Fire Thrill

So I was visiting a friend in Philadelphia one afternoon recently, and while she was at the gym (I elected not to go, because I knew the paparazzi would have a “field day” with me, and I really didn’t feel like addressing the recent allegations that I was caught shoplifting on 57th Street — I still maintain that one of those celebrity look-alikes is the offender, because I wasn’t anywhere near Burberry that day anyway), the fire alarm sounded in her condo (yes, that’s right — “condo”).

The first thing I thought, after the expected “What the ____” (fill in the blank with whatever you like; chances are, you’re right), and “OK, so which early bird Jewess is already starting on the kasha?” (accompanied by my flinging open the door to the hallway and sniffing for fried onions), was, “Do I go out like this [gray drawstring pants, black ribbed tank top, fun little socks] or do I change my outfit?” Of course, you know the answer. And of course you know that I had to brush my hair before slinking into my coat and flipping my scarf insouciantly around my neck. And grabbing the fabulous Kipling bag I’d just bought, and the little Lord & Taylor shopping bag containing items I’d also bought earlier. I have my priorities.

Or do I? I mean, wasn’t I missing something? Didn’t I forget to do something?

It wasn’t until I got downstairs that I realized I hadn’t put on lipstick. Now, I’m not a big makeup person (in fact, earlier that day, at the Clinique counter, I almost suffered a nervous breakdown when, under continued pressure from my friend and the counter girl, I finally, grudgingly, applied a shimmery eyeshadow to my right eyelid — you would’ve thought I’d been traumatized by eye shadow in my youth, given that when the two of them merely suggested I try it, I instantly started to panic) … but I do like my lipstick. I can’t leave the house without it. As much as I deride people who wear makeup to the gym, I must confess that I never go there without at least a swipe of lipgloss.

But there I was, in the lobby of a lovely Society Hill high-rise, poised ever so coyly on a cushy leather(ette?) chair, sans lip accoutrements. I felt absolutely naked, despite the fact that I was one of the few people down there fully dressed, complete with stunning, shiny black boots (new!) and a crisp little white shopping bag.

“I hate to be mean,” one young(ish) woman said to her friend, half-jokingly, “but there’d better be a fire for all this trouble!”

All this trouble? I thought. You didn’t even take the time to dress nicely for the event, my dear, let alone apply lipstick. Please. If anyone deserved to complain, it would be those of us who were so concerned with our safety that we even neglected, in all the excitement, to take care of what’s really important. I mean, I must really value a certain higher sense of self-preservation if I was willing, even for 15 minutes, to join the ranks of these girls.