“OMG, Was anyone else there?”

“No, just him and he was with some woman.” Stef saw an A-list celebrity last night at dinner ($246 plus tip for two). It’s as if they’ve been living parallel lives up until now and then suddenly, the stars collide and the cosmos align and two souls decide to be in the same physical space at the same time. Stef is starting to get existential. She’s seen celebs before, plenty of ‘em. But never someone so famous and just a table away. It could be the spring cleaning, but Stef has been going through some major changes.

“Like, life changes?” Mellie asks as Stef throws her clothes into two piles. One to keep, one to throw away.

“I don’t know. I mean what are the chances that he would be sitting one table over from me? I wasn’t even in the mood for Asian fusion. What do you think of this top?”

“Sooo, last year,” Mellie exclaims, “Well I hope you don’t change too much. Who’s going to come with me to get mani-pedis?”

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“Isn’t Brad adorable?” Stef asks everyone when they come over. Brad is the cat that Stef recently rescued ($0).

“Is this, ya know, some way of replacing a boyfriend or something?” Mellie asks as she shoos away the animal that’s getting cat hair on her new Juicy Couture coat ($685). Stef has had a slow winter, so her therapist suggested getting a companion. Her mother suggested one of those pug, labrador, poodle mixes that is engineered in some Veternarian’s office, but Stef, being the trendy, eco-friendly, Africa-loving environmentalist yuppie, that is now keen on saving the impoverished, right after she hits the Barney’s Co-Op sales, wanted to be more like the Angelina Jolie of cats.

“Mellie, do you know how many cats are left as orphans every year?” Stef asks someone that could care less.

“If people in like, Africa, are like, starving, why don’t they just send all the cats over there?” Mellie asks, as if, something insightful just came to her.

“Mellie! That is a terrible thing to say!” Stef is furiously cleaning all the cat hair in her apartment.

“I guess we’re not going to Bloomies,” Mellie exclaims as she gathers her bag and heads for the door. “Bye Stef. Bye Brad.” As she makes her way out of the building, Mellie thinks to herself if she ever meets Barack Obama, that she is going to tell him about the cats in Africa idea. To her, it just makes sense.

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“Oh my gaad! This is going to be like, the best New Year’s ever!” Mellie screams into the phone. Stef still doesn’t believe it, but she is a good sport, plus this new boy sounds delicious. The plan is: 7:30 pm, double date at Dos Caminos ($385 plus tip), then midnight at Rose Bar ($18 per drink), then if things go well, back to his duplex condo on the Upper West Side, maybe?! Stef has been studying the picture text of the two new boys that Mellie met at some industry party two weeks ago. “This is how it’s supposed to go,” Mellie says, trying convince Stef to go along with her New Year’s plan, “You meet the boy at a holiday party, then he asks you out for New Year’s, then you rent a cabin for the weekend in Vermont ($625/weekend), then a bed and breakfast in the wine country in the spring ($275/night). After that we’ll be at the pool at his place in Southampton ($2.5M) all summer! This is going to be great, I can’t wait!”

So, in the wee hours of 2008, just as the cheery sun was saying hello for the first time this year, Stef crept out of a foreign bed with aftershave smells. She picks up her clothes, one by one, and walks past the overpriced unoriginal art and nouveau riche leather furniture. On her tippy-toes, she curses herself as she looks for her shoes. Manolo’s, no less. “Wow, this is a really nice apartment,” she says to herself as she steps out the door, as quiet as a mouse. As nausea subsides, she tosses her purple “Happy New Year’s” hat when she gets to the street.

“Southampton is out for me this summer,” Stef texts to Mellie before she can even grab coffee at Dean & DeLuca. Not even a minute later, Stef feels a vibration in her pants. “Not for me,” Mellie responds to the text message, “Cause I’m there right now!”

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“You’re like so over him,” Mellie exclaims, “I mean, he’s a jerk.” As much as Stef knows that he really is a jerk, she can’t stop thinking about how great her life would have been with him. Extended vacations in Italy, with the kids running around in the vineyard. She pictures her trendy clothes flowing in the Tuscan breeze as she steps out onto the veranda. Stef and Mellie stroll down the Westside promenade on a chilly weekend afternoon. The Albany rush of the Hudson flows beneath them as the Statue of Liberty’s subtle arm is raised in the distance. “I just don’t understand men, I’m going to be single forever,” Stef divulges, as if that’s what she is supposed to say.

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Stef smiles just thinking about it. She can barely contain herself and she certainly can’t concentrate on anything at work. A package of this years samples from Italy ($107.76 shipping charge) was the last ditch effort made by “shoe boy,” as Mellie refers to him. Stef figures she will have to make it up him in some way. Her mind wanders…Shoes ($128 and up)? Bags ($148 and up)? Coats ($598 and up)? All Coach. All samples. All free. Maybe she had him all wrong. So what if he has a girlfriend back home. She can still have fun.

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What is she to make of a guy from Italy that drinks Mojitos, designs women’s shoes and Salsa dances? Well, at least he’s a little different than the typical “I-Banker” ($250K plus bonus) Stef usually goes for. She stumbles her way back to civilization after a night of plantains ($4.50) and underground Latin dance clubs ($20 cover) on Avenue C. He says his Italian “womanizing” days are over, but how can Stef really trust a guy with that accent, especially after promising all those free samples from Coach ($0.00 with strings attached). So she gave him a fake excuse–she has to meet up with her out-of-town cousin on the Upper East Side, so we will see if he calls tomorrow. She thinks yes.

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Maybe it was the shoes that gave Stef so much confidence last week at Happy Hour. She splurged on a pair of flats from Coach ($148). “I just have to have them,” she told her best friend, Melissa (Mellie). A revealing yet classy summer dress completed the outfit at Rio Grande that Thursday after work. Mellie was sipping a two-for-one Margarita ($10 plus tip) through a straw complaining about Tyler, again. Stef has heard the same whining so many times, she can go in and out of the conversation and still know how to advise Mellie in her internet relationships. Stef excused herself to go the bathroom so the guy that she’s been staring at can have a chance to talk to her. Guys usually try to talk to Stef. She is pretty damn attractive but approachable at the same time. “Excuse me, do I know you from somewhere?” He says with a slight Italian accent. Awful pick-up line, but Stef is interested and just tipsy enough to be entertained. She stops and smiles. He looks at her summer dress, trying to envision her naked. “Nice shoes,” He says, “I designed them.”

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Stef can’t stop humming that new Hillary Duff song ($0.99). It might be that her hair looks fantastic today or that her new Jimmy Choo heels ($580.00) let her strut down the sidewalk like she’s sashaying down the runway at Fashion Week, but she just realized she’s doing alright. Her feet go clickety, click and her ass swivels from side to side following the beat. On their way to work, Hedge Fund lackeys with Thomas Pink shirts ($150.00) and Con Ed repairmen try to envision her naked. After years of dead-end Monster.com “Executive Assistant” jobs ($65,000 Plus Bonuses), Stef is on her way to the first day of the rest of her life. But first, she needs a cup of coffee ($2.49).

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