Illustration: John Ritter
I just finished reading Love, Loss, and What I Wore for the 219th time. It's a quirky little autobiography in which the utterly charming Ilene Beckerman recalls her life's defining moments through the wardrobe choices she's made—from Brownie uniform to bridal veil.
The book got me digging through my own closet full of milestones, but clothes have never really been my thing, so here is all I can report from the fashion front: When I was 5, my parents took me to see Snow White and I have a clear memory of wearing a sleeveless orange sundress dotted with little white flowers and thinking that when I grew up I would do whatever it took to avoid a gig where I had to be the cleaning lady for a houseful of diamond-mining dwarfs or, for that matter, any man who goes by the name of Sneezy. I also have a clear memory of being 13 and getting the perfect dress for Michael Lasky's Bar Mitzvah. Unfortunately, Judy Glassman got the same perfect dress and Judy Glassman was adorable. I recently unearthed an old photo—proof positive that I, too, was adorable, but not even Paul McCartney himself could've convinced me of that back in the day. Finally, I will admit that somewhere between 1961 and this morning there appears to have been a fake fur vest, a pair of pink pleather hot pants, and something that, were I feeling really charitable, could best be described as a staggeringly festive sombrero...with antlers.
And that pretty much sums up the last 48 years of my life in clothes. Believe me, Beckerman did it better—my story just doesn't quite work when filtered through the prism of ball gowns and bathing suits because frankly, even if I were the Belle of the Ball or the Bunny of the Beach, it isn't the stuff I wore that stays with me.
Love, Loss, and What I Ate
The first time I visited France, I did not sleep on the eight-hour flight for a perfectly reasonable reason; I wanted to be preternaturally alert in case the pilot suddenly needed me to land the plane. You may be wondering why he wouldn't simply turn to his or her copilot for assistance. I don't know. You may be wondering if in fact I have a pilot's license. I do not. You may be wondering how many other delusions of grandeur I currently suffer from. Dozens. My point is that the first time I saw Paris, it was through profoundly jet-lagged eyes.
Here's everything I know about French cooking: (1) Julia Child was a genius and (2) those little rodents in that Ratatouille movie couldn't have been more darling. As for what I know of the French language, well, suffice it to say that I once walked into a small pharmacy outside Lyon and tried to buy a tube of "KY marmalade." Want to know what you get when you combine a distinct lack of foreign language skills with a limited knowledge of haute cuisine and a dash of sleep deprivation? You get a plate of scandalously rare meat with a raw egg perched on top. You also get me screeching across the rather sedate bistro, "Holy mother of God, there's an oeuf on my boeuf!"