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Cabbages and Kings

The 721 Club

By Laurince D. Savadove

Four days ago, on a last-minute search for gifts suitable for presentation to young ladies, this writer and a friend were circulating among the haute monde at Bonwit Teller's. Having little success in our search, we drifted over to a corner where a quarter, dressed in bright red, was crooning carols into a microphone. That is where we saw the small black door labelled "721 Club--This Way."

Nothing our querying looks, a salsegirl explained that the 721 Club is where men go to buy Christmas gifts for women. "It is the Club's cocktail hour now," the salesgirl added, and no further incentive was needed.

We went through the black door into a room with plush, wine-colored carpets and tapestry. Piles of under-wear and nightgowns, black lace, pearl sets, and perfume phials adorned the walls, the mahogany counters, and the shelves. Gentlemen were sitting at marble-topped tables, sipping drinks brought to them by little men in white coats. Salesladies were gliding all around.

We took our seats by a window and watched the rain outside until one of the little men in white appeared, took our order and reappeared with two high-balls. Firmly clutching our glasses, we turned our attention to a saleslady in blue mink oozing over to the table on our right.

"Is this, the shade of her eyes, sir?" she asked the broad, blue-suited gentleman. "Not sure," he replied. "Had a light tan mink in mind, to go with her hair." "Well then," the saleslady replied in a coy tone of voice, "why not buy her both? Everyone gives mink coats for Christmas, but not many men give two." The man thought this over.

(My friend jabbed me in the ribs. "I don't want a mink coat," he groaned. "All I want is suggestions for a ten dollar present; let's get out of here."

Just then a man to the left of us called over another saleslady. "Got anything bigger?" he shouted, brandishing a one-ounce bottle of Chanel No. 5. "Don't want her to think I'm cheap. Does this come in pint sizes?"

The saleslady disappeared behind a curtain at one end of the room and produced a pint of Chanel No.5. The man sniffed approvingly and ordered two of them packaged in green and red boxes "to make it seem more like Christmas."

After receiving the check for all that perfume, the saleslady looked pointedly at us; we returned to our contemplation of the rain outside. A sudden disturbance saved the situation: a confused looking woman had entered the black door, interrupting a group of men who had just finished telling a dirty joke to one of the salesladies. The confused woman was ushered out amid black stares.

The little man in white reappeared to see if he could refresh our by now watery highballs, and a young executive at a nearby table yelled at us to drink up. Noticing that the salesladies had disappeared, we took our chances, rose, and slipped back through the black door. It was but a short trip to the warmth and hominess of Filene's Basement.

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