Oh what a love-a-ly mawning!


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.



  1. Could be worse… Fern’s in love with Madeline, and now she begs for an appendectomy.

  2. Emme-Eloise, I love it! We just have Fancy Nancy issues, which makes for some hi-larious costumes, but Arabella had Nancy beat when she was 2.

  3. nana2twinz says:

    Oh my, what a lovely way to start my day. My mother passed to me the love of Eloise and, while I neglected to do so to my daughter, I so hoped I could do the same to my granddaughters. So far, three grandsons, none of whom give a fig for Eloise or The Plaza. Bummer. But, thanks for your blog. I love it.

  4. Emme has got to be the cutest little girl, and you are most definitely the best dad.

  5. I love this! So sweet. Happy New Year to you and the fam!

  6. Emme is adorable. This was a great story!

  7. I made good on my little girl fantasies and went to Paris when I was 23, and around the same time had tea at the Plaza in NYC. I entirely understand the obsession.

  8. Obsession is a good word for it. I don’t know why I was so originally against the idea, as I spent my early teenage years pestering my mom to take me to Cannery Row just to see if Mac and the boys were around anywhere and to see if we could find Doc’s lab. Alas, we did not. But I think it’s probably why I’m so into the literary dress up — it’s fun to make books really come to life.

  9. This is a seriously sweet story! I love the photo of her sitting at the table looking so lady-like. I can’t wait to take my girls to the Ritz for tea some day… but for now Charlotte would much prefer to play with trucks and jump in mud puddles… perhaps there is no tea in my future?

  10. The Eloise movie just happened to be on TV yesterday. Which reawakened my 5 year old’s interest in Eloise. My daughter didn’t share your sympathy for the poor abandoned girl though.
    “Wow! Can you go away and leave me alone at a hotel? Please? Maybe when I’m six?”
    At least Emme let you come along for the tea party.

  11. Her face in that last picture is a blank canvas on which to write all kinds of funny quotes. Could be childishly innocent, could be snob-in-training (given the environment), could be merely unimpressed and waiting for something new and shiny to catch her eye.

    More than likely, though, she’s just staring down the waiter, willing him to turn around so she can finally get some juice in that wine glass.

  12. The last one was more like it. But yeah, she’s enigmatic sometimes.

  13. Mary Helen says:

    Oh my gawd, what an adorable girl. We haven’t introduced Emma to Eloise or Fancy Nancy or Madeline. I’ve got to get with it!

    I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday.

  14. Such a sweet daddy. :) I love your blog, your writing is fantastic and I look forward to seeing a new post in my reader! I have a 2.5 year old so its cute to hear all the similarities of our toddlers.

  15. OH MY GOD I want that morning. How fun! Nothing like making things fancy for a little girl, huh?

  16. I am sure that there is plenty of swearing and breaking wind that you choose not to write about, but damn if you don’t seem like a Disney movie come to life.

  17. Well, we don’t do that second thing you mentioned, or at least I don’t, but yes, Disney. Disney all the way.

  18. What a wonderful experience! I am jealous just reading. I bet she had an amazing journey that will be a memory forever. You are such a cool Dad!

  19. Eloise has always depressed the shit out of me. It’s gotta be the loneliest children’s story ever.

    Unless you consider the Giving Tree…eh, that tree had a martyr complex.


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