Friday, October 2, 2009

Poor Traits Of New Yorkers: Madison Avenue

Her hair, died a golden blond, is the colour of Egyptian gold. It's the warm gold that pairs so well with blue; eyes, skies or blood. You see this marriage in ceremonial sarcophagi, think Tut. The manes of Madison are coiffed beyond an inch of their privileged lives, often pulled back into tidy buns or playfully age defying pony tails. Hair like this does not take the bus or subway.

Large heavy rimmed tortoise shell sunglasses, worn in all weather, hide emotions, or the lack of them. Look closely at a dragonfly, or a house fly for that matter... try to read their eyes. You can't. You can't read the mind of a Madison Avenue maven either, though some of us love to try. I see them having a steely purpose, just as the fly seeks food. Shopping, as a life purpose, perpetuates 'the look' and, trust me, the look matters. It's everything. Well, not quite everything. There are other pressing matters, like attending granddaughter Muffy's fall cotillion.

On any given day, a uniform appears on Madison Avenue. It's a private school for rich old ladies. Thick, golden necklaces with oversized ringed links, complement the hair nicely. Scarves from Hermès are draped lavishly across open necked blouses. Skirts are mid-length, fashionably unlong. Shoes are high and, well, heeled.

To make these doyennes feel even more self-important, I provide contrast. I arrive wearing two t-shirts, my outer cotton shell displaying a drunk stick figure Madelinot carrying a guitar and an oversized bottle of something that's probably not Veuve-Clicquot. My jeans are shoddy, baggy in the derrière, and unfashionably flood worthy. My sneakers are made by Adidas (All Day I Dream About....Surfing). I'm scrubby, so I wear sunglasses to disguise my shame (ha!).

A strap crosses my shoulder. Tethered to its ends is an expensive camera and lens that is, in effect, my Coach bag. Just as the Coach bag carries the heartbeat of the maven, my camera quickens my pulse and focuses my lost mind. I choose a proper aperture, compose, and then fire. I am here to laugh at my fellow man, and woman. I am here to prove to myself that my life is more valuable than theirs.

A maven walks past in a massive hat, eliciting a contented smirk on my face. I suppose that I'm happy that she's found purpose in this cold, heartless place. I struggle. The shutter clicks. On my camera's viewfinder, I see one two-hundred and fiftieth of a second of one woman's life. I know nothing about this woman, so I shouldn't judge. For all I know she may have just returned from dropping off a million dollar cheque to a children's hospital. As she crosses the street, she grasps the brim of her 'cat-in-the-hat' lid, though there is no wind. She continues on up the street clutching her hat. She looks ridiculous. I want to buy her a chin strap, but Hermès doesn't have anything suitable. Perhaps some binder twine or downhaul rope would suffice.

I'm curious to know who she dresses for...herself? Me? Her husband? All men? The other women of Madison Avenue. Bingo! I'm pretty sure that she dresses for her fellow mavens. I can't imagine anyone other than Dr.Seuss, Dr.Freud, or Dr.Varty appreciating her 'costume'.

Now I wonder to myself...have I really painted a portrait of the Madison Avenue maven, or have I exhibited a portrait of myself? I know the answer, and so do you.

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