Saturday, April 23, 2016

A New York Diary: The Exotic Marigold Hotel, Dr. Ruth, Mary Emmerling and more!

Oh what a night! 
 This is part II of my story about going to NYC with Matthew Mead
 to attend a private party for Mary Emmerling  (Read Part I here).  
Matthew picked me up and we headed out the Massachusetts Turnpike to New York, 
about a four hour drive. We talked non-stop the entire ride, and soon enough
 we had checked into our rooms at a modest hotel on the outskirts of the city that
 we selected from the internet.  I asked for our rooms to be on the same floor so things 
would be more convenient.  When we arrived we realized that this hotel 
was a family run business, shades of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 
the fun and enchanting and crazy Indian hotel in the 
award winning movie starring Judi Dench.  (If you haven't watched it yet, you must!)
Of course our hotel wasn't "Exotic", it was more "Pedestrian" if truth be told. 
But still it was unusual and our New York adventure had definitely begun.  
It was a very warm spring day, and all the doors and windows of the hotel
 were propped open to allow the warm air to circulate 
(presumably a savings on the air-conditioning bills).  
The scent of curry from the family kitchen  in the hotel wafted through the air.  
We wondered what would be on the menu for the free continental breakfast 
as we walked up the stair case (the elevator was very old fashioned 
with a pull style scissor gate.  When we called for it, 
we found it  filled with family members, so we opted for the stairs. 
As we walked down the hall, we walked by rooms that had chunks of plaster
 from the falling ceiling littering the floors, and bathrooms being ripped apart.  
The place was clearly in a state of remodel, much like the movie version 
of the Best Marigold Hotel.  We couldn't help but feel we were in our own 
Metro Goldwyn Mayer production.  When I got to my room, I shut the windows and turned on the 
AC to cool off and to shut out the noise of the workers. 
The whole notion of the Marigold Hotel comparison has me thinking:
Who would play us in our version of the movie?? 
Ok so I keep getting told that I look like Diane Keaton, and I guess the older I get the more I can see it too, especially when I wear my eyeglasses. So she would play me in our movie version of The Best Pedestrian Bizarre Marigold Hotel in New York, and Colin Firth would play Matthew.  But I digress...after we checked in and changed into our casual but smart outfits we headed into the city to put Matthew's big blue pickup truck in a garage.  Now that was another story...but if I tell every story I will never finish this post.  Lets just say that our pretend movie screenplay continued, 
 as the parking attendant nazi could have been a character in our film as well.  
We had to beg him to allow our behemoth sized (for NY) vehicle to be parked, 
and we had to bribe him and promise to be back in less than two hours to get it out of there!! 
(Which DID NOT happen~it was more like four hours later...)
 But we said what we had to and got out of the truck and hit the streets of the city, happy as two designers could be!  Well, for Matthew he was going to be reunited with beloved coworkers from his former years in the magazine biz, and for me, I was happy to get out of the suburbs and have an adventure!  I knew we were to attend a party for major league  Country Design legend, Mary Emmerling, and it would be in a swanky private apartment in the city's nicest area.  Yippee!  No pressure for me, because I was just a nobody who could blend right in, and if you know me, I have no qualms about talking to anyone, regardless of their status, looks or attitude!
 I was up for whatever the night was going to offer.
I also wanted to try to take as many pics as I could without being obnoxious, mostly
so Matthew could remember this special night.  It had been twenty years since he had
seen most of these people, and especially Mary, who was the reason we were even taking this 
detour from our every day lives. He rang the bell, and the doorman let us in...well he actually closed the door in my face because I had lagged behind trying to snap this pic of Matthew, lol. 
Then an assistant checked our names of the approved list and we headed to the elevator with 
the elevator guy, (all of the apartment attendants were in uniforms and hats).  The fancy elevator
with its wood paneling and carved molding was impressive, and when the door opened, it was 
right into the apartment of the hostess!  We stepped inside the empty foyer and looked at each other...
where was everybody?  Well, they were in the next room, the dining room, which was the reception area and quickly enough the hostess, Patti, came over and inquired as to how we knew Mary,
and then she beckoned for Mary Emmerling to come over and greet us.  A warm hug and hellos
were exchanged by Matthew and Mary, and I got a nice smile and quick handshake. 
I hadn't forgotten I was an add-on, and I planned to enjoy myself with some people watching!  
(Perhaps one of my most favorite things to do, meeting new and interesting people).
 The dining room was set up with appetizers and there was a wine and sparkling water bar, managed by an attendant which we promptly visited.  After driving four hours to New York, I was certainly ready to have a libation!  A very small older woman was seated at the end of the table and I didn't realize it until an hour later, but it was another legend, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.  She is known for her frank discussions about sex, and had her own show and was a guest on many shows, like Oprah.  
Right away Matthew got embroiled in deep catch up convos with some
 of the writers, stylists and photographers from the early magazine days.
 I had to find something fun to I started wandering around the room
 and sparking up conversations with various people.  Many of the guests were
 in the same boat as I was, as far as they knew very few if any of the other guests, besides Mary.
I met Mary's ex-husband and sister in law, and I met a fascinating older women whose home had been in one of Mary's books.  We spent quite a while was about that time that I noticed the tiny older woman was Dr. Ruth, so I went over to her and introduced myself and told her how nice it was to meet her.  She was lively and engaging and sharp as a tack.
 Here she is in the living room chatting up a few of the other guests.  
She looks amazing, doesn't she?  
I was also busy trying to look at the amazing art collection displayed 
throughout Patti's beautiful apartment.  These were not prints, oh no. 
They were original oil paintings, the likes of what you only find in museums.  
The most gorgeous collection I have ever seen. And look at that mantel! 
  Gilt and silver candlesticks with lit candles were all over the apartment, and it was so lovely!
 Old fashioned and classic and fabulous all rolled into one enchanting ball.  Fine antiques and carpets were the backdrop for the interesting and lovely people that were the cast for this most fun of parties! 
The Creative Director for Ralph Lauren Home, Mary Randolph Carter was there
 (above with her back to me, wearing her signature fly fishing vest that she wears antiquing).
So many other notables in the world of decor were at this party for Mary Emmerling!
 Candid photos from the night~the foyer filled with people as they gathered to hear Mary's presentation about her latest book, along with juicy tidbits she would share that
 didn't make it into the book.  
Mary was introduced by Patti after we all took our places in the living room.
Patti was a client of Mary's from awhile back, when Patti found Mary through her
New York shop and they have been great friends ever since! Patti and I had a chance to
chat at the end of the night, and I found her warm and engaging and I hope to talk more
 with and about her in the future as she is quite a fascinating person. 
 Mary had us all enthralled with her career highlights, as told mostly in her
 latest book, Eclectic Country.  After the presentation she went to do book signings in the library.
 The library had dark green laquered walls and leather upholstery and it made for a cozy spot to get your book signed.  Stacks of her books sat in piles on the coffee table waiting for her personalized notes, adorned with a hand drawn heart next to her signature.
 Monica Buck, photographer, Matthew Mead, stylist/photographer, Jill Kirchner Simpson, writer.
These guys were joined at the hip for most of the party and were having a ball reconnecting.
Meanwhile dinner was being served, which was a surprise as we thought it was only a two hour affair.  And it was quickly apparent we would not be returning to the garage any time soon!
While they were busy chatting I went in search of dinner and was handed a plate of salad and lasgna in the dining room.  The long table was set up for dinner and there were a few diners already eating. Three spots were open at the end of the table, and Dr. Ruth had just been seated at the head.  I took my plate and offered to go find a spot on a couch somewhere, but they insisted I sit at the table next to Dr. Ruth.  In no time at all we were chatting away!  I was calling her Ruth by the end of our meal.  She told me that her home was decorated by Nate Berkus, ("for free!") as it was in his book. She absolutely LOVED what Nate did and she said everything has a place and that is the best part!  Dr. Ruth expressed an interest in me as well, asking what I did.  Then another male guest joined us at the table with his glass of wine and said in a loud and animated voice, "Dr. Ruth, what can I do to get my wife to have more sex??"  She responded just as loudly, "We are NOT talking about SEX tonight!! We are talking about INTERIOR DESIGN!!" It was pretty hilarious.  This was a most fascinating evening...and in my opinion, Matthew was missing quite a bit of it!  We finished up dinner, and Ruth got up and caressed my cheek as she departed. It was touching and sweet.  She was off to her Nate Berkus decorated apartment via a car service Patti had arranged.  I got up and found Matthew in the book signing room (the library).  He was watching Mary signing book after book, and he had yet to get his own books signed.  If you must know one thing about Matthew, it is that he is NOT pushy at all. Mary announced that she needed to eat something, as she was getting very tired.  I sat down next to her on the leather sofa and asked her if she could just sign my book (that I brought with me, as I had already bought a copy).  She was very fatigued and obliged, and then asked me, "sorry but your name again?"  Hahah! I was a nobody alright, and having a great time despite my lack of notable achievements.  She signed my book and then she got up and Matthew, Jill and Mary went in search of dinner.  Everyone had left or was leaving or lingering around the dinner table, so Patti instructed her staff to set up a private dining table for the four of us in the living room (even though I already ate).   The night just kept getting more interesting...
 We dined with Mary and they shared stories from the old days as well as discussed what was happening with the likes of Ralph and Martha.  Soooo fun to sit in on that dinner discussion.
The wine was wonderful too!  And then it was clear the evening was winding down...
but Matthew still didn't have his signed copies yet!  
 I asked Jill to take a quick photo of me and Matthew
 (so you can know that I truly was in attendance). 
The plump down sofas covered in a  pretty Bennison fabric was part of
 the decor chosen by Mary years before.  The windows looked out onto the rest 
of the city and it was truly a glorious night. 
A quick trip to the powder room revealed a black and white transferware platter
(just like mine)  holding monogrammed towels and the walls were covered in
 botanical prints.  Ahhh, it was all so nice. But it was getting late,
 and I was hoping Matthew was asking Mary to sign his books while I was in the loo.
And he had.  
Although Mary was very tired,  
I  had to ask..."could I snap a pic of you two together?"
 I wanted him to have this photo as a keepsake of the evening along with his books. 
 In another minute we would all say our goodbyes, 
and Matthew and I would be  returning to our Marigold Hotel, although Patti told
us we could stay over in one of the guest rooms (!) too bad we didn't! 
And so of course, wouldn't you know...there is going to be Part III. 
Because the NYC story didn't end here.
 Nope, we went to Martha Stewart's the next day.  Yes. We did.
So that will be next up  on the blog, to finish up our very fun NY adventure.
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  1. So fun! Love reading the highlights from your trip. xx

  2. Great read, Amy! This is serious fun, I feel like I am tagging along with y'all!

  3. Well wasn't this a rollicking tale! First, yes, you do look like Diane Keaton with your glasses on and that is a very good thing and I would be happy to trade places with you. But with your glasses off, you could pass for a different Diane--Diane Lane. Again, I'd be happy to be in your shoes!
    I love your people watching. So fun to be there vicariously. I got to meet Dr. Ruth years ago--she was related to the neighbors of some friends and was hanging out at their apartment's pool. Yes, she was a hoot.
    Why are libraries always green? Mine is the color of sunrise in southern France, a warm butter shade. I hope I am not violating some law of libraries.
    Can't wait to read about MARTHA STEWART!!!!!!!

  4. Drat, I forgot to add: That hotel under construction looks just like the pink palace in Jaipur, India!!! The place with monkeys crawling all over. It really is smashing IRL.

  5. Oh what fun! Thank you for taking all of us along for the ride! I can't wait for part 2!

  6. I enjoy reading about your life and have learned much as well. Would never have purchased Matthew's latest magazine were it not for you. I feel as if we are friends. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Wow! That is quite a story! And ironically, I just watched that movie on my plane ride home from Germany last week. So funny! Loved the movie - and this post. Would've loved to have been a fly on the wall:)

    And Martha Stewart! Well, now I'm jealous!!


  8. What a night and what an wonderful it must have been to meet the great Mary Emmerling and the cutie Dr. Ruth...Love that Nate Berkus decorated her home!....Love Nate....and I gasped when you said that the Creative Director of RL Home was there...So happy that you had a wonderful time and an experience to remember forever. What a most wonderful friend you have in Matthew Mead.


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