Are you there, readers? It’s me, Mrs. Tittle-Tattle. The one who lives at 801 Park Avenue. Yes, the building that used to be really “old guard” until the Board decided that money was a lot more important than membership at the Colony Club. My editor believes that ranting about life on the Upper East Side is not, as my therapist says, something I have to “work on”—and so a column is born!
According to Nancy Pelosi, “the party is over,” but around here the actual parties are far from over (as you can tell from the pages of The Sheet). Remember, most of the fall benefit tickets were purchased during the bull market, so recent galas have been brimming with pre-crash jewels. But now that the bull has taken a great big dump on us all, (and a certain mega-swindler investor flushed away the funds of countless Manhattan and Palm Beach titans) you may not get your friends to keep writing hefty checks to your pet charity. Most people I know are not having that great a life anymore, unless they stashed their money under their Pratesi-sheeted mattresses, or are heavily medicated. Many of my neighbors on “Main Street” Park Avenue need a bailout of their own. Now, you might not think of Park Avenue as Main Street, but for those whose pre-war co-ops occupy only one floor and who had to convert their maid’s room into the third child’s bedroom, times are very tough. People are talking about selling Southampton homes just to meet their private school capital campaign pledges.
My husband, a corporate lawyer who is still gainfully employed, is very worried about our investment losses and the value of our apartment. Personally, I am gloating over the fact that my banker and hedge fund neighbors are a little less arrogant when they see me in the elevator, but overall the mood around here is funereal. Even the doormen are depressed, because bad bonuses led to bad holiday tips. So now they have zero motivation to help with my bags or tell me that my groceries arrived two hours ago and are rotting in the basement.
In this ravaged economy, people have to prioritize. My neighbor, Susan Landers, confided that they can no longer afford to have one nanny per child. They are downsizing to a single nanny system, which we all know is going to drive Susan to start drinking again. And she is not a happy drunk. She once went on a tear and grabbed my neighbor, Joyce Bilson, by her Chanel lapels, shaking her so hard that Joyce’s brand new facelift fell about two inches. Even though Dr. Silver repaired it, I could swear the left eyebrow is significantly lower than the right one.
The Landers’ may even consider firing the dog walker, even though Lulu is the most pampered pooch on Park and Susan likes the dog a lot better than she likes her kids. That’s probably why her daughter Jessica dresses sluttier than those Gossip Girls —she is so desperate for attention.
Not like my Caroline, who at eleven has better judgment than half my friends. She can’t stand it when mothers dress like their teenagers, and I know what she means. Even if your 40-year-old abs are flat as a pancake, I really don’t want them shoved in my face, especially when I am eating a bagel with cream cheese. Don’t get me wrong—I work out with my trainer like everyone else around here, but I’m not obsessive. I’m trying as hard as I can to avoid facial fillers, but all this stress is wreaking havoc on my brow line.
Oh, the irony! We feel guilty for spending money on pampering ourselves, but in these turbulent times, we need our Ajune Day Spa treatments more than ever. My friend Laura said that she’d rather not eat for two days than give up her facials. Even though she has an eating disorder and doesn’t eat for days anyway, I know that many women around here feel the same way. A sinking economy is better than a sinking jowl.
And while some people may decide to ditch the City, there is one thing today’s Manhattan parents will not skimp on: their kids. Around here, economizing means little Charlotte cannot get an i-Phone, but when she tells friends that her parents can’t afford it, she miraculously arrives with one the next week. Can’t have people assuming financial trouble, or Mom and Dad won’t get invited to “the right” parties anymore, and then it’s just a downward spiral to social ruination and a hasty retreat to Ohio on the pretense that they want to be closer to the relatives they always hated.
Listen, we might be down in the dumpster, but New Yorkers still know how to put on a good show. Impoverished billionaires (now reduced to mere millionaires) are still dining at favorite watering holes like Nello’s, Le Cirque, and The Four Seasons, some even with their original wives, since the trophy wife industry has taken a big hit, too. But no crisis will stop us from thinking we are better than everyone else on the planet. To paraphrase an old standard: “Although our Wall Street may crumble, the Dow Jones may tumble, their worth varies each day, but our greed is here to stay!”