Friday, December 29, 2006

Simple Pleasures

I take tremendous pleasure in not spending large amounts of money. The other night, I was out to dinner with a crew of girlfriends who all carry Marc Jacobs bags and wear Manolo Blahnik shoes. Given the fact that I had never heard of Manolo Blahnik, nor could I even have guessed the price of the heavy leather handbags with their large buckles and straps at my feet, I had very little to add to the conversation. I sat and slowly chewed my $15 dollar salad and absorbed what social and cultural knowledge I could from the experience.

Apparently, Mr. Blahnik's shoes have a way of suddenly snapping in the middle of the heel. Given the fact that I have never had a heel snap in my life, what amazed me about this is that a woman can't begin to have a heel-snapping experience for less than $500. Fascinating! Of course, as a result of these unfortunate mechanical issues, every Manolo-loving woman in Manhattan has her own neighborhood "shoe guy" (within limping distance, I have no doubt). One of my friends revealed that her shoe guy specializes in "The Blahnick Snap". He charges only $30.00 (cash) to glue the stem of a shoe back together without exposing the tear in the fabric. Good as new. After the magical fix, my friend says that she typically then sells her Manolo's on Ebay. She'll wear them about 5 times, and then put them up for auction. Interestingly enough, she claims to often fetch twice as much for what she originally paid (broken heel or not--"no one needs to know!"). According to her, the rest of America does not have access to the New York boutiques like we do here. Therefore, she can get away with charging twice as much for used Manolos. I suppose there is no faulting her for this. She has set herself up on a continuous chemical drip of free or close-to-free Manolos...

Again, fascinating.

Of course, I know nothing of this world. I wouldn't know the difference between Manolo and Mossimo, and I'm more than happy to keep it this way. My friends all say that what they love about buying high-end, luxury items is the thrill they get at the moment of purchase. One said that she loves walking out of the store with her bag. It makes her feel powerful. Another said that it makes her feel very sexy, and she likes getting compliments on her shoes or her bag from other women in restaurants. Who am I to deny that there's something fetching about the experience?

To this end, I feel compelled to reveal that on the sliding scale of heart-racing, fetching consumer experiences, I had my own yesterday. In the heart of Greenwich Village, I stumbled upon a gem on MacDougal Street. Rounding the corner from Bleeker, I was casually doing some late holiday shopping, when I felt my body temperature rise at the first whiff of Middle Eastern cuisine. Of course, this wasn't just any smell, this was the smell of Jerusalem, the smell of freshly-ground chick peas, garlic and sesame seed paste rolled into small balls and flash-fried so that they are slightly crispy on the outside yet still moist and delicious in the middle. I smelled schwarma, too, and hummus and tahina and...oh! love!. I instinctively followed my nose (and racing heart) to a place called Mamoun's Falafel.


It's important to add that Middle Eastern cuisine is not a rarity in New York. But, frankly, good Middle Eastern cuisine done right is difficult to find. I have been known to walk into a restaurant, smell the place, and walk right out. I don't care how hungry I am, I will throw things if the falafel is dry.



Once inside Mamoun's, I suddenly felt like I had entered a place where I was home again. There were three plastic tables, a cooking area, and a menu overhead. Just like in Jerusalem, the food was fresh and fast. And to my sheer, orgasmic delight, a falafel in pita cost $2.00. If wanted to add hummus, it would be $2.50. It's safe to say that I was practically vibrating. I nearly wept. I ordered an Orange Fanta (that came with a straw!) and a falafel sandwich to go. Because the three plastic tables were packed with other falafel lovers, I walked across the street and sat on the stoop of an old brownstone. The first bite must have cost me 10 cents, and yet it transported me to a place beyond words. Talk about a religious experience.

I believe I have found my Manolo.

The good news is that I have a meeting later today in that area, near NYU. It's going to cost me just as much to eat as it will to get me there on the subway. Mamoun and I will be going for Round Two.

7 comments:

I-66 said...

I never did understand the fascination with shoes. I personally cannot fathom paying $500 for something I'm going to put my feet in. The most I pay for shoes is when I buy new soccer cleats and I pay $150 at most... but I'm wearing those 3 times a week so I'm getting my money's worth. $500? No thanks.

And now, thanks to you, I'm getting a 12 of Orange Fanta on the way home. Not that I can find anything wrong with it, because it is clearly the best Fanta flavor.

Happy new year, doll.

Namaste said...

I love Orange Fanta.

VJ said...

Me, I'm predicting your next NY BF comes from the general environs around Mamoun's. That religious experience can be catchy.

I never quite got the shoe thing either. But I know that there's quite a market for used women's shoes (and far worse actually) particularly from the Japanese fetish 'market'. And if I'm going to spend $500 for a fashion accessory, it's going to be from this gent: [http://www.agrussell.com/].

Cheers & Good Luck in the New Year N! 'VJ'

Namaste said...

haha. thanks, VJ.

Chuck said...

Ohhhhhhh... Mamoun's. (sigh) My dear, you've made my stomach rumble with envy and my taste buds light up in delight. I can't begin to count the number of falafel sandwiches that have blessed both my hungry belly and my empty wallet. Believe it or not, that is perhaps the thing I miss most about being away from NYC for the past 5 years: MacDougall falafel.

I just discovered your site and am having a lovely time reading!

Namaste said...

Yes, Chuck, it's all about the MacDougal falafel. I'm totally hooked.

Asian Mistress said...

I can't decide if I loved the shoes the best or the falafel story the best in this post...

It makes me want a little bit of everything! A lil Manolo, a lil falafel, a lil Fanta...