Friday, November 20, 2009

Opening Day at Ralph's

The Laurentine Palace opened its doors a few minutes late this morning, after an impromptu ribbon-cutting ceremony that held the small crowd of half a dozen people waiting at the front door past the promised 10:00 AM opening time. Having been waiting at the front of the line since the night before (well, actually since about 9:54 AM), your scribe was the first customer to enter the store. Right behind him was a man with a mission: his wife had sent him to buy a gorgeous full-length green velvet dress in the first room to the right of the entrance.

Your scribe wandered around, upstairs and downstairs and in the various chambers devoted to milady and milord. The Indian Cove Lodge rooms were perhaps the most noteworthy: rich and red and masculine and comfortable and suitably decorated for the Christmas season. The unopened bottles of Maker's Mark bourbon and 12-year-old whisky on the coffee table seemed to invite one to sit down and enjoy a preprandial drink.

Back downstairs, the man with a mission was on the phone with an obviously upset wife. The dress he had told the salesgirl he wanted to buy had been "pre-sold" by a staff member to a friend. Your scribe was outraged. "This man asked to buy this dress less than ten seconds after the doors opened. You have an obligation to sell it to him."

The salesgirl cringed. Upper management wrung its hands. They offered to tailor a similar dress in a larger size to fit his wife. But she wanted that dress, and that dress only. Matters were at an impasse.

Your scribe walked out, and went down to the Post Office. As he came back a few minutes later, the salesgirl rushed up to him to let him know the man had been allowed to buy the dress. The person to whom the dress had been "pre-sold" had relinquished her claim. "Thank you for standing up for your friend," she said. "It helped to settle the matter the right way."

Well, your scribe had never set eyes on the man before, but he was mindful of the old Latin adage: Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas. So he took her words to mean that he had successfully stood up for his greater friend, the truth. All's well that ends well, he told her.

Meanwhile, the poor female mannekin was nude except for a leather jacket that had formerly been draped over her and the dress. It made for a startling image, and gave a whole different flavor to the Ralph Lauren brand. At the salesgirl's suggestion, he joined his "friend" in the men's department while they re-dressed the mannequin in a different gown.

Said friend turned out to be a New York City fireman, young and tall and Irish and handsome. His wife, it appeared, is a stunning redhead who is a perfect size four - the dress she and her husband had held out for. She will be the cynosure of every eye at every party to which she wears that dress.

Before long, your scribe and his new friend Tommy were offered cut crystal tumblers with a generous measure of 12-year-old scotch. It was a little early in the morning, but clearly this was management's way of apologizing for the snafu. It would have been ungracious to refuse.

As he left the store half an hour or so later, a diminutive dark-haired young lady accosted your scribe, saying she was a reporter for the Not-So-Local Rag, aka Yellowwich Time. "I'm so sorry for you," he replied; "What a terrible fate." The look of stunned surprise on her face was priceless. But eventually, no doubt, she will come to realize the truth of his words.

And so, dear reader, endeth this tale of opening day at the new Ralph Lauren store. It turns out, by the way, that the Renaissance palace was designed by the local firm of Halper, Owen, which was nice to hear. Your scribe is a great believer in supporting locally-owned enterprises.

And should you come by the new store tomorrow or on Sunday, rumor has it that champagne and hors d'oeuvres will be on offer. Perchance your scribe will find an opportunity to pay a return visit - after, of course, he attends the opening of the new Apple Computer store down the street. All of a sudden, Greenwich Avenue seems to be starting to come back to life, just in time for the holidays.


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