I’ve always been intrigued by the fabulous life of the Upper East Side (UES) in NYC (read my NYC post to find out why) and I decided to finally read this book on our trip (Kerala-Emirates-Italy) a few months ago. Wednesday Martin is an author and social researcher who moved to the UES of NYC in 2004. She wrote a book called Primates of Park Avenue (released in June 2015 and apparently MGM is making a movie) which talks about her brutal and shocking experiences of the UES and how she coerced herself into the natural habitat of the UES women (particularly stay at home filthy rich Mom’s).
Here are 5 rituals of the UES women I learned which I found to be shocking (but fascinating):
Everyone has heard of the infamous Hermès Birkin bag (named after Jane Birkin) which ranges from $11,000 to $150,000 depending on the type of leather used and the size of the bag. There’s also a waiting list for this bag and you have to know someone to be able to get it. It’s a symbol of status for these obscenely wealthy wives of the UES. The thing I found shocking was one of the women actually developed arthritis after years of carrying this bag on her wrist (face-up). I guess it’s really true what they say- no pain, no gain.
On the UES, the right nursery school apparently gets your child into the right private school and right IVY league school. The craziest thing I learned from the book- your child can actually be born in the wrong month. “You go to the Upper East Side, and everyone will be heavily pregnant in the same month, because the time to have a baby is October or November,” Martin says. “Those are the good birthdays.” This is so that your child can begin school at the oldest age possible which have shown to have benefits- it is called redshirting.
Another bizarre thing I learned is that your child is supposed to be busier than an adult having a full time job. It starts with the 3 month old babies taking classes at Diller-Quaile School of Music. After that, it’s being chosen into the best nursery school which of course you have to know someone and your child has to pass the test where they observe how your child interacts (which there are also classes for). Once they have progressed to private school, they’re supposed to have separate tutors for every subject and hire someone to make sure your kid is well rounded- even the Mom’s are supposed to take classes on how to do this.
Another shocking things I learned is that there are still adult mean girls and it’s just like high school. Nobody is accepted into the group without the ‘Queen B Mom’s’ approval which requires you to have a tan, botox, hair and nails primped up for school drop off, a Birkin bag of course and the latest fashion line wardrobes. If you don’t have all of this, then your child will never get invited to a playdate and the Mom’s will ignore you as if you don’t exist. It’s all a buy in into the most elite social circle in Manhattan.
And then the most bizarre thing of all- wife bonuses from their very own husbands. This would be outlined in the pre-nup and unlike a salary, it would be determined based on how well a woman managed the budget throughout the year and if the kids got into the good schools, etc. This was a definite must have bonus since if you did not get it, then you had absolutely no independence as a woman since all the women depended on their husbands for money. Also, this isn’t a couple thousand here or there- it ranges from a whopping $150,000 to $500,000 a year!