High life

In praise of chastity

12 June 2021

9:00 AM

12 June 2021

9:00 AM

New York

It’s party time in the Bagel, or at least private party time. Yours truly is an extra man nowadays as my wife and I have been separated by pandemic restrictions for six months. Alexandra is in London, quarantining after visiting two little blond things in Austria for my fourth grandchild Theodora’s first birthday. I am doing dinner parties non-stop in the Bagel, as if I were a gaywalker back in the 1970s.

Actually, I’ve been seeing a lot of old friends who have thrown dinners for Lita and George Livanos. We have mostly been the same crowd, as New York society types have gone the way of wooden sailing boats and tennis players wearing all whites. And speaking of tennis, Naomi Osaka’s depression has everyone chipping in about how tough it is to have made 55 million big ones last year and have to face the press after a tennis match. It’s simply nerves, dear, and all athletes suffer from them. But not all athletes make 55 million and have become poster girls against racism. The struggle to win on clay should not bring on depression and surrender. But perhaps her handlers are right. She is more well known now than she was before all this.


But I got sidetracked. What I miss most here in the Bagel are feminine women, but I’ve met one whose name is Peggy. Peggy is very attractive and a poet. She is well bred but not inbred, and married, something that raised my hopes when I was first introduced to her. I told her that Panting for Peggy is the title of my next bestseller, but that went down like an anti-BLM peroration in Portland, Oregon. I met her through my closest friend in the Bagel, Michael Mailer, who is now known as Ben, short for Benedict Arnold. Unlike those cheapskate legislators in Philadelphia who wouldn’t pay the bravest and most aggressive American general fighting the Brits, I had Michael and Peggy to a lavish dinner and got zilch for my trouble. Worse, he told her that I had been happily married for 49 years to someone very attractive, and that I was an old man. I now feel like ‘Gentleman Johnny’ Burgoyne who surrendered to Horatio Gates in Saratoga, where Benedict Arnold had excelled and been wounded. Burgoyne had arrived ready to give battle with wife and mistress in tow, plus 40 trunks. Poor Taki arrived at his own dinner with nothing but hope and was cheated of victory by the banality of Ben’s betrayal.

Never mind. Nothing pleases me more than female beauty, in which charm and femininity are all important. Today’s so-called stars have a sterile side to their physical beauty, and some are downright ugly. The only three female actresses I die for nowadays are Dakota Johnson, Lily James and Emma Stone. All three have imperfections: Dakota’s slightly crooked teeth, Emma’s pop-eyes, Lily’s lower jawline, but it’s the imperfections that make a woman truly beautiful and different. We’ve come a long way from Pandora and Eve, who were the first two to bring devastation and immense evil on mankind. The third one is called #MeToo, but she’s too unfair, ugly and hysterical to include in the discussion about Dakota, Emma, Lily and Peggy. Some fool wrote that chastity and beauty in women are incompatible; I say that that combination is unfortunate but definitely compatible. Nothing turns a man on more than a chaste woman, and every man who values chastity sees himself as a future exception to the rule. The Greek word ‘ego’ comes to mind. But I want to get back to Peggy, whom I don’t know well at all.

She’s either 28 or 31, but looks younger. I don’t think she rejected me on account of age. Had she been a gold digger, I would have added ten years and told her I was 94. Ruskin proposed to 18-year-old Kathleen Olander when he was 68. She turned him down because he was already very ill. I’m not at all ill, and I didn’t propose marriage — in fact, I didn’t propose anything at all. I am aware of the whisperer, the one who followed Romans around and reminded them not to get too full of themselves, lest they suffer from a case of hubris. Harvey Weinstein, rotting away in a prison, with 22 years to go, should have listened to the whisperer. I’ve seen only the pitiful side of Weinstein, the one where he begs women to go to bed with him, the one where he promises big roles and tries to be their best friend. I have not witnessed the gruesome side, where he attacked and raped women. And I have to be careful when mentioning Harvey. He is still wanted in Los Angeles for more alleged rapes.

But here we are. Members of the House of Lords are forced to watch a filmed scenario on how to behave with women. Can you believe this crap? They, whoever they are, should be showing films on how to make a marriage last — like Taki’s — and not permit husbands to cast wives aside. My 49-year-old marriage should be the template. After Peggy, however, the wife might never forgive me. But she might forget. Alexandra is 117, after all.

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