Stressfest at Tiffany’s

Illustration by Stephanie Ku

Illustration by Stephanie Ku

This really a story is about my friend Loria. She was a former coworker who was delightfully my opposite. She was tall, classy, charming, calm, and quite sure of herself. I met her in my early 20s… which on it’s face SHOULD explain where I was in my life. I didn’t wear dresses. She was always dressed to the nines. She reminded me of Audrey Hepburn, who is relevant to this story in a couple of different ways. Audrey Hepburn was always my idea of beauty. Simple and approachable, but stunning. Classic.

Loria and I would often chat in the mornings, walking to get a cup of coffee, heading back to sit for a bit in her office. Between work talk I’d tell her stories of my anxiety ridden nerd life, figuring out how to be an adult. She’d tell me about her social adventures, local restaurants she’d been to, wine, and her fiancé and his burgeoning career. We were an odd pair. But we really enjoyed each other’s company and she became an important friend to me in an awkward period in my life.

One day, while discussing work, she mentioned she needed to run by Tiffany’s. In our old office, when senior staff left for greener pastures traditionally their parting gift would be a crystal apple paperweight. She had been tasked with picking one up. Given my impression of Tiffany’s (drawn mostly from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s) I was sort of taken aback at first. A paperweight from TIFFANY’S?! She told me to calm down, it was only $125. I was perplexed… Tiffany’s had insanely expensive things. It was a FANCY PLACE ™. I didn’t think anything from there could cost under a thousands dollars.

“Have you ever even gone there? There’s one in the mall.”
“What? No! Are you kidding? I have no reason to go into that store. I’m like waaaay too poor, too pedestrian. They’d throw me out!”
“Oh come on. You’ve never just LOOKED?”
“I can’t tell you how uncomfortable the very idea of that makes me. I have no business going in there.”

So Loria brought me along with her to pick up the apple. I felt nervous and weird. Here I was, a tiny awkward dork, walking into TIFFANY’S with Loria – an embodiment of elegance who looked like she belonged in there. I looked like I had shown up because I needed to fix their receipt printer.

We walked in and were immediately flanked by a personal shopper. I avoided eye contact and became well acquainted with the texture of their tile floor while Loria explained that we needed to pick up an order. While they were in the back collecting the order, we looked around. She walked over to the displays and I hesitantly followed, using her as a barrier. The cases glowed with beautiful, shiny baubles. Rings, necklaces, glassware… It was all there. I stared. I cooed. Another personal shopper asked if we needed to see anything from the cases. I stammered “uh UH UH no”.

As we drove back to work, apple in tow, reflecting on the experience, Loria said that I really needed to leave behind all these ideas of where I should and shouldn’t go and what I should and shouldn’t do. They don’t know me or what money I did (or didn’t) have. And more importantly – who cares! You’re just looking. I reminded her that I was ruled by anxiety, but it was a valid point and I appreciated the adventure that day.

A year or so later, when Nick and I were married, Loria’s gift was two champagne flutes from Tiffany’s. It was tremendously thoughtful and meaningful and when I opened them I burst into tears. The gift she’d given me was so much more than the champagne flutes.

I reminded Nick about this story when we were at the mall a couple days ago. There we were, in front Tiffany’s, peering inside as the personal shopper near the entrance peered back out as us.

“Should we go in? They have barware.”
“Ehhh, I think I’m okay. What if it turns out the ONLY martini glasses I like are from Tiffany’s? And who knows how much they cost. And we’re not buying anything today anyway.”
“True. We can look online.”

So we looked in the window cases on the outside, much like Audrey Hepburn did… and then we left. But I think had we gone in, it would have been fine. Because really – who cares.

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