It was Valentine's Day in the Big Apple and I was working as a Personal Shopper/Stylist at New York's crème de la crème shopping haunt, Bergdorf Goodman. From my private office window overlooking 59th Street and the Plaza Hotel, the city was bustling and the Plaza doorman, Stanly, was ushering in lovers a dime a dozen. I spied romantics boarding horse and carriage rides as I peered north. On every corner, north to south and east to west, dozens of roses and bundles of mixed arrangements were being unloaded from trucks to vendors and into the hands of cupids all across New York City.
I was waiting eagerly to meet up with my Prince as the clock ticked away. I rushed through my sales log and at 4:58 pm on the nose, I reached my stocking-less legs beneath my desk, as I fished with my toes for my favorite black Manolo Blahnik stilettos. I was ready to go, giving myself a onceover twirl in my dressing room mirrors and a quick Chanel red lip touch up. I was wearing a form fitted red dress with a matching overcoat, a Hermes silk scarf and layered black onyx beads draping from my neck.
At 5:00 pm, I made the mad dash for the elevator and made it to the 1st floor where jewelry counters were swamped and Gucci and Goyard handbags were clearing the shelves. As I sprinted across 59th street weaving through window shoppers, idling Lincoln Town Cars and taxis, dodging raindrops and pointy umbrellas, I was off. I dashed through the plaza valet line, with a mutual goodnight hand waving exchange, between Stanley and I. I made my way around the northeast corner of the Plaza heading west. My destination was 1 Central Park West, the place to be that Valentines Day, Jean-Georges 5 star restaurant (Jean-Georges is world-renowned for his French cuisine, upscale dining and stellar service). While I was en route, with a few short blocks to go (which suddenly became long), I was anchored on my right side, while simultaneously being catapulted forward as I was ripped out of my right shoe. It was tragic, mortifying and, most of all, a fashion emergency to say the least. I landed on my feet thank goodness but who was worried about bodily injury? Not me! I was worried about being late and even more so, my Manolos. As I turned around to assess the real damage, I discovered a common New York City incident had taken place. My 4" stiletto was lodged within a sidewalk crack. "No problem," I thought to myself as I attempted to shimmy my shoe out of the crack, only to be catapulted backwards this time with a shoe in hand and a heel still lodged in the crack. "OMG," I though, "what am I going to do?" I continued to rock the heel back and forth until it finally came loose. I knew it could be fixed at Shoe Service, about 7 blocks south, but I had no time. I had to get to Jean-Georges by 5:30, before my Prince turned into a pumpkin! I was in full panic mode, a damsel in distress as we had waited months for our coveted table at Jean-Georges. I knew not a taxi light would be found lit in the city, due to rush hour and the regular taxi shift change during this time of day. The rain suddenly felt heavier and my lack of an umbrella certainly didn't make my situation any easier. I removed my right shoe and hid the evidence in my Mark Jacobs purse and continued onward. I prayed that with any stroke of luck, I would flag down a cab. I was officially late, my husband wasn't answering his phone and I had one shoe in the grave. I turned toward the street to check for taxis and one was pulling up curbside. As one man was paying his meter, another was slithering in. I was desperate. I approached the cab and knocked on the window. The man in the back seat, looking annoyed, rolled his window down. Immediately I began pleading with the ill chivalrous man to share his cab. He, like the rest of us New Yorkers, was in a rush! His first answer was "sorry!" Until, that is, I pulled out my shoe. "Where ya headed?" the man replied. "Jean-Georges, only two blocks away at 1 CPW," "jump in," the man replied, “I'm meeting my wife there." Go figure. With just one foot in the door, literally, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally and I felt like a wet mop. Was all this worth it for a taste of Jean-Georges and in the name of fashion?
I finally arrived at my destination and split the ride with my fellow cabbie. I slipped one foot into one shoe and, like a prima ballerina, raised myself onto my toes with the other. I walked as gracefully as I could, my face as red as my dress. I greeted my husband at the restaurant entrance, explaining why I was "getting off on the wrong foot" or better yet, the right foot. He stood close to my right side in effort to hide my one bare foot as we wedged ourselves in a corner of the restaurant reception area. I discreetly signaled the maitre d’ with a wave and raised eyebrows and he rushed to my aid. Excruciatingly, I explained the calamity of my venture to get to the restaurant. The maitre d’ felt my sense of desperation and said he would handle it. Handle it? Handle what and how?
Well you will never guess what he did. The maitre d’ had two waiters glued to my front and back right side as they escorted us to our table. As if that wasn't enough, another waiter came to my table with a linen napkin in hand and whispered in a French accent on bended knee, "Madame, please put your shoe in the napkin." Excuse me? Did I hear you correctly? “Yes, Madame.” I went along with it, not knowing the fate of my favorite right shoe. Was he going to trash it, hold it, clean it or glue it?
Nevertheless, my husband and I laughed over foie gras, black truffle ravioli and edible rose petals, just to name a few. By dessert, our waiter returned, napkin in hand and said, Madame, may I please have your foot? I extended my leg from beneath the long puddled tablecloth and pointed my toe as I felt my face turning flush. I couldn't help but scan the dining room to see if anyone besides us paid witness to this magical service moment. Once he raised the back strap over my Achilles he said, "your shoe is fixed 100% now you can walk out of here as if none of this EVER happened!"
My husband and I looked at each other in bewilderment. Talk about being waited on "hand and foot." Our evening was not only delicious and full of excitement but one of impeccable service, to say the least. I never got the chance to thank Jean-Georges personally, but maybe some way, some how, my story will find him.
And lastly, move over Cinderella, not only did I double up on Princes that evening, I thanked God it was a Manolo and not a glass slipper. What else would you expect; this is NY after all!
Happily Ever After,