Emmeline pressed the button and when the doors opened, she hopped in and announced “second floor please!” I stared at her for a beat too long and she nudged me with her elbow, whispering out of the side of her mouth, “Daddy” — and so I pressed the button and we got out on the second floor.
“Come on,” she said, grabbing my hand, “Let’s take the stairs!”
So we took the stairs to the next level and she pressed the button and when the elevator came she got in and said “second floor please!” and I pressed the button, assuming my new role in life: servant.
We got out and took the stairs again, this time going to the fourth floor before pressing the button again, getting in and this time going back down to the lobby.
“Would you like to do that again?” I asked
“No,” she said, “Let’s just find Skipperdee.”
Emme is in love with Eloise.
Dana’s cousin sent us the book for Christmas and Emme loves to hear about the rambunctious six year old who lives in the penthouse suite of the Plaza Hotel in New York. In the book, the spoiled moppet spends her days haranguing her nanny and the hotel employees, riding elevators to nowhere, eavesdropping on the ladies who lunch and barging her way into cocktail parties. Whenever we read it, I can see this secret thrill behind Emme’s eyes as she consumes these tales of unabashed independence, dreaming about a day when she will be free to drop a pitcher of water down the mail chute like a real neglected daughter of industry, but I always feel a little sad for the poor girl — her mom shopping in Paris or something and her father not even mentioned.
Maybe that’s why Emme likes it so much.
Dana had the good sense to break the long book into three parts read over three days. I didn’t find this out until later, after Emme had demanded to read it seven times in a row one morning. By the end of it, my back was in spasms, I was hoarse and, worst of all, Emme was shouting “charge it please!” to whomever would listen.
“I’m going to live in the Plaza when I’m a big girl,” she explained, “And I’m going to have a turtle on a leash and maybe we’ll skibble down the hall in roller skates for Lord’s sake!”
“Lawd’s, sweetpea. It’s Lawd’s.”
“For Lawd’s sake!”
I remember reading a newspaper story a long time ago, before Emme, about a doorman or a bell captain at the Plaza and how he was always seeing little girls and their parents entering the building in wide-eyed search for a mythical six year old and her Pilsner-soaked nanny.
“How sad and pathetic,” I remember grumbling.
So it came as a great surprise last week to hear my own mouth suggesting that we should go have tea at the Plaza someday. Emme practically flew out of the door and I figured it would be easier to simply make her an Eloise dress and take her to tea than explain the length, cost and time of cross-country air travel.
Fortunately, The Palace hotel near Dana’s office downtown has the same stuffy charm, the ornate furnishings and the ungodly expensive food as the Plaza in New York.
Under the stained glass atrium dome, we shared a cookie and Emme had her very own pitcher of peppermint tea, while I nursed a $5 coffee and tried to not look out of place in ripped jeans I had purchased from a tranny on Valencia Street.
It was magical.
We chatted for a long time and took turns sipping milk from a silver cream pitcher, and when the bill came, Emme shouted “charge it please!” and then grabbed my hand.
“Let’s go find the elevators for Lawd’s sake!”
This is apparently what “skibbling” looks like.