When I was a kid, I believed there were a few inalienable marks of adulthood: getting up early because you actually wanted to; liking coffee and arcane vegetables. I now maintain certain indicators suggest -- more than mere adulthood -- that you are, quite simply, old. An abbreviated list: getting a flu shot (to date, I've steadfastly refused); voting one's wallet, uttering to a child, "When I was your age..." followed by a statement either hyberbolic (a la the proverbial "I walked six miles to school in the snow") or merely ridiculous (i.e., "there was no Crest for Kids. We brushed with regular toothpaste and we were glad to have it.")
This weekend, I landed plop in the middle of a situation that had me truly feeling every second of my age. When I first heard of Saturday's scheduled one-day mega sale at Marc Jacobs on Mercer Street, featuring bags from $50 to $300 and shoes 90 percent off, I didn't give it a second thought. Once upon a time, the promise of a deal, whether at retail or a sample sale, would find me first in line. I could push, shove and grab, albeit politely enough, with the best of them. Now, thank you, I'll pass.
Then a few things happened. I mentioned the sale to my sister-in-law in Scarsdale, whom I adore, and who was in the market for size 10 shoes. Then someone called me mid-sale and said the goods were amazing.
Square root: I went. But not before phoning my salesperson Gaby Klapper to ask if it were worth the trip. Love her, but she's in sales. (And effective, too; In September, Page Six Magazine cited her as one of the most powerful sales associates in New York.) "It's terrific, but come to the front," she suggested. The front? Turns out, the line was a block-long. Cutting it proved the first of two I'm-going-to-hell experiences of the weekend. (The second: I loved SNL's widely excoriated Governor Patterson schtick.)
The block-long line outside the sale
I walked into a full-house frenzy of fashion girls (and some boys), all very much my junior, who ferreted furiously through the piles of bags, which were heavy on bubble gum pink Sofias and frog-closure nylon pouches that bore the safe-fashion aura of duty-free. The determined shoppers squeezed-in and elbowed, grabbing goods in multiples as if they, or at least Mom and Dad, were blissfully untouched by all this silly economy talk. One young lady, apparently a tough sell, insisted to a pal in a bossy, Reese Witherspoon-in-Election manner, that if she couldn't find a bag to suit her, "I'm going to have to buy this" -- a full-price resort bag. I bumped into Robert Rich, Jacobs's vp of retail public relations, who said the sale was his idea, and that Robert Duffy had only reluctantly agreed. "We haven't done one of these in years," Rich offered. "I thought, it's the perfect time to do it in this recession. I wanted to make people happy."
Clearly, happiness is in the eye of the beholder.
The special sale merch not for me, I perused the good stuff. But send Gaby in search of sizes on fall's 70 percent-off in this mayhem -- and wait for her to resurface for it? No way. And while resort's full-price gold heart tote beckoned, I'm waging my own little personal protest against absurd deliveries.
Desperately seeking shoes
That left the shoes. Boxes in piles covered the section of the floor not given over to bags. Surely they had originally been stacked according to size or style. Now, however, the arrangement was more organic, requiring fortitude, athleticism and lots of squinting to divine style and size. Still, I persevered on behalf of my kind-hearted, big-footed sister-in-law. Many deep knee bends later (Jorge Posada, I feel your pain), I had scored two pairs of pretty suede sandals.
By then I'd had it. The whole ordeal proved too hot (no place to dump the coat), too cumbersome (nor the bags from the day's earlier shopping), and too exasperating (young lady, please, that was my foot) to even think of searching for footwear for myself, much less pulling off my boots to try a pair on.
While I knew I should have switched into reporter mode and started interviewing the multitudes about such recession-era buying madness, I opted instead to cut the checkout line as discreetly as possible to pay for the size 10s. Shaking my head solemnly, I told Gaby, "I'm just too old for this."
But I'm still too young for that flu shot.
Photographs by Jimi Celeste