There exists, at 77th and Lexington, an establishment by the name of ‘Hot & Crusty’ specializing in all manner of hot and crusty things, from croissants to pizza to a dessert case so full you wonder how often they run out of anything and have to bite your tongue to keep from asking, ‘Just how old are those danishes, anyway?’ It is neither beautiful nor friendly—as evidenced by the 20-minute time limit for customers to sit and eat.*
I found myself there on my way home from work last week, needing some water and time before descending into my commute. I was staring at my phone when in walked the most elegant Upper East Side socialites I have ever seen (and you know competition for that distinction is FIERCE). One had a short bob and wore camel slacks that were just the right length to showcase her red block heels. Of course she wore red lipstick, perfectly applied. Her friend wore a dress I can best describe as both billowy and crisp. Her snowy white hair was tucked into a French twist without a single bobby pin showing. It was a hairstyle so impossibly perfect that Newton would have been forced to re-examine his whole gravity idea, had he witnessed it.
They looked out of place in the Hot & Crusty, like the kind of New Yorkers who would refuse to set foot in such a dingy place, yet they seemed at ease. That’s the thing about New Yorkers. In some ways they are snobby and pretentious, and in others they are so, so, so not. How else do you explain all the Gray Papaya hot dog restaurants in Manhattan?
As the ladies shared a copy of the Financial Times, which by the way is the only newspaper I know that’s printed on light peach paper (and do you think that is to appeal to aging débutantes?), I couldn’t help but overhear eavesdrop. And I even went so far as to transcribe some of their more outrageous statements.
Here are my favorite quotes. They make much more sense when read aloud by two people, so please, grab a friend, don some hats, and get into character! Who knows, maybe if we role-play enough, we’ll develop that crisp socialite accent and get invited to all the galas.
Lady the First: Heavens to Betsy! It’s even hotter in Paris than here. I was thinking of going on the 1st, but I won’t be going unless it cools down.
Lady the Second: What’s happening in Paris?
Lady the First: Oh, nothing, but there’s always something to do in Paris.
Lady the First: My brother and sister-in-law have a mold problem in their crummy apartment building on 5th Avenue. They expected the work to be done before their return, but of course the workers haven’t finished.
Lady the Second: Anybody could have predicted that.
Lady the First: Yes. But they were surprised, and now my brother wants to stay away until the workers have finished. They’re in Austria, but they don’t know where they’ll go after this weekend.
Lady the First: Well, like all philanthropically-minded people—
Lady the Second: Heaven save us from them.
Lady the First: Yes, Heaven save us.
* I generally avoid the phrase ‘Only in New York!’, but I think this warrants it.