Satin, Gloss, Semi-Gloss? Do you want a blue-gray, silver-gray? We have a beautiful brownish gray. Oh, where is that chip?” He continued to pull paint chips and bring them over to me where my head swirled with the many options.
“I hadn’t really gotten further than just gray, that was kinda where I stopped.” I was overwhelmed by just how many shades of gray there were. “If you have a throw pillow or a piece of fabric you are looking to work with, we can match a color to that,” he said. In my bag I had a half-dozen lip glosses in many shades of pink and peach, but I didn’t have a throw blanket or a pillow. I tried to picture the wall which I wanted to paint, visualize what was around that wall: Chief’s red food dish, a black and taupe tattered rug, a chocolate brown crushed-velvet chaise. “I’m thinking something with a relative in the brown family. Maybe a deep gray with hints of taupe or brown?”
“Well that narrows it down quite a bit,” he said as he shuffled the chips which were in front of me, removing ones that no longer fit the criteria.
Two hours later, I was still sitting at the same table, still unable to select a color, to make a decision. It’s like when people ask you what your favorite color is, I never have answer for that. My favorite color for wall paint is very different than my favorite color for a sweater, and my favorite color for a sweater is certainly different than my favorite color for a sofa. (A Kelly green sofa would be extremely ugly.) I decided to call M to get his input.
“I don’t’ care,” he said. I could hear the TV in the background and tell his interest was elsewhere. “Gray is fine with me.”
“But what shade of gray?”
“Light. Light gray is good.”
“But light gray with purple in it, with brown in it, with blue in it?”
“Match it to Chief’s fur,” M said.
I looked at the cuffs on my pants, and sure enough a clump of the dog’s fur was covering my left ankle. I asked for a piece of tape and gathered a swatch of the fur on the sticky side and put it down next to the paint chips. As it turns out, the dog has a lovely coat of brownish gray fur, which on its own makes for a nice wall color called Taos Taupe.
Posted by Carrie Gross Pestronk at 9:12 AM