Warren Miller: In search of perfection; Vail, Colorado
Vail, CO, Colorado
There were only three shopping days left before they would fly in their G-5 to their condo in Colorado for the Christmas holidays. She was bundled against the biting wind and the hurrying crowds of shoppers.
She had already purchased seven new very expensive ski outfits from the Gorsuch catalog for the Christmas trip to Colorado. She was on her way downtown from their large four-bedroom apartment on the East Side of Park Avenue overlooking Central Park.
Tonight there would be another round of Christmas cocktail and dinner parties to get ready for, and her beauty shop appointment should not take longer than the usual hour and a half. She had to look her best for these three parties tonight because one of them was a cocktail party for major donors of the opera, and one was a formal dinner party at the Waldorf for the partners and a dozen other executives of her husband’s brokerage firm.
Even though it was only mid-afternoon, she was as always, elegantly groomed and striding purposely downtown.
Her husband worked long hours in the bowels of Wall Street, exchanging endless frantic hours of his life to buy the elegant clothes that she wore.
He also had to make the payments on the Park Avenue apartment, pay the salary of the maid and cook, the housekeeper and the caretaker in the Hamptons, their condo in Vail, and the Mercedes that sat in the Colorado garage 50 weeks a year. There was also the tuition and overhead for their two children in private school in New Hampshire and, of course, the obligatory orthodontist’s monthly bill.
Their Park Avenue apartment closets were almost full with five fur coats, 31 jackets, 84 pairs if shoes, 19 skirts and 31 formal dresses. She was secure in the knowledge that the fur coat she was wearing cost her husband more money than most of the people she glanced at would earn in a year.
After her diet lunch, she had spent over an hour selecting the perfect outfit for her daily afternoon walk to the beauty shop.
Her calf-length boots had been handmade in Italy; her watch had been designed and handmade as a one of a kind for her in Switzerland the year her oldest son was born. The bracelet on her other wrist was made in Bombay, India, on their fifth wedding anniversary on their around-the-world trip in the first private jet that his company owned.
Her husband had personally designed her ring with the unusual colored diamond the year they went on the photo safari in Kenya. Near the end of the safari they took a side trip to the diamond mine that belonged to one of his clients in South Africa.
On the way home, they stopped in Holland and hired an 84-year-old diamond cutter to specially cut and polish the stone for her.
A ski instructor friend from his old days in Sun Valley had made the ring and set the stone for their 15th wedding anniversary.
Her simple but elegant jacket and skirt was handmade from the finest silk and tailored in Paris on another trip. The fur coat she decided to wear today was made of the finest Russian sable that money could buy. The pelts were matched, cut, and hand sewn in a loft on West 43rd Street.
Her amber prescription glasses were hand ground in Stuttgart for her by Germany’s foremost ophthalmologist so they would accentuate her cosmetically altered, perfectly made-up eyes.
She had now walked her prescribed daily 15 city blocks worth of exercise and was finally comfortable enough with her surroundings to occasionally glance in a store window. As she did every afternoon, she was still pursuing her lifelong search for that man-made accessory that she could purchase to cover her own imagined imperfections.
She saw it in the window of a small jewelry store. It was a small stickpin with a small diamond, surrounded by a dozen small rubies. For the week before she paused for a moment to make up her mind, a leaking faucet in a janitor’s closet had filled the slop sink, flowed across the floor and been dripping outside of the building. In the last three days it had been slowly forming an icicle that already weighed three hundred pounds.
Just after she had decided to charge the diamond and ruby stickpin to her husband’s account, she was hit in the back of her neck, midway between her two strings of perfectly matched Japanese pearls by the almost perfectly shaped 300-pound icicle that had silently dropped 14 floors.
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to over 50 publications. We’ve brought him back to where he started, beginning this week. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff, log onto Warren Miller.net