Day in the Life

A social columnist’s lot is not a happy one

The Globe and Mail Saturday, December 2, 1989

Some people may labour under the misapprehension that a social columnist’s normal routine consists of the following:

9:00 a.m. Breakfast in bed while opening morning mail.

9:30. Dictation of correspondence to secretary while glancing over appointments for the day.

10:00. Hair appointment.

11:00. Manicure and massage.

Noon. Lunch at Fenton’s followed by a fashion show at the Gardiner Museum.

3:30 p.m. Aerobics and dancersize classes.

4:30. Gown fitting at Holt Renfew.

6:30 to 8:30. Dropping in to various chi-chi cocktail parties around town.

9:00. A late dinner and drinks with (a) the Mulroneys, (b) the Petersons, (c) Princess Diana when she is in town.

Midnight. Final round of late-night parties until deposited at my door by chauffeur-driven limousine.

I’d like to set the record straight. Herewith an outline of a more typical day.

7 a.m. Telephone rings. Did I or did I not receive an invitation to the fifties sock hop at the Royal Canadian Curling Club on Broadview Avenue? Will I be gracing the hop with my presence? Why not?

7:30. Husband goes to front door to retrieve morning paper. Is greeted there by three giggling witches and broomstick heralding upcoming Wizard of Oz gala. They leave him with broom.

9:00. Arrive at dentist’s office in North Toronto to get my son’s braces tightened. Work at final touches for my column due down at The Globe at 10:30. Computer dies and wipes out three columns. I cry.

9:30. My first congratulatory call of the day from a previously respectable woman I had interviewed for a piece appearing in today’s paper. The dialogue goes something like this. Dumb columnist: Hi. How did you like the story? Irate caller: You f—ing idiot. Wait till I get my f—ing hands on you. Protestations from columnist. More obscenities from caller. I hang up. Phone rings incessantly.

10:30. Put in load of laundry, including a well-worn polyester dress that has seen better days in case I decide to cover an evening event.

12:30 p.m. Go to kitchen and make myself a sandwich and a glass of milk. Hear commotion at door. Peer out. Large black perambulator sitting at doorstep. With trepidation open door and look under blankets. Breathe sigh of relief. No baby. Instead, pair of baby booties accompanied by invitation to a shower. Retrieve invitation; furtively wheel baby carriage to corner for next day’s garbage pick-up.

2:30. Busy writing, I refuse to answer doorbell. Livid courier, who has caught sight of me through window hunched over computer, circles house banging on all windows. I crawl into hall where I can’t be seen, curl into a ball on the rug. Phone rings fourteen times. I laugh hysterically.

5:00. Drag along protesting son to a cocktail party at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Wander around hoping someone, anyone, will talk to us. Strike up several conversations with strangers who look at me oddly. Pretend to hold a fascinating conversation with my son who gets bored and pulls me over to the hors d’oeuvres on the sidelines which he devours shamelessly. We tour the gallery and look at pictures, then go home.

6:00. Open bag of mail delivered by courier from The Globe and Mail, most of which consists of dull press releases or juicy titbits too gossipy for serious upscale newspaper. Also one fan letter and five critical ones. Keep the fan letter. Deposit rest in large green garbage bag, which I take outside and put in pram.

7:00. Pull on polyester dress and drag my daughter along to an auction. Despite said dress, organizers of gala, thinking we’re two girls out for a night on the town, try to pick us up.

7:45. Call from my mother who warns me not to get a swelled head from all the attention I am getting.

8:30. Climb into hot bath, forgetting to take phone off hook. It rings four times. Will I be an auction item? Will I hand out free chicken legs in front of Honest Ed’s? Will I serve in a soup kitchen? Will I donate money to the University of Western Ontario?

11:00. Crawl into bed. Doorbell rings insistently. Husband groans and puts pillow over his head. Stones hit the window. I resignedly open window. “Invitation for a native people’s gala tomorrow night,” courier yells up. Not wanting to offend one of our visible minorities, I descend stairs and answer door. Before climbing back into bed, go over to close window. Hear rustling in the bushes. Peering out, discover courier making off with pram and garbage bag.