I wore my jacket for so many years the buttons started to blow. There was only one thing for it: pay a visit to Tender Buttons, just around the corner from Bloomingdale’s on New York’s Upper East Side.
I collect buttons myself, the kind you happen upon at tag sales. None suited my jacket. Tender Buttons, named after an obscure volume by Gertrude Stein, stocks fancy buttons – something of an oxymoron, wouldn’t you say?
You may browse as long as you like.
Until you are bewitched, bothered and bewildered.
There are too many choices. You may be tempted to take some of the children’s beauties home even if you don’t have a child.
Bone, horn, leather, plastic, wood. Maud and I tried to take it all in. What is the fanciest button you sell? I asked. That would be the Swarovski crystal, said the sales clerk a little primly.
I loved the scrimshaw, carved scenes on aged walrus tusk. Price point out of range for me however. And who wouldn’t like the limited-edition artist-painted scenes from Alice in Wonderland, one to a button. You’d be telling a fantastic story as you walked down the street.
I settled on the finest buttons in the store, fortunately less fancy than some but French, crafted of glass.
We had fortified ourselves for this venture, Maud and I, with a stop at Serendipity 3 just down the street, which was serving up frozen hot chocolate in giant goblets. Worthy of many photos.
We shared the over-the-top, whipped cream crowned confection over laughs and confidences.
Then stole away for a treat, lipstick from the people who know how to make lipstick, carefully chosen with our particular lips in mind by a greenly eye-shadowed Bloomingdale’s salesperson.
A woman needs a French lipstick in her arsenal. Maud’s made her look more mature, mine made me look less mature. Perfect.
Dinner was a celebration at a pop up steak restaurant that had been relocated while its premises were renovated.
To a laundromat downstairs.
Gil has a new project, a collaboration. So we toasted him with hot crunchy egg rolls stuffed with pastrami from Katz’s. Chicken-fried chicken stuffed with shrimp. Baby shitake mushrooms, nude and slathered in a slick garlic cream sauce. And a blazing red shellfish casserole roasted in a banana leaf tureen.
I don’t eat crawfish.
So there was plenty for Gil and Maud
And perfect steak, of course, all served around a farm table with dish towel napkins that were quite well used by the end of the meal. If the place reverts to a laundry they’ll have their hands full.
We had cooked up a plan to go try “spaghetti ice cream” at a place down the street – ice cream forced through a culinary fun factory, with ice cream meatballs.
Later, sunk on the couch at home with my leg up, I watched Renoir’s Rules of the Game, the story of rich Parisian twits and their foibles in a country house one fateful fall weekend, putting on amateur theatricals, falling in and out of love, shooting rabbits as well as each other.
Elegant buttons, luscious ice creams, lobster, premium lipstick… these are all things Christine, the protagonist, would be well acquainted with as often as she pleased. Run of the mill, ho hum. For us, a one-day treat was extravagant… and enough.