Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chanel is dead

January 11, 1971

Gabrielle Chanel is dead.
I don’t know why this matter since Louise and I have other things to worry about, but it seems ironic – we living on the Lower East Side struggling to keep our heads above water in our new, more expensive apartment on East Sixth Street, as the world mourns the woman who has become synonymous with class.
Even the manager of Ratner’s seemed upset when we stopped there for a meal, and then later got so sick from food poisoning that we thought we would die as well.
My Jewish boss uptown refused to believe I got sick from food I ate as one of the more famous Jewish eateries in the city – the East Village restaurant, not the one near Chinatown.
But we did get sick and since the only food we had that night we bought there, one and one equal two, and we struggled during our walk to even keep our balance, Louise and I leaning on each other as we walked from the East Village to Washington Square, stopping at a drug store on Eighth Street for antacid.
We split the roll in half, and devoured each lozenge as if we were junkies.
By the time we reached Broadway again, a block from the Astor Place cube, we were bent over, drawing dark stares from bored cops, particularly because Louise was very obviously pregnant.
We should have gone to the hospital, and would have, had we enough for the taxi fare. (No way we were going to go on a subway in our condition).
But the time we got back to our apartment, the antacid had started to work. But we must have looked incredibly bad. George, who was just getting ready for his walk up to the Fillmore, stopped and asked what was wrong.
We told him, he shook his head, saying he never eats in that place.
We vowed never to do so again either, although as my boss insists, it couldn’t have been that place that made us sick.
My boss refuses to believe rich people ever do anything wrong, Jewish or not.
But by this morning, the pain and the trauma was over. Louise said she felt fine, as I made my way out to catch the subway to 96th Street and work.
But I’m writing this instead of eating lunch. I still don’t trust my stomach, even when the food comes from a corner deli I’ve eaten in since my getting this job just after Christmas.
Better not to take chances.

As for Chanel, my boss, was as upset as if his own mother had died, and greeted each of his rich customers as if holding his own private wake, saying how sorry he was for her passing, and how much she will be missed. I’m sure he never met her, but I’m also sure he wishes he had.

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