Shop ’til You…Run Out of Money!

by Debra Chappell

The last day of my New York sojourn was filled with complete sensory immersion; I took in all the wonder, sightseeing, eating, shopping, and chocolate one could consume and still remain this side of self-loathing.  The meeting with my new literary agent the previous day had gone splendidly, I had chosen the editor for my new book, and had one more day of celebration and self-indulgence before I had to go home. (What it cost in calories and cash wouldn’t hit me until much later – and because it was SO much fun, I will share it with you here in two parts, one now, and one in my next blog, so you don’t become blurry eyed for all the details!)

The night before, relieved to have all my meetings behind me, I had taken myself to a new Broadway play and enjoyed it immensely.  Though I was alone, I didn’t feel self-conscious in the small crowded theater and was invigorated enough afterwards to walk the city in the slight drizzle, among the throngs still out in the holiday crush.  Though my agent had suggested I give it a few days until I returned home to inform my new editor of my decision, I knew there was no point in waiting. Sometimes your gut speaks louder than the voice of reason – and I had already made up my mind.  I called late that evening after the play from Times Square, to give her the news that I’d like her to work on my book.  She sounded equally excited and I was struck once again by her enthusiasm, high energy and committed belief in the project.  We talked of our immediate “bond”, some of her first impressions during her initial “read” and several ideas for the work ahead.  She promised to finish the manuscript and have the first set of editorial notes to me by the New Year.  I hung up feeling elated, grateful, and even more confident she was the perfect choice, and if it weren’t for the fact that I was standing in the middle of Times Square surrounded by complete strangers, I would have pulled a Tebow right there and then, in front of the Good Morning America studios (an idea that those who know me well will find highly amusing.) I strolled to a little café on 34th Street, ordered a glass of Chardonnay and a salad, and secretly pinched myself again and again.  I decided that though I would have loved to have shared it all with my husband, a date with myself in NYC wasn’t half bad.

When I first heard the name Bergdorf Goodman, it sounded like some law firm. Though it wasn’t one I was familiar with, it had already been mentioned twice since I’d arrived, once by a friend who recommended having Champagne there, and the second time during the meeting with my agent the day prior. I thought it must be a fancy-schmancy hotel and woke up on the final day of my visit determined to find out just what the fuss was all about. I politely asked the concierge at my hotel “Can you direct me to the Bergdorf Goodman?”  He smiled and said, “Bergdorf-Goodman? You can’t miss it, just go up 5th Avenue, past Saks and all the other designer stores, it’s right on 58th, before Central Park.”

Puzzled I asked, “Is it a hotel?”  He laughed and told me no, it was a very large and famous department store.  (So much for my worldliness…We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!)

I hoofed it up to 5th avenue, determined to walk off some of the calories from all the cheesecake I’d been consuming during my stay.  The cold air was rushing through wind tunnels created by tall buildings lining the side streets. It had started to rain so I ducked into a small drugstore along the way and bought a cheap umbrella that promptly turned inside out in a strong gust just a block from where I had made the purchase.  I tried to right it, but it eventually gave way again so I bobbed into another little store and bought a second, more expensive one for the remainder of the walk, hoping it would survive the mounting gale.  I couldn’t help but be distracted by all the shops along the way – Saks (of course,) Louis Vuitton, Prada, Henri Brendel…  And then there was Rockefeller Center with the ice skating rink, the Salvation Army volunteers rockin’ to their boombox holiday tunes, and Bouchon Bakery where I indulged in a coffee and French macaroons before braving the gathering storm on the way up to 58th.When I finally caught sight of the Bergdorf Goodman my pulse quickened. It’s several story’s high with a number of different entrances, and had holiday wreaths on each and every window of the upper floors, which must have amounted to hundreds.  I darted in a side entrance and rode the escalator through several floors, perusing the wide and varied designers with price tags to match their exclusive reputations.  I gawked through the different departments marveling at the selection – slightly different from the fashion choices at the local JC Penney’s and Kohl’s at home.  Mindful of the recommendation from my friend Linda when I first arrived, I made my way to the 7th floor to check out the restaurant.  She was right, a terrific view of the city and wide selection on the menu.  I made a mental note but decided I didn’t want to waste time eating when there was still so much to see (and shop for.)  Besides, in the back of my mind, Macy’s was beckoning with their 30% off holiday sale and a shoe department that went on for three blocks.

I made the courageous decision to abandon the sanctuary of the upper crust and head back into the rain, heading south toward 34th street another 23 blocks away, fighting the weather, puddles and other umbrellas all the way. Since finding a taxi in the dismal weather seemed futile, it was kind of liberating stomping around looking like hell along with everyone else schlepping around looking the same.  When I finally arrived at Macys, it was teeming with bargain hunters and the din of holiday music, festive noise and enthusiastic voices.  Unlike the staid, hushed and demure atmosphere of BG, this place was in the full swing of holiday madness.  I headed directly to the shoe department in search of the perfect pair of black boots I didn’t know I needed until encountering the huge red signs announcing the 3-day sales “event”.  After trying on several pair (and thankful for the chance to sit down and rest) I selected a pair “designed” by Ivanka Trump. It seemed fitting somehow, not only in making a uniquely NY purchase, but in my own way, demonstrating a small act of defiance towards The Donald who, in my humble opinion, has an ego far exceeding the extent of his talent and a scowl that fittingly reflects the depth of his personal charm.  (And let’s not get started on the hair…) The boots are pretty terrific in any case, and nothing like I could find at home!

By 3:30, it was already almost dark and I was beat, soaked, and tired.  The idea of a glass of Champagne and a bowl of soup on top of the Bergdorf Goodman was sounding better and better, if I could only rally long enough for the trek back 23 blocks… Because my hotel was only a few short blocks away, it was a tough decision.  What the heck, I thought, how often do I get to New York City? I clutched my umbrella, lowered my head, and dove into the soggy, bustling crowd outside Macy’s to make my way to back to 5th Avenue, and retrace the steps back to Bergdorf Goodman.