Heads up. This will make me sound like an old fogey.
With the season’s chill on its way in, I was on a mission last week to get a new pair of leather gloves. I’d decided to stray from my usual black and go for something hip, something wild. Teal! Purple! I had in my mind’s eye exactly where I would go…one of the last remaining flagship stores in the city, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the long case in the glove department that I knew would house a plethora of tempting choices. I also had in my mind’s eye the stately woman behind said counter who would undoubtedly ask, “May I help you Madame?” I would follow my shopping spree by dropping into St. Pat’s next door for a contemplative several minutes as if in compensation to my indulgence. Happy with anticipation I walked through Central Park replete with autumn colors, to my destination.
Leaving the throng of 5th Avenue, pushing the heavy, ornate metal framed entry doors, I thought of Mom. Going to Saks had been something we’d done together on special occasions throughout my childhood. I could almost feel my little girl hand in hers as I entered it’s hallowed halls. Oh how she would have loved this outing and oh boy did she ever have a nose for bargains. Miss you Mom.
I walked past the perfumes and purses to where I knew the gloves would be but did not find them. I asked a staff member to direct me and she casually tossed a nod over to the far corner. This did not bode well. There, practically squeezed out by wildly patterned hosiery, was a tiny table on which sat four short stacks of leather gloves. Brown, gray, black and neon red. On a nearby table was a healthy display of fingerless, Fagin knit gloves covered in cheap glitter. I stood sort of Rip Van Winkle like in this ruin of a department. Gloveless, I went into St. Pat’s for solace. Calmed and exiting I remembered that Nordstom’s had just opened a new store only a few blocks away. I could go there! With a renewed spring in my step, off I went. Approaching the store you could see bright lights framing its entry as if something to aim for at the end of a tunnel. I entered. “Hey! How ya doing?” shouted a bouncy someone. “Cute coat!” hollered an overly friendly ‘nother. It was the only way their voices could be heard over the DJ’s music. Make that live DJ and next to his elaborate set up was a Chippendale’s worthy bartender offering drinks as he danced with enthusiastic innuendo, to the thumping beat. When a third person shouted, “Whatcha lookin for?”, I realized these heretofore friendly fellow customers were in fact the staff. So much for “May I help you, Madame?” When I mimed gloves, she replied with a boisterous “Cool!” and pointed further down the aisle. There I found a pile of ill organized gloves, few of them leather, most of them Lord help me, gortex. I could feel a mild sense of panic start to take over in this perfect storm of cacophonous music, frantic customers in desperate need of a purchase fix and salespersons’ force fed glee. I’d been sucked through some wormhole into a virtual world of Selfie-ism that had exploded into 3D reality. Calling on memories of exiting crowded disco floors in the 70’s, I did an about face and headed for the door. Once again gloveless, I escaped the clutches of immediate gratification and mad hatter cheer to what by comparison, was the bucolic calm of Broadway at rush hour.
I get, really get for the first time the total appeal of buying on Amazon, which I am resigned to do. I’ll get my gloves in due time and I’m sure I’ll enjoy them. I feel, however, for the shoppers who will never have the memory of privilege that I hold of hearing your own thoughts in a beautiful department store with an elegant woman who asks “May I help you, Madame?”