Friday, January 26, 2007

Real Again

The gin cocktails and Cosmopolitans at “Gramercy Tavern” beat the camp Kool Aid. We “Pearl Girls” know that much. And our clothes and style have become a hell of a lot more interesting (not to mention there’s simply more fabric); “Missoni” knits, snug jeans, “Marc Jacobs” flounced black skirts replace our “Gap” short shorts and tiny cotton tanks (come to think of it, the men might have offered us more free cocktails in our previous style incarnation…). The drinks and the clothes help to establish our new “station” in life, “station” being a much more palatable, refined word than “place” or “position” (the former and the latter rife with sexual implications). The Junior League wouldn’t like that. But, when you have 12 years to catch up on, where do you start, what do you highlight, what do you omit?  If you were given the chance to delete the embarrassing, the hurtful, the botched paragraphs from your life story, would you do it? Would you choose to tell a safe, forgettable, impressive tale?
Tea in Recoleta with the widowed Argentines… Kissing a sailor in Capri… “This little wine bar on a side street near Rue de Vernueille serves a breathtaking Margaux by the glass…” “Candace took a sip of her champagne, smiled and told me that any female narrator under the age of 30 was bound to be labeled as…” I throw my head back and laugh.
Yeah, I bragged and spoke of my travels and people I don’t really know and then I waited. I couldn’t wait to hear what she would toss my way. Oh, God, wait, she’s being honest? Heartbreak and failure, mornings in med school that begin at 4 a.m. and end 32 hours later, nights on bed with the “Food Network” and fried chicken?
There are friends who want the rough copy—not the red-lined, notes in the margin, edited version of me—but it’s just so hard to discern who these friends are nowadays. I feel like I’ve streamlined, becoming a jacket cover blurb of my former self. New York, sink or swim, baby! Put the best, Manolo-clad foot forward even if you can’t afford them and you’d prefer to run around in your stinky, year-old sneakers.
“Balthazar” at midnight with French fries and water—no more red wine—and I’m “me.” Lord, it’s sad that it takes the witching hour and a “Pearl Girl” to make me real again. But, it does and I begin to write the real chapters of my life on that bar stool and she reads them and likes them and asks for me to tell her more.

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