Wednesday Martin’s upcoming memoir, Primates of Park Avenue, purports to offer a glimpse into the rarefied world of Upper East Side motherhood. Martin, who has previously published a book on stepmothers, bases this one on her own experience of “embedding” with the stay-at-home moms in the region “west of Lexington Avenue, north of 63rd Street and south of 94th Street.”
Martin has already riled up readers with an excerpt that ran in Sunday’s New York Times and included her now-infamous claim that the wives of Wall Streeters receive a yearly “wife bonus” for good behavior.
Here are five other provocative claims from her new book, out on June 2.
1. Parents hire “playdate consultants” to teach toddlers how to interact with their peers–since by the age of four or five, they’ve apparently been so over-scheduled with enrichment classes that they can play the violin and speak basic Mandarin but don’t know how to have fun with other children. Plus, they’ll be evaluated in playdate-like scenarios during the admissions process for exclusive Kindergartens.
2. Upper East Side stay-at-home moms see their children as status symbols, and as proof of that, Martin offers this detail: “Upper East Side mothers all wore tiny medallions engraved with their children’s initials around their necks. And stacking rings, one for each child, on their fingers.”
3. Upper East Side mothers supposedly swap tips on where to hire a “black-market” disabled guide to take their families around Disney World and skip the lines.
4. Martin writes that her son came home from preschool one day beaming that he’d been invited to a playdate on a classmate’s private plane. Martin is confused, until her nanny explains “that everybody at the school had a private plane and all the kids had been discussing the relative merits of their particular planes when our son said we didn’t have one, and Tessa took pity on him and invited him to play on hers.”
5. Martin estimates the average cost of an Upper East Side mother’s beauty maintenance at about $95,000 per year, for expenses like seasonal wardrobe updates, makeup consultations and quarterly Botox. Then she discovers, via a Barney’s salesman trying to sell her a pair of uncomfortable $600 shoes, a bizarre procedure supposedly popular among Upper East Side socialites. “Hadn’t I heard, he laughed, of the shots to numb your feet, or part of them, so you could do a whole night in killer heels? Apparently there were podiatrists who acted as enablers of women with high-heel fixations here and in Hollywood, and they could fix me up–or rather, shoot me up–for a price.”
Martin appears to have relocated to the Upper West Side.