Our little Village is gussied up for the holidays in fresh greens and crimson bows. In the retail world of sugar, Christmas Eve and Hanukkah will be vying for attention on the very same Saturday. This only adds to the holiday cookie frenzy and a need to brush up on my dreidel inscription skills.
You would think that following last week’s pie anxiety, pate brisée would be so November. Although fewer in number, pies continue rolling along, feeling more wintry, less autumnal. For a change of pace, I have dusted off the 9” tart shells with removable bottoms. Like stray socks, there are more tart rings than bottoms, a predictable baker’s dilemma. Undaunted, I will quietly borrow a few 9” pan bottoms from the coffee cake pans hoping the early morning crew doesn’t notice. Sorry ladies, I have a train to catch.
It’s been several weeks since boarding NJ Transit. It is just as I remember it, although my car is filled with holiday revelers, most of them in the throes of a seasonal malaise. I bury myself deeper within my oversized houndstooth wool scarf, press myself closer to the finger smudged window. My hankering for something sweet is placated with a sad miniature Hershey bar wedged inside my coat pocket. There’s a second one that I decide to save for intermission.
Arriving at New York Penn Station, I follow the crowd past Tiecoon, Krispy Kreme and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Choosing stairs over escalator, I work my way east and then north. Fifth Avenue and 50th street are predictably jam-packed with tree seekers. Rockefeller Center is ablaze in holiday lights, dizzy with selfie-sticks. The Norway spruce rises skyward, dwarfing skaters on the ice rink below.
At half past six o’clock, I am standing in the ladies lounge of the Longacre Theatre, nonchalantly removing wisps of royal icing that have attached to my curls. The woman to my right wears more cleavage than fabric. She re-applies her Chanel lipstick, adjusts the corners of her pouty mouth with a manicured hand then in a whoosh of too much perfume, she is gone. I am struggling with one stubborn fragment of icing that in the fluorescent lighting looks green. It’s not the lighting; it is green.
Foraging through my purse for a well-worn tube of Chapstick, I look up from the depths of my handbag and glance in the mirror to my left. A small woman with large hair is reaching for a paper towel. The woman is Erica Kane, I mean Susan Lucci. She looks fabulous, not a hair out of place. She looks at me, smiles, realizes she doesn’t know me and turns. It isn’t a hostile turn, simply a “that poor girl has green icing in her hair and I don’t want to be the one to tell her” turn. Erica/Susan leaves in a cloud of just enough fragrance. Gathering up my hooded winter parka, I work my way up the stairs, find my seat and oh so quietly, unwrap my sad little Hershey bar. Turning off my phone, I glance across the aisle and several rows down where Susan Lucci is taking her seat. I wonder if the person seated behind her can see around her hair-do. It occurs to me, who am I to judge? I’m sitting here with green royal icing in my hair.