The Date: Jan. 8, 2007
The Venue: Hearst Tower, 44th-floor conference room
The Drinks: Betty-tinis -- booze-free fruit cocktails with a cranberry base and a pomegranate twist for some ethnic flavor. Also the standard iced tea, water and coffee (it was a luncheon, after all).
The Food: A tasty sampling of Latin cuisine worthy of appearing on the Suarez family's own kitchen table in Queens -- vegetable empanada with jicama, orange and red onions; pan-seared chicken breast with rice and beans and a delicious mole sauce; and, for dessert, the best pun Freeloader's heard all year -- Apple Brown Betty a la "Mode." (Bear in mind that the year is only eight days old.)
The Swag: A "Be Ugly" T-shirt and bracelet from ABC, the February issue of Cosmo Girl and the piece de resistance, a Betty Suarez paper face mask, complete with eyeholes. These all came wrapped in a clear plastic bag with a bright pink ribbon, which Freeloader proudly carried on the streets of New York in the name of Betty and all things Cosmo.
Not just anyone can lure Freeloader out on the town in broad daylight. But when Cosmo Girl's invite to its "Ugly Betty" luncheon with America Ferrera crossed our desk, we canceled our daily YouTube appointment and hopped on over to the Hearst Tower, where positive female values, self-esteem and buttonless elevators awaited.
Having made it safely to the 44th floor (Freeloader only does heights when they have a Manhattan view), we were greeted with a tray of Betty-tinis to help ease us into the lunch hour. Naturally, we were bummed to learn the concoctions were devoid of liquor, but contained a tasty mix of cranberry and pomegranate just the same. A conspicuous lack of hibiscus-flower extract, however, was well noted.
Shortly after we plunged into our well-planned trio of Latin food, Cosmo Girl Managing Editor Susan Schultz unveiled the magazine's February cover with Ferrera as its poster girl, declaring it the "unofficial self-esteem issue."
Since it coincided with the launch of ABC's "Be Ugly" campaign, pushing both "Betty" and anti-aesthetic beauty worldviews, Ferrera couldn't help but point out the issue's unfortunate placement of the tagline "I was forced to be a prostitute" underneath her Betty headshot. Ferrera herself is no eyesore in person -- dressed in a mustard-yellow peacoat draped over a fetching black cocktail dress with a hoop skirt and killer pumps. Had she been Beyonce, we would've circle-snapped, but instead we opted to clap politely and keep the whistling and catcalls to a bare minimum during her cute speech about inner beauty.
Despite a lack of booze, Freeloader was glad we decided to venture out among the working for a good daytime party. Good food, good celeb spottings ... and we got a nifty mask to show off to all our friends next Halloween. Ah, heck, why wait 'til October? You go, girl.