Page 5 of Don't Think So. Here's a Valentine's Day tale. An English journalist came to New York. She was attractive and witty, and right away she hooked up with one of New York's typically eligible bachelors. For two weeks, they kissed, held hands—and then on a warm fall day he drove her to the house he was building in the Hamptons. They looked at the plans with the architect. On Tuesday, he called and said he'd have to take a rain check.
When she hadn't heard from him after two weeks, she called and told him, "That's an awfully long rain check. He never did call, of course. But what interested me was that she couldn't understand what had happened. In England, she explained, meeting the architect would have meant something. Then I realized, Of course: No one's told her about the End of Love in Manhattan. Welcome to the Age of Un-Innocence. The glittering lights of Manhattan that served as backdrops for Edith Wharton's bodice-heaving trysts are still glowing—but the stage is empty.
No one has breakfast at Tiffany's, and no one has affairs to remember—instead, we have breakfast at seven A. How did we get into this mess? Truman Capote understood our nineties dilemma—the dilemma of Love vs. In Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak were faced with restrictions—he was a kept man, she was a kept woman— but in the end they surmounted them and chose love over money. That doesn't happen much in Manhattan these days. We are all kept men and women—by our jobs, by our apartments, and then some of us by the pecking order at Mortimers and the Royalton, by Hamptons beachfront, by front-row Garden tickets—and we like it that way.
Self-protection and closing the deal are paramount. Cupid has flown the co-op. When was the last time you heard someone say, "I love you! When was the last time you heard someone announce, "I am truly, madly in love," without thinking, Just wait until Monday morning?
And what turned out to be the hot non-Tim Allen Christmas movie? Disclosure —for which ten or fifteen million moviegoers went to see unwanted, unaffectionate sex between corporate erotomaniacs—hardly the stuff we like to think about when we think about love but very much the stuff of the modern Manhattan relationship. Page 6 of There's still plenty of sex in Manhattan but the kind of sex that results in friendship and business deals, not romance.
These days, everyone has friends and colleagues; no one really has lovers—even if they have slept together. Back to the English journalist: After six months, some more "relationships," and a brief affair with a man who used to call her from out of town to tell her that he'd be calling her when he got back into town and never did , she got smart.
It's snowing outside and buzzing inside. There's the actress from Los Angeles, looking delightfully out of place in her vinyl gray jacket and miniskirt, with her gold-medallioned, too-tanned escort.
There's the actor, singer, and party boy Donovan Leitch in a green down jacket and a fuzzy beige hat with earflaps. There's Francis Ford Coppola at a table with his wife. There's an empty chair at Francis Ford Coppola's table. It's not just empty: It's alluringly, temptingly, tauntingly, provocatively empty. It's so empty that it's more full than any other chair in the place.
And then, just when the chair's emptiness threatens to cause a scene, Donovan Leitch sits down for a chat. Everyone in the room is immediately jealous. The energy of the room lurches violently. This is romance in New York. Then you get further and further away from having a relationship, unless something big comes along to shake you out of it—like your parents dying. You want to have fun. And if you're a couple, what are you going to do? Sit in your little box of an apartment and file: Page 7 of stare at each other?
When you're alone, it's easier," she said, a little wistfully. You don't have to go home. Back then, we were still romantic enough to believe that some woman could get him. He has to fall in love someday, we thought. Everyone has to fall in love, and when he does, it will be with a woman who's beautiful and smart and successful.
But then those beautiful and smart and successful women came and went. And he still hadn't fallen in love. Today, Capote sits at dinner at Coco Pazzo, and he says he's ungettable. He doesn't want a relationship.
Doesn't even want to try. Isn't interested in the romantic commitment. Doesn't want to hear about the neurosis in somebody else's head.
And he tells women that he'll be their friend, and they can have sex with him, but that's all there is and that's all there's ever going to be.