Friday, Jul 12th

boot1Last year, I stalked and then purchased what I thought was the perfect pair of booties. They were black leather with a stacked wooden chunky heel and I believed they’d go with everything. Alas, after one or two outings in my new booties - which I will not name here explicitly but the brand rhymes with “Bag and Stone” - I realized that I couldn’t walk in them. I actually brought them back to Bergdorf’s, retuning worn merchandise. I never do that, but these booties made me upset. They failed to deliver on their promise, and so I had to radically break up with them in a public place.

I boldly rode the escalator to the fifth floor shoe department and declared, loud enough so people could hear me, “Listen, I wore these, several times. I’m not gonna lie. But I can’t stand them, so please please won’t you take them back?” I definitely got the hairy eyeball and the once over from the salesman, but he looked at the shoes, picked up the black store phone, and punched in some secret code. Next he mumbled something to someone on the other end of the line, but I held my head high. Before you could say bibbity bobbety boo, I had a gift-carded refund.

Logic would tell you that I used that money to buy a new pair of booties, but there is no logic when it comes to shopping. Plus, it was Black boot2Friday, and on Black Friday, you go for the deals on beautiful things that call out your name, not the things you may actually need. Also, there are no deals to be had on booties at the end of November because all the smart, fashion-forward-thinking women purchase the cutest booties in September. *

(*Except for the Extremists who buy them in August. Trust me: I know some of these ladies.)

So I bought a coat.

Now, here I am, a year later, stressing out (mildly, people, not like really) over booties. I want to get it right.

But what is “right” when it comes to short boots? Does anyone really know? And, can one pair of boots really do it all? I need a pair of boots that can look hip but classic, casual yet dressed up when I need them to be. They need to be able to go from the suburbs to the city, and to be able to handle long walks. Although I wouldn’t wear them in extreme conditions, they need to be tough enough to handle some weather. Like if it starts to rain as I’m walking to Grand Central, I can’t have my boots freaking out about it and getting all whiny.

boot3Oh, and I’d like them to have a little bit of a heel so that I can feel taller and slimmer when I wear them.

Isn’t that a lot of pressure to put on a single pair of boots?

Which is why I have now in my possession 6 different pairs of booties.

You are my 911. Please help! This is my bootie call.

Truth is, I’ve actually pretty much made up my mind, but which ones do you like? And, what kind of boots are you looking for this fall season? Short, tall, mid? Ones with hardware and studs, or straps? Lace-up, wedge? The choices are limitless. And, with so many reasonably-priced options copying the trends, and so many sale days to take advantage of, I can be sure to feel good in whatever I’ve bought. And so can you.boot4

(Hint: I’ve picked two.)

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Columnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in gerstenblattScarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. She recently published her first novel, Lauren Takes Leave.

 

 

JulieMadonna

My cell phone rang at 4:00 pm on Saturday, September 8 while my family and I were eating a weirdly-timed meal at Harry’s Burritos in Larchmont. From the caller ID, I knew that it was my good friend, Laura. “Hey,” I said, answering the phone. “What’s up?”

“I know this is last-minute, but I have two extra tickets tonight to the Madonna concert. Can you and Brett join me and Neil?”

My first thought was, Ohmigod, Madonna!

My second thought was, we don’t have a babysitter!

My third was, isn’t there a tornado warning in effect tonight?

“It starts at 8:00 but I heard she doesn’t go on until 10. We have seats down front, on the floor. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

I quickly parlayed the info to Brett.

“Where’s the concert?” he asked.

“Yankee Stadium, I think,” I said, confirming this with Laura. She said that the concert was indeed outdoors at Yankee Stadium, and that, should it be cancelled and rescheduled due to bad weather, we were no longer invited for the rain date. Her friend’s husband was sick tonight, but would most likely be better soon. “I’m just saying,” she said. “Tonight only.” She paused for dramatic effect. “And I need to know like now or I’m inviting someone else.”

“Give me thirty minutes,” I said, disconnecting and speed texting a babysitter.

While waiting for the babysitter to text back, we paid the bill at Harry’s and walked around town a bit, stopping for ice cream at Longford’s for a weirdly-timed dessert. I texted my friend Kate, who had attended the concert two nights earlier and had given me a brief - and decidedly lukewarm - report. Was the concert really bad, or just eh? The question I had for Kate was this: is it worth going through all the trouble of finding last-minute child care, washing my hair, putting on something stylish yet rain-proof, and staying up past midnight for this concert?

I needed to know how far I should go in the name of Madge.

In 1985, I was willing to do just about anything for Madonna, scalping tickets on the street for $50 each just to have a glimpse of her from the nosebleed section of her Virgin Tour. (Get it? It wasn’t just the name of her 1984 album; we were her first concert tour.) When invited at the last minute by two cute high school seniors (seniors!), my friend Jackie and I quickly readied ourselves, putting on our best fingerless lace gloves and moussing up our hair. We made sure our sweatshirts were cut across the neckline and that our eyeliner – fresh from the freezer – was thick and black. After making sure we each had thirty or so bracelets up our arms – both the black gummy variety and some rhinestone stunners -- we bounded out of my house and into Hottie Senior Number One’s car.

I was in the ninth grade.

The Beastie Boys opened for Madonna that night – I had no idea who they were, and thought they kinda sucked – and so Jackie and I spend most of that first 30 minutes shopping the vendors for the perfect t-shirt souvenir.

What happened next was pure magic. According to Wikipedia, that night, Madonna sang “Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove,” “Everybody,” “Angel,” “Borderline”, “Lucky Star” AND “Crazy for You.” She also sang “Burning Up” and, in her finale dressed as a bride, performed “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl.” It was a legendary concert – a greatest hits performance before we knew it - and I was there.

Flash-forward to the present. I couldn’t just put on my fingerless lace gloves and head to the city because Madonna was waiting for me. I had responsibilities. I had two children who had never heard of Madonna. I had stormy weather to worry about. I had a little indigestion from that burrito. And I had a bedtime of 10 pm.

4:27 pm. “Sorry, I can’t 2 nite,” came the text from my babysitter.

I thought of texting another babysitter, and then maybe another. I thought of reaching out to friends and hitting up their babysitters. Then I received a text from Kate, which read, “Honestly, it was just okay…she didn’t come on until 10:45…Nice to be out with your hubby regardless…lmk.”

I looked over at Brett, who was now finishing off Zoe’s ice cream. Is it really always that nice to be out with him on a Saturday night regardless of the reason? Isn’t it sometimes better to be in pajamas watching HGTV’s Canadian remodeling design show, Sarah’s House? And, what is Madonna thinking, starting her concert at 10:45? Both she and I have wrinkles now, for goodness sakes. (She hides hers, but they must be there, right?) Although, she can still rock a leather bodysuit, which is kind of annoying, and simultaneously awesome.

I texted Laura and told her my decision: we were skipping the concert. She’d have to invite someone else.

I used to love Madonna. But I am not in love with Madonna anymore. I still adore the vintage Madge, the one who sang songs that mattered to me. The one who didn’t call herself “Madge.” That Madonna shaped the way I dressed and gave me quasi-deep things to think about through her platform as a pop culture icon. Sex. Religion. Abortion. Fashion. Dance. Romance.

But for me, to quote Take a Bow, “the show is over, say goodbye.” I felt lame by not going that night, and, as I watched the rain fall, I also felt perfectly comfortable with my decision. I mean, it’s not like I’d never seen Madonna in concert. It’s more like, can anything ever really top your first (and perhaps, only) time with her?

I went home and put on my PJs and snuggled with my husband in front of the TV. Then I read an email from another friend who attended the Thursday concert.

“BTW - Madonna concert was great,” she wrote. “As theatrical, sexy, crazy as ever. And she looks fab! Her surgeon should be commended. Some small slow parts, but whatever – I’m a HUGE Madge fan so it’s all good for me.”

Did I feel a pang of regret when I read that email while sitting in my suburban living room? Perhaps a little bit.

But at least I had my once-in-a-lifetime with Madonna in 1985, which sometimes really feels like a lifetime ago. And, call me crazy, but that’s honestly good enough for me.

(Pictured at top: Me as Madonna from 1985 in 2010)

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. She recently published her first novel, Lauren Takes Leave.

 

 

MagazineRackAs with any epidemic, there’s a tipping point and a saturation point. And then there’s 50 shades of annoying. Yes, it’s true. There is now a theme-based magazine called “50 Shades of American Women Who Love the Book and Live the Life.” I saw it in Barnes and Noble, next to a magazine celebrating all things Hobbit.

And then, shamefully, I bought it.

“Don’t judge me,” I told the young man at the register. Behind him stood a bookcase filled with paperback copies of the 50 Shades trilogy.

He looked at the magazine and chuckled. “Are you kidding me? This stuff sells.”

Only after I paid did I realize his misunderstanding, taking me for a middle-aged woman in suburbia who turns all 50 shades of orgasmic any time someone mentions Charlie Tango. What I felt was not shame in my purchase for sexual reasons, but deep lameness in myself, an embarrassment akin to being caught singing along to Air Supply in my SUV while picking something green out of my teeth.

I’m all out of love/I’m so lost without you/got the green thing!/I know you were right, believing for so long….lalalalala….

As I walked through the parking lot, I rationalized my purchase, bigtime. Why did I pay 6 bucks for this stupid thing? It’s because I am a journalista. It is my duty to read this entire magazine and report about it on Scarsdale10583, just as I brought “Mommy Porn” to you in January, after reading the first 50 Shades novel.50ShadesofGrey

And, of course, I’m curious. I know a zillion American women are reading the novel, but who are all these American women that, according to publisher Topix Media Lab, are “living the life?” And, what exactly, does that mean? Are they driving around as passenger-of-choice in an Audi R8 Spyder, drinking Bollinger’s Grande Annee Rose for breakfast, or wearing Ben Wa balls to PTA charity luncheons?

Is it true that many mom-n-pop hardware stores are running low on rope?

These are the hard-hitting questions I was hoping this magazine would answer.

So I devoured it from cover to cover.

And now I can tell you to buy it, so that you, too, can release your inner goddess with 80 pages of jump-starting sex secrets! Also, follow the recipes for Christian-inspired cocktails and meet the Sex Whisperer, who used her body to “fix broken men like Christian Grey!”

This magazine is like Cosmo with fewer articles about sex.

As I read it, I felt concerned. Is there really a sexual revolution going on out there, due to the 50 Shades phenom? Because I’m just not feeling it.

My friends and I read the books and enjoyed them and experienced a momentary spike in our marital sex-lives (“for like a week,” as my friend Kate said, rolling her eyes) and then we got bored with that whole thing, bored with the commercialization of the franchise and/or with having more sex with our husbands, and so we moved back into more literary novels with less sex in them and also into having less actual sex. I know, it’s sacrilegious to admit that, so burn me at the stake. (But make the fire just enough so I can feel the flames touch my loins, Christian.)

A glossy page declared this an American Revolution, because, “for the first time in a long time, American women are confidently talking about sex.” But, are these women really talking about their intimate sex lives…or are they talking about 50 Shades of Grey? Because there is a big difference. I peered over the magazine and out my window to the street below, almost expecting to see women in tri-cornered hats, with epaulets on their lingerie, holding riding crops above their heads as they marched forward into the next battle in the red room of pain.

Okay, okay. As much as I joke about the impact of the books on our culture, I learned that Fun Factory, a German company, experienced a 350% increase in sales for their Smart Balls, which are similar to the beads used in the novels. That kind of economic growth, my friends, cannot be overlooked.

Here’s what else I learned from the 50 Shades magazine:

1. 93% of people surveyed said they wanted a spanking now.

2. I am embarrassed for America.

3. EL James is working on a fourth book in the series.

4. Bret Easton Ellis has tweeted about 50 Shades of Grey over 50 times, as he vies for the honor of writing the screenplay version of the books.

5. I am embarrassed for Bret Easton Ellis.

6. Women in a Mormon feminist book club read it and discussed it. That was actually interesting.

7. 82% of fireman interviewed (yes, you read that right, fireman) said that would have a drink with Christian Grey. I have no idea what that means.

8. I can have an ass like Anastasia’s if I do squats with 16-pound kettle bells.

9. A first edition of Tess of the D’Urbervilles costs $14,000.

10. E L James can now buy all of the remaining copies of that book without putting a dent in her bank account.

11. You can have “vanilla sex” by applying Kiehl’s vanilla-scented lip balm before kissing your mate. Only $9!

12. On a quiz entitled “Which Shade of Grey are You?” I scored a solid 40 points, putting me in the “Steel” category. This means I’ll occasionally flirt with the dark side but I would only tell my closest friends. Shhh.

13. Lastly, I learned that 73% of those same firemen said that reading 50 Shades of Grey had not “spiced up” their sex lives. Poor guys. You would think, with all that access to hoses and poles, they’d be on to something good.

As I closed the magazine, I pictured the future direction this 50 Shades fad might take. Like Harry Potter before, first comes the book, then the movie, then the merchandising, and, ultimately, the Universal Studios experience.

Forget 50 Shades: the Magazine. Bring on 50 Shades: the Ride.

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. She recently published her first novel, Lauren Takes Leave.

 

hohosWe got an email from a reader with a sweet tooth to tip us off to some sticky business at the bakery. She had recently stopped in to Enrico’s Bakery in Hartsdale, and much to her surprise found several shelves of goodies that looked exactly like her favorite treats from Lulu’s Bakery on Garth Road. She noticed twinkies, ring dings, snowballs, hohos and red velvet cupcakes that appeared to be re-creations of Lulu’s recipes.

She asked the woman behind the counter what was up and the woman looked askance. Determined to find out what had happened she drove over to Lulu’s and asked a few questions. Turns out that a baker who worked briefly at Lulu’s may have gone there undercover to learn Lulu’s signature recipes and "take the cake" back to Enrico’s.The baker who was employed at Lulu's for about two months is now back in the kitchen at Enrico's.

Intrigued, we decided to visit the two bakeries to see what we could learn – and sure enough,

lulushop
Lulu's Shop Photo
Enrico’s did have an entire case of goodies that looked like exact replicas of Lulu’s creations. We bought a few and went onto Lulu’s to do the same.

Below are photos of vanilla, lemon, chocolate and red velvet twinkies from both bakeries. Which taste better you may ask? Lulu’s claims to use higher quality ingredients, and in my opinion you can taste the difference. But go to the two bakeries, try them yourself and let us know which you prefer!

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Twinkies from Lulu's

 

 

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Twinkies from Enricos

 

(Pictured at top: Hohos at Enricos)

paddleboardI have written these words before, but I’ll write them again: I am not what you’d call athletic. I lack hand-eye coordination and any desire to move fast, except to avoid danger. This is pretty true in all seasons, including my favorite, summer. Beach volleyball? A jog on the packed sand? A swim, perhaps? My family asks, looking down at me in my lounge chair. I’ve got the umbrella set up, a baseball cap on, and have just located my reading sunglasses in my bottomless tote.

No thanks, I tell them, I’d prefer to sit on the beach and read 150 pages of a novel than dive through the ocean waves. You go have fun.

But then I would imagine my kids growing up and thinking back to summers of their youth, remembering me as the oceanfront ghost. “Mom came with us to the beach, right?” They would ask each other, gray haired, sitting by some fire and telling their own children and grandchildren about me. “I guess,” Zoe would shrug. “I think she used to hand me money for ice cream every once in awhile. But maybe that was dad.”

One reason I got off my butt this summer is to change the course of that future narrative. I needed to start building a more active legacy. Not just for my children to talk about when I’m long gone, but so that I would create experiences for myself now as well. Those tales written by authors that I read on the beach don’t quite count, even if they are compellingly real to me.

And so I decided to paddle board.

“I can’t believe you are doing this with me!” My friend Allie said. We were at the beach in Old Greenwich, where we had just rented two paddle boards for an hour. We received some vague instructions from one of the teachers there about how to paddle board (“Kneel on the board until you feel confident enough to stand up, at which point, you stand up. And then you paddle, and that’s pretty much it.”) and then we were almost ready to go.

Before zipping us into our life jackets, the guide hesitated. “I’ve got to tell you, by law, that you are not supposed to go swimming today, due to the environmental hazards of runoff.”

“Is that bad?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Allie said, sounding disappointed. We all let that sink in. Then she turned to the guy. “But, it’s not a problem if we don’t fall in, right?!”

“Right!” he said. He relaxed and we zipped up. “But,” he said, “it’s pretty rough out there right now. Strong headwinds. It will be hard to paddle, and it may be hard to stay on the boards.”

“We’ll stay on the boards!” We promised.

Only once I was out in the water did I realize that it was a promise I might not be able to keep. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to stand, with both feet tucked under me as they were. But Allie had paddle boarded once before. I watched her stand successfully, and then, because my knees were killing me, if not because of my bravery, I decided to do it as well. “I’m up! I’m up!” I called out, since she was now ahead and couldn’t see me.

“Yay!” we cheered into the strong headwinds and over the rough surf.

I was shaking like a leaf, but I was standing. Walking across the water. It was beautiful.

After about three minutes, the shaking in my legs ceased and I felt stronger. But I wasn’t really satisfied. My feet seemed too close together on the board, and I thought that with a stronger stance, I’d feel more confident, so I inched my front foot up a bit. And that’s when the world went sideways.

“I’m going to fall!” I shouted.

“No you’re not!” Allie called over her shoulder.

I imagined myself covered with pesticides and surrounded by sharks, my recently blown-dry hair a complete mess. I could not fall!

I was like a Weeble. I wobbled but I did not fall down.

Phew.

“I didn’t fall!” I told her, my movements a running commentary.

“Who knew you were so sporty?!” Allie asked, a few minutes later, as I came up beside her. Shows you how little faith my friends have in me, and/or how well they know me, depending on how you look at it.

“I’m not sporty, Al. But...I’m water sporty!”

I then proceeded to tell her about my summers spent at camp in Maine, the waterfront my only real joy. “I’m a Red Cross expert sailor.”

“No!”

“Yes! The sailing teacher took me and my friend Abby to Sebago Lake where we had to commandeer our own boats and capsize them and right them again.”

“Who knew?”

“And, I’m a diver. Inwards, back and front flips....” I trailed off, letting her be impressed. I decided not to tell her about the last time I did a backflip, at the Scarsdale pool with Brett and Andrew watching, about 8 years ago.

I emerged from the depths and looked at Brett, smiling in anticipation of his awe. “Yeah. You aren’t allowed to do those anymore,” he said.

And that was it. My career as a diver was over.

But now I had a new watersport. I had paddle boarding.

Which made me want to try kayaking.

Tune in next week to read all about it.

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. She recently published her first novel, Lauren Takes Leave.