The van der Luyden method and sexy food

The first “food porn” I ever saw was in the movie The Age of Innocence. The movie is a series of opulent pictures. Seductive, sensual tableaus of food and flowers are the sexy the characters stifle. Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis lead this Scorcese-directed movie about the ultra-wealthy in 1870’s New York City. This is the high society set who summer in Newport, have footmen, cooks, maids and rules, lots of rules.  Pfeiffer’s character, Madam Olenska, is unconventional and independent. Born into a rich New York elite family, she married a Count and got the hell away to France.

The movie starts with her reappearance in New York, because, as rumor has it, the Count treated her badly and she bolted.

Is the movie about how her old friends welcome her back with kindness and open arms? 'course not.  

This is like high school with loads of money. These people raise cruelty to an art form.

These mean girls (and boys) treat her like a castaway.  If there’s anything idle rich snobs like more than being snobby, it’s scapegoating one of their own to cement their self-righteous authority. (Eye-roll)

The higher you go in society, the more savage it gets. 

We're talking about people who replace the white gloves they wore to the opera with a new pair of white gloves for the ball after the opera. So... petty, too.  Yet, every high school has a principal. Enter the van der Luydens.  This is the family called on to "tie-break" when all these snobs can’t agree on who to persecute, excommunicate, crucify...whatever. 

“The van der Luydens dwelled above the city’s families in a kind of super terrestrial-twilight. Archer appealed to their exquisitely-refined sense of tribal order.”

Daniel Day-Lewis plays Archer. He's engaged, but crushing hard on the scandal-dusted Madam Olenska, (I'm telling you... it's high school.) He makes a beeline to the van der Luydens, pleading with them to intervene so Madame Olenska can sit at the cool girl's table and attend their snobby parties where he can pine for her across drawing rooms all over New York. The van der Luydens hear the plight of Madam Olenska and decide she should be in the clique. They invite her to attend their own party as a way of saying to all of New York Society: “We approve of her, so you better start opening your ballroom doors to Madam O… else we’ll unleash our (ultra-snobby) wrath on you.” #TribeRules

In one sweet scene (there aren't many), Daniel Day-Lewis, who admires his crushes' independent courage, but isn't equal to it, tries to explain to Madam Olenska how much social power the van der Luyden’s wield and that being invited to their party is to be “accepted” into New York Society.  He says, 

“The van der Luyden’s are the most powerful influence in New York Society…they very seldom receive [guests]”

Cool Countess O. replies, “Perhaps that’s the reason for their influence. They make themselves so rare.” What he loves about the Countess is she doesn't need these people. It makes her irresistible to him. Neediness. It's a giant turnoff. Eradicate and excommunicate neediness from your job hunt, your career, your Girl Scout Cookie sales.

Don't be aloof. Be discriminating and you'll find the tribe can't savage you quite so easily. (Yes. Fake it at first if you have to.) This is how Edith Wharton described NY high society:

“They all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world. The real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs.”

Just like job hunting and office politics, no? There a few things you NEVER want to do or say when you're job hunting. Certain words you nevah, evah want in your resumé, cover letter or profile. There’s a simple method to “making yourself rare” like the van der Luyden’s of old New York. Erase neediness and you're more likely to get a seat where you want one and the meanies can't touch you.   The white gloves are off! (so I can wash my hands!) Courtney

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