I've been an Audrey Hepburn enthusiast for as long as I can remember and have watched Breakfast at Tiffany's countless times. For decades, I aspired to have a Breakfast at Tiffany’s day in New York like Hepburn and George Peppard have when they take turns doing things they’ve never done before. And of course it must include a stroll to Tiffany’s because “nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
My husband, who was my fiancé at the time, Flash, and I were making plans to go to New Jersey so I could meet his family. Don’t be alarmed; his nickname doesn’t refer to any leanings toward voyeurism, but rather his running speed back in the day. We’d been dating several months, and I knew a proposal was in my future. In fact, I was convinced the big question would come while we stood on top of the Empire State Building on our day trip to the city. Think Sleepless in Seattle. I ordered a red paisley jacket with gold buttons down the front and matching skirt set for the occasion.
On November 1, a chilly day with bright sunshine, I stopped by Flash’s apartment after work because we had dinner plans. I walked in to see a big balloon on his dining room table. It was filled with confetti, candy, and a stuffed dog. I assumed someone at work gave it to him for a job well done. As if work commendations often come in the form of toys inside balloons.
“That’s cute,” I commented as he stood behind it, letting me get the full effect.
I walked up to it to get a better look at the dog. “Awww, it’s wearing a jacket with New York Jets colors. What’s this for?”
“It’s for you. Look closer.”
“For me? Why?” Finally, I saw it. That pooch was holding a small ring box in his paw.
I was stunned. We weren’t at an elevation of 1,250 feet, and I was wearing a big 80s-looking sweater with flowers embroidered down the v-neck, something I’m not proud of.
I just stared at him, speechless. And I waited for a question.
There was no question; it was, of course, inferred, and then he asked, “Well?”
“Well what?” I was grinning as I milked every second of the event.
“Will you marry me?” There it was. And how did I answer?
“Hmm, let me check my calendar,” followed by “Yes!”
We were engaged and would have our day in New York. My Tiffany’s dream would soon come true. I’d been to New York for several hours on my way to Canada with a group of friends back in the mid-80s, but Tiffany’s was not on the speed-of-light agenda that day.
In my dream state, however, I had not considered the testosterone factor. Finally, the moment had arrived. We were on holy ground as I walked up to that beautiful, polished granite exterior and gazed upon the gold Tiffany’s & Co. lettering. I heard "Moon River" in my head.
“C’mon, let’s go in.” My excitement knew no bounds.
“I’m not going in there.”
His lips were moving, but all I heard was some garbled sentence that translated to “stick in the mud.”
“What? It’s TIFFANY’S! We have to go in.”
“No, you go ahead. I’ll wait here.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was there, with the man I was going to marry, and he felt awkward about going in. Hadn’t he seen the movie? Why wasn’t he following the script in my head?
“We’re not ring shopping. I’m not looking to do a trade-in,” I assured the strange man.
“I know. I’ll just stay here.”
But first things first. Having breakfast at Tiffany’s was top priority. Of course, most people on the street in the city at 10 a. m. were not looking for something to eat; they were rushing here and there with briefcases and cups of coffee. Who had time for breakfast? No wonder there were no bagel vendors to be found. I saw no bakeries or donut shops nearby, but a hot dog vendor was right around the corner.
Flash told me that the New York hot dog lives up to its reputation. So, a hot dog it was, eaten right in front of Tiffany’s. It was the best hot dog of my life. My stomach and heart full, it was time.
“I’m going in,” I told Flash as I entered, wind blowing through my hair as the swooshing of the revolving door delivered me to paradise. I felt like the millions of dollars that would be needed to pay for all that awaited me on that first floor, which, at the time, I thought was the only floor in the building. I was so Tiffany-ignorant.
As I circled around the glass cases displaying every array of diamonds and jewels imaginable, "men in black" were at every turn, waiting to catch a thief. It was all so romantic and movie-like. I was scared to touch anything. I could imagine an alarm going off when my low-budget hand grazed the top of the glass, much like the bells sounding when the Pink Panther diamond is stolen. I glanced around at the customers, wondering if they could afford the prices or if they were they just playing "pretend" along with me?
Eight years later and seven years married, Flash and I were back in New York and inside Tiffany's. He had grown as a person. This time, I learned there was more than one floor and told a saleslady my price range. “Third floor,” she responded. Ah, the floor for the tight-fisted. Next time we go, we'll take our teenage son, Cowboy, with us and hit every floor; with his great taste, we'll find something I can't live without.
On that monumental day in 2001, I left with my first purchase in a Tiffany Blue box with a matching ribbon around it. I paid $30 for that bottle of Truest cologne, but having my husband with me in Tiffany’s was worth a million dollars.