January 10, 2014
GSTAAD—Although no longer a regular habit, extended benders now turn me into a sort of magnetic field that picks up pearls as though they are iron filings. They are insightful jewels, not the kind that tarts hang around their necks to alert the viewer of their availability. Take for example a description of a couple I know by a man I have never met but had read about. It was 5AM last week, a heavy snow was blanketing the place, and I had lost my balance and fallen in the bathroom, breaking the glass of a picture of my then 18-year-old first wife Cristina. A memoir by Dan Menaker had also crashed down with my body and while I was recovering my senses and coordination I began to leaf through it: “For some time now Tina and Harry put me ever so slightly in mind of the duke and the king in Huckleberry Finn, floating down the Mississippi, affecting noble lineage, and fleecing townspeople right and left with their cons and impostures.”
Now, there’s no use lying. Yes, I was dead drunk after a party I had given in my house, but after the third reading of the above paragraph aposiopesis set in. How the hell did this Menaker man get it so spot on? Not in a hundred years could I equal his devastating perception of those two, Tina Brown and Harry Evans. So I clipped the page and after a brief sleep and before coffee I had copied the passage down and here it is for you, dear readers. See what I mean by feeling magnetic when under the influence and picking up pearls?
It got better with the King of Greece three nights later. He was sober and I was not and I was giving him a tour of my place, showing him old Greek photographs of my grandfather who was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and also Prime Minister. They are old and yellowed, but the King recognized most of the players. When one particular name came up I used the F-word and apologized immediately. “Do you know the etymology of the word ‘fuck’?” asked the King. I did not. “It is an acronym for Fornication Under Consent of the King,” said my King. Another pearl, but he could have been pulling my leg, which unfortunately is not a hollow one.
Some 35 years ago, when I was an Esquire magazine columnist, I used to come back to the office after lunch tipsy and giggling with Jon Bradshaw, an American writer who was such an Anglophile he remained in love with Anna Wintour although she openly had gone off with another buddy of mine, a squash player. Bradshaw affected cynical mannerisms, a curmudgeonly scribe complaining about crude American habits as opposed to refined British ones. It used to drive me nuts and I got my own back while trying out a brand new invention called the Xerox machine. Bending over it was an extremely attractive posterior of the female persuasion, and a rather plump one to boot. “Stand aside for an important writer,” I said drunkenly but jokingly. The plump posterior turned and she was beautiful. In fact she was a young intern from Yale whom I recognized as the actress Jodie Foster. (She had put on weight on purpose to keep horny Yalies off her case.) We laughed and exchanged pleasantries. I then went back to my desk and told Bradshaw that the young intern thought him dishy and he should do something about it. (Bradshaw was as desperate to fornicate with consent from the King as I was but could also be very foolish in his Anglophilia.) “She’s very American,” I said. “Not interested,” said the curmudgeon. “Only if she lost some weight and if she were English.” Well, by the time Jodie came out, Bradshaw had dropped dead playing tennis, in Los Angeles of all places, trying to write a screenplay of his book of the torch singer Libby Holman. Jodie Foster would have been perfect in the role.