Would yall mind taking a picture of me standing next

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mind taking a picture of me standing next to the waiter? I’d have my friend do it, but she’s got a bug up her butt.”I expected her to be physically removed from the building and was horrified to realize that the Plaza Hotel was essentially Bonnie Central.Dressed for comfort in sweatshirts and tracksuits, her fellow scarecrows were more than happy to accommodate her. The flashbulbs wereblinding.“Now those were some nice New Yorkers,” she said, waving good-bye to the crowd in the tearoom. I tried to explain that they weren’t realNew Yorkers, but at that point she’d stopped listening to anything I had to say. She dragged Alisha off for a carriage ride through Central Park,and then it was time for a visit to what she called “Fay-o Schwartz.” The toy store was followed by brutal pilgrimages to Radio City Music Hall, St.Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza. The crowds were such that you could pick your feet off the ground and becarried for blocks in either direction. I was mortified, but Bonnie was in a state of almost narcotic bliss, overjoyed to have discovered a New Yorkwithout the New Yorkers. Here were out-of-town visitors from Omaha and Chattanooga, outraged over the price of their hot roasted chestnuts.They apologized when stepping on someone’s foot and never thought to complain when some nitwit with a video camera stupidly blocked theirpath. The crowd was relentlessly, pathologically friendly, and their enthusiasm was deafening. Looking around her, Bonnie saw a glitteringparadise filled with decent, like-minded people, sent by God to give the world a howdy. Encircled by her army of angels, she drifted across theavenue to photograph a juggler, while I hobbled off toward home, a clear outsider in a city I’d foolishly thought to call my own.A ShinerLike a DiamondI’D BEEN LIVING IN MANHATTAN for eight years when my father called, excited by the news that my sister Amy was scheduled to appear ina magazine article devoted to the subject of interesting New York women.“Can you imagine?” he asked. “My God, put a camera in front of that girl, and she’ll shine like a diamond! Between the single men and thejob opportunities, her phone is going to be ringing right off the hook!” He paused for a moment, perhaps imagining the life of a young New Yorkwoman whose phone rings off the hook. “We just have to make sure that none of the wrong people call her. You’ll take care of that, right?”“I’m putting it on my to-do list as we speak.”“Good boy,” he said. “The trouble is that she’s just so darn pretty. That’s the danger right there. Plus, you know, she’s a girl.”My father has always placed a great deal of importance on his daughters’ physical beauty. It is, to him, their greatest asset, and he monitorstheir appearance with the intensity of a pimp. What can I say? He was born a long time ago and is convinced that marriage is a woman’s onlyreal shot at happiness. Because it was always assumed that we would lead professional lives, my brother and I were free to grow as plump and

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