Janice Levy <>

I hit Prada's today. It's my kind of store; no blaring music, no hard sell, no depressing posters of the nimble nouveau-naked. Fernando, my doe-eyed salesman, smells of musk. His whispered fawning strokes my soul. Nice place, that Prada, except it's hard to justify $700 for a pocketbook when I only carry a library card, dog biscuits, a coupon for Bagel Boss, the remains of a popped balloon, yes, my l9-year-old son's first tooth, some 29-cent stamps, a mysterious pair of boxers engraved "Natasha," and a total of ten dollars -- if there's no line at Waldbaum's deli counter. Better I should head to the mall, the grand equalizer of humanity.

"CAN YOU HELP ME?" They are drilling for oil somewhere between the Coach and Kate Spade bags, or is it merely Ricky Martin shaking his bon-bons on a video screen?

"I don't work the floor."

"Can you find someone who does?"

"I can't leave the register."

"Who can?"

"You'll have to ask."

"I'm asking."


Out that store, into the next...

"Got this in another color?"

"I have no clue."

"If you had to guess, what would you say?"

"Whatever's there."

"Got any boxes?"

"You still want me to guess?"

Out that store, into the next...

"When you finish eating, brushing your hair, cursing your boyfriend on the phone, shaving your legs, could I speak to the manager?"


Ten minutes pass. "The manager?"

"Oh, she's not here today."

Who needs a new pocketbook anyway, I think. I'll keep my old Polo bag and just take a crayon to the faded letters, maybe call it 'Solo' or 'Porno" and start my own line. I stop Ranger Guy; the one with the hat who looks like he misplaced his moose. "Excuse me, I'm looking for the Nordstrom's exit?"

"No problem."

"The parking lot?"

"No problem."

"My car?"

"No problem." He points to his name tag. There are no vowels. Ranger Guy is happy. I'm happy he's happy. He shakes my hand. Next week we'll do lunch.

Ah, but Prada...I can cash in my son's tooth and skip the bagels. I can set Nastasha free. But ditch the dog biscuits? Nah, even I have my limits. I'll just get a whiff of Fernando, my Prada man, and let him whisper prices in my ear. I'll pet some leather, slide a zipper up and down. Maybe that will be enough.

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