The woman trying on the red Charles Jourdan shoes in Bloomingdale's has a familiar face; not famous, but familiar. Perhaps you have seen it in Town and Country or the society pages of the newspaper. Stylishly dressed and exquisitely groomed, her whole appearance announces a lifetime of vacations in Barbados, live-in help and parties on Embassy Row.
Her charm is overwhelming. She chats conspiratorially with the salesgirl and smiles invitingly at anyone who happens to glance her way. Indeed, it is hard to avoid her eyes, she is so promiscuously friendly, constantly seeking to lock someone into eye contact with her.
Her beautiful face is a tinted mask of the finest porcelain, but the tentative, nervous eyes and a certain pinched line of disappointment about the mouth suggest that the porcelain has been cracked and mended too many times, the glue now holding it together being the finest cosmetics from France -- Dior, probably.
Her need for attention flashes out hungrily as she stands and does a little turn for the salesgirl, explaining that the shoes will be attending many parties and dances and therefore must be comfortable. For a second, pirouetting in her red shoes, the elegant woman looks just like Dorothy, lost in the land of Oz, forever loking for the yellow brick road that will lead her to the wizard.
The shoes having passed the test, the woman tells the salesgirl she will take them. Tenderly almost, the charmed salesgirl removes the shoes from the feet so eager to dance and gently places them back into their bed of soft blue tissue paper, carrying them off to be wrapped.
Left alone, a look of neglect passes across the dancing woman's face like a cloud and from the shadows of her momentary solitude, the ghost of the younger, truer person she had once been peers out for a second, flickers and vanishes behind a sunny smile as the salesgirl returns.
Bidding her a perfect and gracious farewell, the woman leaves the salesgirl to her daydreams of wealth and the good life.
She walks toward the elevator but suddenly stops, seems to remember something important. But no, whatever it is she is trying to remember, she has forgotten it. The woman walks on, past the elevator, heading straight for Better Dresses, the package containing her shoes swinging gracefully beside her, her red badge of courage.
Often on Sunday mornings you noticed the two of them having a late and leisurely breakfast together at the drugstore. A fashionable spot, this drugstore, catering to immaculately attired weekend joggers and tennis players just in from the tracks and courts so familiar to their upper-middle-class lifestyle.
Yet even among such a heady group, the handsome young father (in a sleek silver racing jacket emblazoned with the legent "Maserati") and his young, attractive son (outfitted in impeccably correct red and white Adidas sportswear from head to foot) caught your attention and held it.
The verdict of success was written all over them.
They seemed to know everyone and new arrivals for Sunday breakfast quickly pulled up chairs in order to bask in the aura of pleasant conviviality that surrounded the father and his son. Occasionally, if you had the good fortune to be at a table within earshot of the group, lovely words such as "sailing," "Porsche" and "Switzerland" floated toward you. And then one morning,this:
"Where," asked one of the men, speaking to the 8-year-old Adidas boy, "would you most like to go in the whole world?"
The answer came quickly. "To F. A. O. Schwarz in New York," said Adidas.
"Why there?" prodded the adjult jock.
Hesitation. "Because," said the boy slowly and evenly, "it's the only place in the world where I don't feel lonely."