The Debutante Divorcee

BOOK: The Debutante Divorcee
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The Debutante Divorcée

A Novel

Plum Sykes

For Toby

Contents

1

Lost-Husbands Edition

2

The Consolation of a Fabulous Husband

3

Legendary Lovers

4

Professional Friends

5

Friends You Can’t Count On

6

Husband-hunting

7

The Divorce Shower

8

Paranoia Party

9

The UnGoogle-able Man

10

Gorgeous West Village Wives

11

Socialite Baby

12

Marci’s Meltdown

13

Wedding Anniversary F

14

Mr. Moscow

15

The Power Christening

16

Christmas Card Envy

17

Jailbait Make Out

18

Valley of the Dolls, the Sequel

19

The See-and-Be-Seen-Funeral

20

MOMA Madness

21

The Disappearing Husband

22

Glamela

23

Revenge Is Iran

24

Silver Linings

25

Honeymoon—For Real

 

1
Lost-Husbands Edition

M
arried girls in New York these days put almost as much effort into losing husbands as they once did into finding them. It’s not uncommon for husbands to be mislaid almost as soon as the honeymoon begins. This is a particular hazard in locations like Capri or Harbour Island, where the glamour quotient of the early-morning beach gang rivals that of a front row at a Valentino couture show. Some husbands, like Jamie Bellangere, get forgotten as early as Barbados airport, an airline terminal so social it is considered perilous for new spouses to pass through even a whole year after marriage. As the twenty-six-and-a-half-year-old former Mrs. Jamie Bellangere always says in her defense,
of course
she forgot to get Jamie into the hotel’s courtesy car! The concierge from Sandy Lane had just called her with a message from the Douglas Blunketts saying that they expected her on “the tub” for dinner at eight! (“the tub” being Blunkett slang for their 150-foot sailing yacht,
Private Lives
). Meanwhile, that lethal little airstrip in Mustique is even more notorious than Barbados: marriage vows tend to slip a new bride’s mind right at the bamboo baggage carousel. This is usually because Mick Jagger has just invited her to dinner, which tends to happen the second a new wife’s plane has landed.

 

The social demographics of Careyes, Mexico, are such that there is no place better suited to the exotic pleasures of the Divorce Honeymoon. A sexually scandalous vacation is the newfound, but nevertheless inalienable, privilege of the debutante divorcées—New York’s young, social, newly unwed girls. It must be spent in a spot where the atmosphere is uplifting, the views are spectacular, acupuncture and exercise facilities abound, and conversation topics are lighter than a soufflé. Popular subjects range from “How far did you swim today?” “Did you get to the island?” to “Can I wear white jeans for dinner?” and “Are you invited to the Goldsmiths’ for New Year?” There are so many parties every night it’s literally impossible to stay home unless you are the one throwing the party. Then, everyone’s permanently drunk because the only thing anyone drinks all day are miceladas—a make out friendly mix of beer, lemonade, and tequila. To be blunt, Careyes is the ideal spot for the gorgeous divorcée because she can have sex
with a different hedge fund manager every night if she wishes.

 

I met Lauren Blount on the beach on Labor Day. You know how it is in Careyes. You’re best friends in five minutes flat because you’re both wearing Pucci bikinis. Lauren was one week into her Divorce Honeymoon, and she told me everything in a minute. Still, that didn’t mean I really knew a thing about her.

“The day of my divorce was sort of glamorous, actually,” said Lauren from under the wide-brimmed black sunhat she had found in her canvas Hermès tote. “Like the hat? Yves Saint Laurent gave it to my mom in 1972.”

“It’s gorgeous,” I said.

Lauren’s beach look was impossibly chic. Her lithe, petite body was a delicious cocoa brown, which set off to perfection the chocolate and turquoise geometric print of her bandeau bikini. Her toes were manicured an understated flesh pink, and her brunette locks, gleaming like espresso beans, fell in loose waves around her shoulders and grazed the sand when she moved. Six long strands of tiny seed pearls dropped gracefully from her delicate throat, and she had three gold bangles that she’d bought in the souk in Marrakesh pushed up around her forearm.

“Mama would murder me if she knew I was wearing her pearls on the beach,” said Lauren, noticing me looking at them. “The saltwater ruins them. But I just
felt very
Tender Is the Night
when I woke up today, and I had to wear them. I’m totally into 1920s Riviera chic, aren’t you?”

“I adore it,” I agreed.

“God, it’s so hot. There’s too many people here,” sighed Lauren, gazing along Playa Rosa. There were maybe three people on the beach. “Why don’t you come up to the house?”

“I’d love to,” I said, getting up from my lounger.

“We can have lunch and hang out all afternoon. The Casa’s got the most divine sunken living room. It’s to die,” she said, gathering up her tote and slipping on a pair of gold leather thong sandals.

 

It’s generally agreed in Careyes that without a sunken drawing room one
would
die, socially. Not a soul will visit if you don’t have one. If you do, it must simultaneously offer shade from a partial, immaculately thatched roof while being open to the breezes of the ocean, even if that means the Moorish antiques are eaten away at an alarming rate by sea salt.

Casa Papa, as Lauren nicknamed her father’s house, is a whitewashed, sun-bleached Mexican castle with a bright blue pool washing around it like a moat. When we arrived, Lauren led me through the house and out into the sunken drawing room. That second, a maid dressed crisply in a blue-and-white-striped uniform—she would have looked more at home on the Upper East Side—appeared with a turquoise
chiffon robe in her hand that Lauren threw straight over her bikini. Moments later another maid arrived bearing a tray filled with just-made quesadillas and guacamole, glass plates, and candy-pink linen napkins.

“Mmmmm! Thank you, Maria,” said Lauren. “
Puede hacer nos el favor de traer dos limonadas heladas
?”


Si, señorita
,” nodded Maria.

Maria bustled about setting a low lacquered table, then disappeared inside to track down the lemonade.

“God, this is nice,” I said, throwing my beach bag on the floor and flopping onto a deep sofa while Lauren curled up in a wicker chair. In the center of the room the huge red trunk of an ancient, twisted
candelabro
cactus grew up to the ceiling. From where we were sitting we could just make out a tiny figure sunbathing on the terrace of the house opposite.

“That’s my cousin, Tinsley Bellangere,” said Lauren, squinting. “I can’t
believe
she’s lying out like that—so dangerous in this heat. And after her whole family died of skin cancer! She’s had all her freckles lasered off. Tinsley’s on her divorce honeymoon too, which is nice for me. I call her Miss Mini-Marriage. She was married to Jamie less than three days, which is something of an achievement, no? Anyway, do you still want to hear about the divorce day?”

“Absolutely,” I replied. Who could resist? There’s nothing like hearing about another girl’s love life to make three hours pass in three seconds.

“I got my divorce papers signed. I guess that was
three weeks ago now. The biggest thing in the divorce was the dog, Boo Boo. That took months. I got him. Anyway, that night I decided to celebrate with Milton Holmes—he’s the family decorator, and my best friend, sort of. Milton was obsessed with going to the private room at Harry’s Downtown, even though it was like, August twelfth and I knew there wouldn’t be a soul there. I was dressed head to toe in black frayed Lanvin with my great grandmother’s ivory barrette in my hair. I thought I was absolutely it—but when I look back it’s like I was dressing for a funeral—oh, thank you so much,” said Lauren as Maria returned with a jug of iced lemonade and two tall glasses. “Sorry. God, I’m going to have to have a cigarette.”

Lauren delved into her tote and pulled out a little green crocodile case the size of a lipstick holder. The silver-lined box contained two “platinums,” as she calls them—two Marlboro Ultra Lights. She lit one, then left it untouched on the side of the ashtray.

“So here I am in my divorcée look, and Milton was like, ‘We
have
to be upstairs,
everyone’s
upstairs,’ when actually there wasn’t a soul up there, except Beyoncé or Lindsay Lohan, or some other girl of the minute everyone’s so tired of they don’t even count. Well, actually, I
love
Lindsay Lohan again. I want to be Lindsay Lohan most of the time, don’t you?”

Lauren paused and waited for my answer. This was obviously a serious question.

“Wouldn’t it be exhausting to be Lindsay Lohan
every day,
though?” I said. That many changes of sunglasses must be punishing.

“I’d love the attention. Anyway, I digress. Milton and I went upstairs, and I ordered strawberry tequila after strawberry tequila and…” Lauren paused and looked around, as though making sure no one else was listening. Then she whispered, “…and next thing I know, this complete stranger sent over a glass of vintage champagne.”

“Who was he?” I asked.

“Well. It was…you’re not going to believe it. It was Sanford Berman.”

“No,” I gasped.

“Totally. And he was celebrating his third company going public or something crazy like that, but I had no idea who he was because I stopped reading the papers recently so I don’t have to read about my divorce. Milton was flipping, Sanford’s his total icon. Milton said, ‘Everyone thinks Rupert Murdoch’s huge, but Sanford’s so huge
he
owns Rupert Murdoch.’”

Lauren’s cell phone started beeping. She picked it up and turned it off.

“It’s him. It’s
always
him,” said Lauren ever so blasé.

“You should have answered. I don’t mind,” I said.

“Actually I need a break from him for now. Here’s the thing. He’s getting way too obsessed with me. Sanford is seventy-one and a half years old. I can’t date an antique. Sure, I like antiques, but not as boyfriends. So, where was I?” asked Lauren.

“The drink from Sanford came over,” I reminded her.

“Well, I downed that glass of champagne, and then Sanford himself came over and started talking to me. He was so charming—in the way that old things are. He thought it was very ‘modern’ that I was partying like that on my divorce day. So I was like, ‘Ok, let’s get another round of shots.’ I can’t really remember the night well at all,” she said, with a coy expression, “except it turns out Sanford’s married, but he’s asking if he can take me home. So I let him give me a ride. On the way he asked me what I do, so I told him about how I occasionally buy and sell one-off estate jewelry, and he said he wanted to buy some for his wife. I thought that was sweet.”

Sanford had called Lauren at 8
A.M.
the next morning, asking to view the jewels. He showed up at her place at half past ten that night. They hung out until midnight, and finally Lauren asked Sanford if he wanted to see the jewels.

“He said to me, ‘Not really. I just think you’re amusing.’ Can you
believe
?” said Lauren, her eyes widening cartoonishly to exaggerate the point. “God, I have to actually
smoke
a cigarette at this moment in the tale,” she added, starting over with another. “Then he started sending his driver over every morning with the
Wall Street Journal
, a latte, and a warm croissant from Patisserie Claude, at which point I decided being a newly
unwed sucks a lot less than being a newlywed. God, my divorce honeymoon is the
best,
” she sighed contentedly as she sunned herself. “I
love
being divorced.”

 

It would be impossible
not
to love being divorced if you were Lauren Blount, of the Chicago Hamill Blounts, who pretty much invented Chicago, depending on who you ask. (There’s the Marshall Field’s camp and the Hamill Blount camp, and never the twain shall dine in the Chicago Racquet Club together, if you get my meaning.) The rumor is that the Hamill Blounts own more art than the Guggenheims, more real estate than McDonald’s, and that Lauren’s mother’s jewelry vaults are the reason Colombia is running low on emeralds.

It had only been three weeks since Lauren’s divorce, but ever since, she’d been going out like crazy. It amused her to dress up in her Chanel couture rehearsal-dinner dress, which was very heavy on the white Lesage lace, and one of her three engagement rings. She was instantly nominated for the Best Dressed List but brushed it off as a silly joke. However, it was actually the consensus among the Pastis set that Lauren truly deserved the honor. (Most of the time a sickening combination of admiration and envy makes the girls who hang out at Pastis physically unable to admit that
anyone deserves to be on the BDL, especially if they were in the same class at Spence.)

Lauren oozed rich-girl chic. She wasn’t extremely tall, but because she was so delightfully proportioned, with tiny fine wrists and arms, she could pull off virtually anything. Her exquisite legs, which drew so much envy among her set, “reflect years of private ballet instruction,” she always said. She looked rather like a cleaned-up, freshly laundered version of her icon—the young Jane Birkin: she had the long chestnut locks, the eye-grazing fringe, and the year-round tan (easy when there’s a family home in every resort from Antigua to Aspen). When casually dressed she exuded a natural glamour that was low on bling and high on class. Her daytime uniform consisted of long, skinny pants from Marni, little lace blouses by Yves Saint Laurent, and minuscule, shrunken leather jackets from Rick Owens. If she wore vintage, it had to be Ossie Clarke or Dior, and she would fly to London especially to stock up on the best things at the Dover Street Market.

Dressing up, though, was Lauren’s real obsession. If you dropped by mid-afternoon, she was just as likely to be clad in a cerise organza cocktail frock by Christian Lacroix as she was to be in her Pilates leotard (a hangover from the ballerina days). Her collection of ball gowns—Balmain couture, McQueen couture, original Givenchy couture—was a matter of some envy among New York’s social set and was stored
in a climate-controlled walk-in closet that was the size of a small studio appartment. Gowns were “gifted” to Lauren on a weekly basis by everyone from Oscar de la Renta to Peter Som, but she always returned them, however beautiful. She felt it was tacky not to pay for clothes, saying, “I give to charity. I don’t take it.” Her great weakness, though, was real jewels, particularly when they were most inappropriate—there was nothing that amused Lauren more than wearing a priceless Indian ruby in bed.

 

“Maybe I should invite Tinsley over here so she can get some shade. She’s crazy to be sunbathing like that,” said Lauren a little later. “It must be the divorce. Tinsley thinks she’s having fun, but she’s getting more deranged by the second. She’s changing bikinis seven times a day now, which has got to be a sign of mental instability. I love her, and I want her to be OK, not getting chemo.”

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