Happy Hundredth, Marlene!Today is Marlene Dietrich's 100th birthday! It's also my next-door-neighbor Marion's birthday (I think she's ninety-something), and my friend John's birthday. Oh, yeah, it's my birthday too!
Every year in my adult life, I have gone shopping in San Francisco on my birthday. It got started back when my Daddy used to always give me Emporium Capwell gift certificates for Christmas/B-day (remember Emporium?...that's going back a long way), so I would go to San Francisco and shop at the big Emporium on Market at Powell, buy something cute for myself, and treat myself and a friend to a nice lunch somewhere while I was about it. Later on, when I didn't have any money to speak of, I would still go to Union Square (usually with my best friend Fred), and do some extensive window shopping, winding up with Happy Hour martinis at the Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel.
Well, now that I have a little money and a bit of a shopping addiction, my Birthday Shopathon has taken on a new meaning. It's not my only big shopping expedition of the year, but it's the only one I really plan out. And it's the day I like to make major (or at least special) purchases. Last year I went to the Jessica McClintock outlet first and bought a bunch of dresses (like this one), then went to Burlington Coat Factory and got a really beautiful Nautica microfiber trench-coat (I had always wanted a good trenchcoat and could never really afford one before) as well as a few other odds and ends, then went along to the City Tow to rescue my car (I had parked on a street that turns into a no-parking zone at four p.m., and I got to the street at four-ten, just in time to see my car disappear around the corner...though the City Tow was only two blocks away, it took three hours and about two hundred dollars to get it back). Though I had planned to lunch at my favorite Italian red-and-black cafe in Union Square and absorb a bit of Macy*s, I had to just go on home.
Well, this year was surprisingly similar. I started again at Jessica McClintock, and bought a whole lotta dresses. Really fabulous dresses, too: a gold lamé crossover-bodice gown, a chocolate/mauve taffeta dinner gown with a lapeled bodice and huge circle skirt, a rose/beige irridescent taffeta pleated evening gown with matching scarf, and a deep purple strapless princess-satin sheath with purple rhinestone trim; I also managed to grab a couple of dresses for my little sister, Miss Daisy; not to mention a couple of corset-bodices that make really cute belts and a bag full of 'notions,' bits of jewelry that can be sewn onto dresses or made into earrings and necklaces.
Once thoroughly sated there, I got into the car and headed back to San Francisco proper, and was immediately ensnarled in traffic. I parked myself in my favorite garage on Fourth and Mission, and walked the block and a half to Burlington. I rummaged around for quite a while in the women's departments and only found a couple of dresses, both black, one short velvet cowl-necked thing and a longer chiffon-over-satin evening dress. Then downstairs to shop for a suit! Though I wanted to get the suit while the Grandmother was with me, I figured I'd better strike while the iron was hot (and I had her credit card with me in case I did find the suit I wanted). Well, I found the suit I was looking for (black striped jaquard worsted, three buttons, gorgeous!), and another one that I hadn't even thought to want beforehand but absolutely had to have once I tried it on (taupish-charcoal herringbone worsted/cashmere blend, four buttons, from Italy), both at utterly criminal prices. One downer, though: apparently I have grown a bit since the last time I bought a suit (just this last Summer)...my waist was all the way up to a 36—and even more embarrassing, the tailor had to let out the seat! I wanted to crawl into a hole and die! I guess it's time to start exercising and dieting again. Of course, maybe I shouldn't, since I (or, rather, Grandmother) just paid $375 for the two suits and alterations that fit me as I am. Hmmmm...something to think about, there.
Well, after all that, I wasn't really up to any more shopping, so I got back in the car to head home...but I couldn't even get out of the garage! It was of course just around six o'clock; five movies had just let out of the Metreon across the street, all the offices and shopping venues were emptying out, it was raining and traffic was a nightmare! After sitting in line in the car for twenty minutes without moving more than fifteen feet from my original parking space, I gave up and parked Miss Marjorie (and her new tires) right back in the same slot and went to wait somewhere more fun. I went to San Francisco Centre and wandered around Nordstrom's and all the little shops in the mall, where I found nothing I could afford; then down to the Virgin Megastore, where I found nothing I even remotely wanted; then over to Macy*s, where I found nothing that was worth standing in line to buy. I guess the shopping mood had left me. But I managed to kill a couple of hours, and when I got back to the garage, there was nobody else there and I sailed right out onto Fifth, thence to the depopulated Bay Bridge, and home again home again jiggety-jig in less than fifteen minutes.
And so here I sit, surrounded by my spoils (except for the suits...they won't be ready 'til Saturday) and massaging my poor aching feet, telling you all about it. It was a birthday to remember! And very very happy.