City Pulse

By Raine Marlowe Graves

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I love New York. But I also have an equally passionate love for London. Call me a two-timer, but there is so much to do in both cities – who could ever be jealous!? But whichever place I am enjoying, I am faithful while I’m there. So – I love New York.

Having spent a lot of time across the pond lately, one thing sticks out. Yes, in both towns you can shop, eat, drink, dance, spa – etc., but there is one glaring difference in the way it’s done. The British are well-mannered. Extremely well mannered. Of course, not all of them, but as an overall cultural observation, much more emphasis is based on the protocol of propriety than here.

Manners are a sticking point with me. Of the things I despise most in life (sunscreen, caraway seeds and rudeness), the lack of common niceties really irks me the most. We at BeautyNews have decided to start a regular feature on how we can recognize when our behavior is not quite up to standard and, most importantly, how to improve it.

Viva le sophistication transformation!

Shopping:

Sample sale, closeout, clearance. Those words can start us salivating. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we process the stimuli and feel the hunger. We must have that bargain. This is when our so-called reptile brain takes over. Only one thought can be processed, we bare our teeth, sharpen our claws and god help those who get in our way!

Anyone who has ever beheld the wonder of designer bargain treasure hunts such as Billion Dollar Babes, Lucky Shops or even our permanent temple of cut-rate couture Century 21 (with Daffy’s running a close 2nd) has known the fear and excitement of the hunt. What we tend not to consider is that we’re acting like animals. All rules of respectable behavior are tossed out the window along with the full price tags on the merch. I’ve seen instances that wouldn’t look out of place on an HBO jailhouse drama – seriously sometimes its not worth getting between a girl and her discount Dolce.

What to do? Make friends with the salespeople or personal shoppers at your favorite designers who will inform you of upcoming sales; waiting lists are an option – they may save you cents as well as your sanity. Another thought is take a page from the French girls fashion playbook and only buy quality pieces that you absolutely need and will use. Avoiding the stress of acquiring a bargain you won’t even use is not only not a bargain, but could save you beaucoup dollars!

Billion Dollar Babes: www.billiondollarbabes.com (next event 8/26)

Lucky Shops: www.luckyshops.com

Century 21: The flagship – 22 Cortlandt Street – 212.227.9092

Daffy’s: Midtown – 1311 Broadway/34th – 212.736.4477

Travel:

The infamous NYC cab. It goes fast and furious and is never around when you need one. So of course, we use our wiles to get one when we see it, everything from inching in front of others to outright lies (my cat is in hospital for an emergency brain surgery – you don’t mind do you?) to just plain brute force (I’ve actually been physically pushed out of the way during a particularly nasty precipitation). Our alternatives?

Try a car service. While sometimes these trips will be more costly than a plain yellow taxi ride, you get the convenience, prestige and comfort of your own car. Be charitable and allow your frazzled compatriots to fight among themselves while you arrive fresh and carefree! That’s two down!

Two to try:

Regal Carriage Luxury Car & Limo – 212.244.2424

Madison Avenue Limousine – 212.674.0060

Socializing:

This is a wide and sticky area. I won’t even get into the basics of greeting and eating (we’ll cover that next time), but let’s talk generally about being out and about at night. Most clubs and bars are crowded, smoky and loud. By virtue of that we are pushy, highly perfumed and loud. It just makes matters worse. What to do?

You could always visit more genteel nightspots. A few more “sophisticated” joints are Flute – Gramercy at 40 East 20th street ( 212.529.7870) and my long standing favorite, Madame X at 94 West Houston (212.539.0808).

For those of you who don’t feel you’ve gone out unless you return home with a sore throat and ringing eardrums, try rockin’ a more mysterious vibe. You can claim your turf at a back table where all will wonder what you’re about. You won’t need to push anyone off your barstool, and if you work the “Star” vibe, you can work your way into the VIP rooms – which sometimes have their own bathrooms. Voila! No waiting (or pushing, cutting) in line when you really, really must go. You can whisper to your guests and hold your own court.

Try the VIP rooms at Aer, 409 West 13th (212.989.0100) and Star Lounge, 222 West 23rd (212.255.4646)

Progress:

We’ve started this journey by deliberately not criticizing your current behavior but pointing out to you how much nicer life would be if some “rudeness” and “bad behavior” was eliminated from your life. Don’t worry, next time we’ll tear apart your gauche self and rebuild you in the manner of the posh and genteel. Soon you’ll be shocked at how differently you’re perceived and be spoilt for attention. Look out for the next installment where we will show you how you can plan your own “My Fair Lady” transformation! The rain in Spain….

Originally published July 2007
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