Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Social Notes: Saturday Afternoon on Park Avenue

Morgan Library - 07, 2009

My daughter was invited to a baby shower for a college friend. The party was held this past Saturday afternoon at the Upper East Side Manhattan penthouse of the expectant mother’s in-laws. In anticipation of a swank occasion, my daughter joked that this might be like going to a baby shower at Charlotte’s place in Sex in the City.

Turns out she wasn’t far off. When she presented herself to the building doorman, he politely took her gift bag and explained, “All packages go up the service elevator.” A buzzer was pushed and an African American porter stepped out of an alcove and took the package to the service elevator. By the time my daughter stepped out of the passenger elevator into the penthouse, her package was already there.

The apartment is formal and exquisitely furnished, much as you might expect for a pre-war building on Park Avenue. The family’s Scottish and there was a coat of arms on the wall and lots of plaid in the library. My daughter described the place as being “full of things you wouldn’t risk touching for fear of breaking them.” There is a broad terrace overlooking Park Avenue and, a few blocks away, Central Park. She sat in the formal living room between two elderly society ladies named Bunny and Kitty.

A good three-quarters of the baby gifts were cashmere baby outfits from Bergdorf Goodman. My daughter didn't fail to notice that 1) she was probably the only person attending who’d actually bought something the expectant parents had asked for, 2) her gift, a cute little “onesie” outfit from Babies ‘R’ Us was the only gift that didn’t get passed around and 3) it was the only gift that doesn’t require dry cleaning. (Ever practical, we Bonneys.)

Because the living room furniture had been pushed back so that all the guests could sit in a circle, there wasn’t anywhere for my daughter to to put her drink down when the gifts were being passed around. Not wanting to risk spilling anything on one of the little cashmere outfits, my daughter reached around behind her chair and put her glass down on the floor. A maid appeared “out of nowhere” and quietly told her that drinks weren’t to be put on the floor. When my daughter countered that there wasn’t anywhere else to put a drink, the maid said, “Don’t worry, honey. I’ll just stand over here and hold it for you.” Which she did, my daughter reports, for about forty-five minutes.

My daughter said she was much relieved when she got back on the subway to Brooklyn. Her afternoon among the swells was tiring.


  1. I thought this was a true story until you got to the part about the two elderly women's names. Bunny and Kitty? Come on! You HAVE to be making that up.

    Being fancy makes me tired too.

  2. Hahaaaa! That's a riot.

    I have to admit--Bunny and Kitty are pretty over the top. But they're Scots?-- with those names?? I'd expect "Fiona" or "Moira." The Scots also do tend to be frugal folk, and usually, pretty practical, too. I know--I grew up with them--but they do like their "niceties." I could well picture this.

  3. You Bonneys do get around...whew...leave me out.
    Great story, but it sends cold chills up my spine. Sub title, "Maid as coaster," or "Up the lift with the gift." Get my drift?