Lucinda Rosenfeld

       Feeling underslept and overextended, I cancel my lunch date with M., an editor at Harper’s Bazaar, and go back to sleep. I wake up after 1 p.m. I sit at my desk eating oat-bran cereal and staring out the window at my neighbor’s sheets and towels flapping in the wind. I glance at the papers. I shower. I don’t have anything to wear. I hate my clothes. I resolve to shop this weekend.
       There is a man on the subway platform wearing a shirt that says, “I don’t date girls who use four-letter words … Don’t. Quit. Stop.”
       After work, my friend A. and I meet in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which is exactly halfway between our offices. It is a beautiful hotel, though with its floral-pattern carpets, stuffed chairs, fresco ceilings, marble façades, and cocktail-hour pianist banging away on the mezzanine level, it cuts a slightly campy figure. So grand. So presidential. One half-expects the Reagans to step out from behind a potted fern. There is clearly some kind of black-tie function taking place. Middle-aged women with gold clutches and décolleté walk by with an air of purpose. A. and I briefly consider crashing, then realize we’re dressed too shabbily.
       On the F train home, I sit next to an Indian gentleman reading a printout titled “Reasons Why Delaware Is the Choice of Corporate America.” I realize there may not be time in my life to learn such things.
       I have barely removed my dinner from its brown bag when the phone rings. It’s my editor, S., calling to inform me that Keith McNally, the owner of Balthazar, the hot spot I reviewed in my column this morning, is livid. McNally says Balthazar is nothing like the famous Parisian brasserie La Coupole, to which I compared it. McNally would like to talk to me. I take his number. I doubt I’ll call.
       Waiting for my shower water to warm up, I check in with my complexion. I started breaking out at 23, as opposed to 13, the age you’re supposed to break out. As I grow older, the pimple problem grows worse. I hate myself for caring. Just as I hate myself for saying “thank you” to the wasted 1970s night-life degenerate who, standing two inches from my nose and slurring his words only slightly, declared me a “beeeaauuuttiiffuull wooomaaan” at the 21 Club Monday night. “She is beautiful,” concurred the gossip columnist to his left, before smearing his hand down the side of my face. I remember thinking these were not my friends. And that, while it was true that I had failed to get into graduate school, it was still hard to accept the idea that at that moment, in that room, with these people, I was in possession of the life I deserved.