Thursday, July 27, 2006

Newbie Goes Upscale

I'll admit it's completely dorky of me that I am so excited for my night out tomorrow evening. My friend D is coming into town, and we're going to go out to dinner. (I feel like such a socialite this week, with people in town to see me, plans being made, etc. My boss told me I was like Doris Day in one of her movies, and I completely loved that reference.) But not just any dinner.

In college, my friend D and I loved to pretend we were more stylish than everyone else. That probably rang true for him, but for this college girl, who purchased most of her clothing from Target, T.J. Maxx, and the Gap sale rack (hell, I still do), I think I was reaching. But go with me on this one. D and I liked to fantasize about hosting a show entitled "Not So Much" on a local cable access channel. We decided that we would show footage of fashion-victim sorostitutes or hopelessly trendy hipsters, mock them, and then say our trademark phrase in unison -- you guessed it -- "Not so much!" It was a recipe for success. Unfortunately, we never did anything about it, and a few years later TLC's Stacy London (God, I love that woman) and Clinton Kelly totally stole our idea. I think we deserve some royalties.

Anyway. So, I moved to New York, and D moved elsewhere in the country, and I kept telling him, "Come to the city, and we'll have a stylish night out. Something old-school and decadent and lovely." So tomorrow he is taking me to a place called Babbo, a Mario Batali restaurant that's supposed to be outstanding. I have never been to an eatery that expensive or chic, and I'm excited and giggly like a little schoolgirl about the fact that I'm going to get to go. It'll be expensive, but I think it will be worth it.

I'm afraid, though.

I'm always afraid that when I go somewhere nice, people will look at me and know my kitten heels are from Payless and my dress was $20 at a street fair. When I go into boutiques in New York, the salesgirls always me the once-over, Pretty Woman-style. I hate walking into Saks, even just to grab a couple tubes of the lip balm I like, because I never feel well-dressed enough to be inside. And don't even get me started on upscale bars.

I think it's the lower-middle-class Midwesterner in me. The little girl whose school clothes were from K-Mart and who never had high-top Reeboks like the other girls. The elementary school student whose mother washed plastic lunch baggies so we could re-use them. The junior high school student who was made fun by the rich girls because she didn't have Guess jeans. It was hardest back then. The insults were the worst. But I'm fiercely proud of everything my family sacrificed and my upbringing and that little voice inside my head that balks if the price tag on a single piece of clothing reads more than $50. (Needless to say, I'm not a big fashionista.)

But I'm not going to think about that. I am going to a great New York City restaurant, I am going to enjoy the company and the atmosphere, and I am going to savor every bite.


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