Monday, January 25, 2010

The Curse of the Jade Roxy

Stupid title, I know. Allow me to properly introduce you to Roxy, my mother's long-dead diva mother, as she really did curse me this weekend.

Roxanne Schwalbe Paver was a born and bred Manhattanite. Grew up on the UES, matriculated at Dalton and NYU. (Dalton is a Gossip Girl—yet coed—esque private school.) She was an only child, and apparently, quite the catch in those days. Before marrying my awesome, also long-departed grandfather Stanley, she was set up with all the power Jews. "Marrying well" has always existed amongst the Heebs, clearly. She dated Schuberts (the theatre family) and Pressmans (Barneys) and the like.

Roxy was a daddy's girl; her mom was apparently pretty batshit, like everyone else in my ancestral lineage. Her dad, Dave, and her mother Tassle (sp)—yes, Tassle, don't ask me—divorced when she was young and Tassle up and moved to Las Vegas of all places. Where she lived and played the slots until she died, which warranted the Green's first family vacay to Vegas, back when the Mirage was THE place to be. That's how bad relations were between Tassle and Roxy—she left it up to Mom and Dad to go deal with her mother's death. Can you imagine?

Anywho, Roxy and Stanley met—much of my abrasive, elitist, ball-busting behavior is in line with Roxy's. So I can imagine my larger-than-life grandfather thinking this ballsy woman was the bee's knees. Apparently he wasn't such a great judge of character. But he liked strong women; I think that's the part of my personality that he most respected and loved. Given that he died when I was 17 and a freshman at Emory, I suppose I'll never know.

Back to Roxy, The Curse and her complete ineptitude at doing anything for herself. It's like she was born with an imaginary assistant or something. So they met and married young and I believe that Roxy was like 20 or 21 when she popped out mom. Clearly, too young, but for Roxy, even worse. The examples are too numerous to name—but the quintessential one is that she had a wake-up call service awaken Mom and Aunt Cheryl for school. Her days in Sarasota were spent at one of two places. John Baldwin when it existed—an upscale retail shop—and when Baldwin folded, McCarver & Moser jewelers. (Those lovely boys ended up opening up a second shop in East Hampton.)

I'm not exaggerating when I say she spent her days there. Customers probably thought she worked there, and was just the laziest salesperson ever. Roxy was a fashion and jewelry addict. A Social by default. While Stanley and his family were working hard to develop Sarasota, Roxy was, well, shopping. And couldn't even be bothered to pick up the kids from school. I think they took the public bus. Seriously.

Some of my favorite Roxy stories: Stanley came home one day, saw a new plant and remarked, "Oh great, now I have to hire a gardener?"

Another one that just came to light: Stanley was away or something and had put Roxy in charge of decorating the house he'd built for her—they were in real estate. Well, according to Mom, she couldn't even lift the phone to hire a decorator. This went on for so long that Stanley had to hire someone for her.

They divorced. She was 31 or 32, with two daughters and I do believe she invented the Latchkey concept of parenting. I must issue a caveat about Roxy—had she been nice to her children, perhaps she would just be a funny character in the fabric of my family's life. Well, she wasn't nice to them. In fact, she was a complete bitch. Never told them she loved them. No physical affection. No cares about them at all.

I think the wake-up call service pretty much sums it up. So they divorced, and whatever the custodial arrangement was, Mom and Cheryl had to adapt to Stanley's playboy lifestyle—golf, boys' nights out etc. But he was still kind, and fabulous and loving and just an all around badass.

Having connected with a cousin on Roxy's side recently, that got Mom talking about some never-before-heard stories.

I was sitting at the breakfast table when I was home recently and Mom casually threw in something about Roxy taking flying lessons post-Stanley split and Mom and Cheryl being her passengers on a prop jet. WTF. First of all, in those days, I don't think flying lessons on private planes were all that common. Certainly not for a thirtysomething Roxy type.

So Roxy decides to take flying lessons and then forces Cheryl and Mom to go in the plane with her while she's at the helm and the instructor is shotgun. Apparently, Mom never got over this one. I cannot even imagine that scene.

"What the hell Mom? I can't believe I've never heard this! Roxy actually did something?!"

"Yeah, I guess it was her post-divorce thing."

"Chanel had probably just come out with an aviator line."

"Or John Baldwin was having a sale on stuff like that."

Seriously people, there is no other explanation.

Okay, time to focus, I actually have an assignment to do today.

Well, all my jewels come from Roxy via Mom. Unfortunately, aside from to-die-for stories, her physical possessions are Roxy's legacy.

Soooo the crazy bitch actually wrote in her will that none of her progeny were ever allowed to sell her baubles; we could remake them at the jeweler, but we could never sell. Or she would curse us. Literally in the will—she'd curse us.

Remember the Jaeger le Coultre watch I found in one of mom's 'junk' bags of Roxy's jewelry? Ugly as sin, but definitely not junk. I had it restored completely by my watch guy on 47th St. Picked it up last month.

"We-ell," Mom says, "I would tell you not to sell it because of the Roxy Curse, but you have Cancer so what else could she do?"

She could, apparently, as Durrett can attest, turn me into a Hot. Fucking. Mess.

Saturday D & I went to the antiques show here to show and tell and get an appraisal from a watch guy on 47th who had a booth. (We never found him; Roxy probably took a hit out on him.)

We walk in and I'm toting two Chanels—one packed with baubles. When you deal with 47th St., often you carry around your stuff in plastic baggies. I took out the bag that contained the le Coultre, the vintage pocketwatch that Sotheby's informed me was once Edith Ringling's (Ringling Bros. founder's wife, based in Sarasota, purchased from Roxy's estate jeweler), a restored Tiffany watch, another pocketwatch that I'd never paid attention to etc. I dropped the fucking bag on the way in on the hard floor of the MB Convention Center where Art Basel is held.

THREE watches shattered. The Ringling—ugh, I'm very upset about that one—face shattered, the le Coultre cover and two other layers of it came apart and the other pocketwatch's face shattered as well. Let me tell you, I have years of experience toting around jewels in Ziplocs. I have never, ever, broken anything.

We hadn't even entered the exhibition hall. I mean, come on, could there be more palpable evidence of the afterlife? Well, I've been cursing the bitch back all weekend. I would sell everything to spite her—if I weren't such a jewelry whore.

So now, after spending $300 on repairs for this stupid ugly le Coultre—and it took my watch guy THREE MONTHS to refurbish it—it's like in layers in a plastic bag. And the thing is only worth about $800 to $1k. I was *such* a mess that every jewelry booth we visited chastised me for my jewelry-toting technique and one watch guy even repacked everything for me. Another came running after me cause I also was hoping to get a battery for my Tank, and I'd dropped a screw/post.

Oy vey!! So that was my weekend escapade. Thank you Roxy!

I cannot wait to hear more Roxy stories from my cousin when I see him in NYC next month. Maybe I can get to the bottom of the childhood that fucked her up beyond belief.

I did just see Michael Caine at Publix, so maybe this will be a better week than last. Ta and happy, healthy Monday. Let's hope for a curse-free several days.

Stanley, his second wife Sara and Roxy a couple of years before they died.

Editor's note: Jan. 26. Tassle was Sara's mother! Roxy's was named Jeanne. Jeez, proof of just how little we know about Roxy's mom. Mom told me; I never would've even remembered.