Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 68

I walk up and down, utterly dazzled by the array. I just have to have some of these cards. Like this fantastic pop-up castle, with the flag reading “I love your remodeled home!” I mean, I don’t actually know anyone who’s remodeling their home, but I can always keep it until Mum decides to repaper the hall. And this one covered in fake grass, saying “To a smashing tennis coach with thanks.” Because I’m planning to have some tennis lessons next summer, and I’ll want to thank my coach, won’t I?

I scoop up a few more, and then move on to the invitation rack. And they’re even better! Instead of just saying “Party” they say things like “We’re Meeting at the Club for Brunch!” and “Come Join Us for an Informal Pizza!”

You know, I think I should buy some of those. It would be shortsighted not to. Suze and I might easily hold a pizza party, mightn’t we? And we’ll never find invitations like this in Britain. And they’re so sweet, with glittery little pizza slices all the way down the sides! I carefully put five boxes of invitations in my basket, along with all my lovely cards, and a few sheets of candy-striped wrapping paper, which I just can’t resist, then head to the checkout. As the assistant scans everything through, I look around the shop again, wondering if I’ve missed anything — and it’s only when she announces the total that I look up in slight shock. That much? Just for a few cards?

For a moment I wonder whether I really do need them all. Like the card saying “Happy Hanukkah, Boss!”

But then — they’re bound to come in useful one day, aren’t they? And if I’m going to live in New York, I’m going to have to get used to sending expensive cards all the time, so really, this is a form of acclimatization.

As I head toward the door, I’m dimly aware of a ringing, burbling sort of sound — and all of a sudden I realize it’s my own mobile phone.

“Hi!” I say, clutching it to my ear. “Who’s this?”

“Hi. It’s me,” says Luke. “I heard your lunch went well.”

“Really?” I say, feeling a jolt of surprise. “Where did you hear that?”

“I’ve just been speaking to some people at HLBC. Apparently you were quite a hit. Very entertaining, they said.”

“Wow! Really? Are you sure?”

“Quite sure. They were saying how charming you were, and how cultured… I even hear they put you in a taxi to the Guggenheim afterward.”

“That’s right,” I say, reaching to look at a paper knife. “They did.”

“Yes, I was quite intrigued to hear all about your burning childhood dream,” says Luke. “Kent was very impressed.”

“Really?” I say vaguely. “Well, that’s good.”

“Absolutely.” Luke pauses. “Slightly strange that you didn’t mention the Guggenheim this morning, though, isn’t it? Or indeed… ever. Bearing in mind you’ve been longing to go there since you were a child of six.”

Suddenly I hear the amusement in his voice, and snap to attention. He’s bloody well rung up to tease me, hasn’t he?

“Have I never mentioned the Guggenheim?” I say innocently, and put the paper knife back. “How very odd.”

“Isn’t it?” says Luke. “Most peculiar. So, are you there now?”


For a moment, I’m silenced. I simply can’t admit to Luke that I’ve gone shopping again. Not after all that teasing he gave me about my so-called guided tour. I mean OK, I know ten minutes out of a three-hour city tour isn’t that much — but I got as far as Saks, didn’t I?

“Yes,” I say defiantly. “Yes, I am, actually.”

Which is kind of almost true. I mean, I can easily go there after I’ve finished here.

“Great!” says Luke. “What particular exhibit are you looking at?”

Oh, shut up.

“What’s that?” I say, suddenly raising my voice. “Sorry, I didn’t realize! Luke, I have to turn my mobile off. The… um… curator is complaining. But I’ll see you later.”

“Six at the Royalton Bar,” he says. “You can meet my new associate, Michael. And I’ll look forward to hearing all about your afternoon.”

Now I feel a bit guilty. I shouldn’t have told Luke I was at the Guggenheim. I should have told the truth.

But it doesn’t matter… because what I’ll do is I’ll go there right now. Right this minute! After all, I can always come back to SoHo another day, can’t I?

I walk slowly along the crowded street, telling myself that what I’ll do is hail a cab and go straight up there. Without delay. Straight to the Guggenheim and immerse myself in some wonderful culture. Excellent. I can’t wait, actually.

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