Episode 10: Thighs wide shut

Hillary Clinton fund-raiser leads to a close encounter with a client.

Published August 12, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

August 12, 1999

Saturday July 24

This morning, while my eyes were about to open, I felt Matt breathing against my neck. I was getting very turned on when --

"What's that bruise?" he inquired, touching my hip gently.

"Oh, " I mumbled, "It's a long story. Allison ..."


"... accidentally pushed me. I bumped into a table."


"I don't remember!" I shot back, turning away.

Regretting the outburst, I sat up. My thighs were damp and I was frustrated but he was already out of bed, heading for the shower. Was he trying to trick me into talking -- by exploiting my craving for an orgasm?

Later, he interrupted my coffee ritual, caressing my neck -- a portion of me that is strictly off-limits at work. The clients I come with -- I still won't let them kiss my neck. It's more intimate than any other kissing: He has no idea how special this is. I felt Matt toying with my face, my breasts ... I was ready to make up.

"I thought you said Allison had moved out of New York."

"She came back for a visit."

A bossy tone took over as he reached into my bathrobe. "When was that?"

"Why are you so curious about Allison? You're asking a lot of questions!" I pulled back and violently closed my robe.

"Hey, calm down, " he said, "It's you I'm after -- not your blond girlfriend."

All of this was forgotten when we arrived in East Hampton, late for the BBQ fundraiser -- billed as a "friendly grilling" in Hillary Clinton's honor. Matt's boss, Pam, is such a Hillary fan it's scary. She even looks like her -- a richer, thinner version: the first lady on cocaine. Matt says she's a far better schemer, too.

We ended up at a table sipping sugary caipirinhas with Matt's older sister, Elspeth, an abrasive but pretty assistant prosecutor, and her husband Jason, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer.

Inevitably, talk turned to "Eyes Wide Shut."

"Ridiculous," Elspeth announced, "What woman asks her husband after nine years of marriage and a kid -- 'do you ever think about fucking other women?' Come on, nobody's husband gets that much attention after nine years."

"You're focusing on the weak spot as usual," Jason replied. "That was a device to get the story moving. Kubrick explores Freudian undercurrents -- Freud's not literal. What is it Nicole Kidman says? 'You men haven't a clue' -- most men haven't."

"Except for you," Elspeth said sweetly, rolling her eyes. "Matt probably went for the orgy scenes -- all those masked hookers in high heels. Sorry, Nancy," she snickered, "but men are dogs."

"Dogs?" Matt protested. "What would you call Nicole Kidman's character? You've got a private fantasy life -- just like hers -- that Jason never sees. That's Kubrick's point. The difference is, she admits it."

"Busted by my own brother. There's no justice. How about you, Nancy?"

"Nancy's got the corniest video collection I've ever seen," boasted Matt, putting his arm around me. "'Splash' ... 'Pretty Woman' ... 'Gigi.' She's the last romantic. Covers her eyes when they start doing urban angst."

I bristled -- "I've got my own take on urban angst" -- silently remembering how Matt held me when Daryl Hannah's secret identity was tragically revealed in "Splash" ... Would he be holding me like this if my secrets were exposed? I gave him a resentful look, which pleased Elspeth. Then, I felt guilty about letting Matt's big sister score a point at his expense.

When the conversation segued to JFK Jr's funeral, Elspeth launched into an attack on John-John's unremarkable track record as a prosecutor. I spotted a familiar balding head -- a guy with a lazy smile and a short, graying beard nodding amiably at our hostess. He was wearing a Hawaiian print shirt with a black background. Spooky! Naturally, he's donating to Hillary -- not Rudy. I tried to avoid him -- isn't that what professionals are supposed to do? -- but we bumped into each other at the dessert table.

"You look amazing -- as usual," he said in a discreet but relaxed voice.

For a moment I wished that Spooky were less of a rich hippie and more of a stuffed shirt -- a suburban john who goes into hiding when he spots a hooker at a party. But Spooky's an equal opportunity flirt -- too evolved for all that. I was flattered but nervous, due to Matt's early morning interrogation.

"Thanks," I said, stiffly. "I'm here with my boyfriend -- you?"

"My daughter Larissa is somewhere around. She's interning for Pam this summer. Are you a friend of the family?" he asked, clearly turned on by the whole idea.

"Uh, my girlfriend is," I half-lied, temporarily recasting Elspeth as my dearest friend.

(I don't want Spooky to know that my boyfriend works for Pam, too!)

"Call me on Tuesday, would you? And give this to your date," he said with a sly wink.

He had insisted on serving me a piece of lemon meringue pie -- which I didn't dare give Matt, in case he had spotted Spooky's gallant bit of mischief. Elspeth, like everyone else, recognized Spooky. "Are you friends?" she asked.

"Not really," I said, devouring the pie -- more interested than ever in keeping my mouth quietly occupied.

Matt played it cool until we were alone in the car. "R________ was really taking an interest in you," he said. "Elspeth's a great observer of body language. She says you guys had quite a rapport --"

"Oh, Elspeth," I huffed, "a prurient married person." He was starting to sound as snide as his sister.

"So how do you know him?"

"He was chatting me up at another benefit," I said. "I was working. Remember that catering gig I told you about? He was surprised to see me here ... He asked why I wasn't wearing my uniform."

An unfair but necessary embellishment -- ultra-hip Spooky would never say such an awful thing.

"Well, I'm glad you're not running around in a uniform anymore," Matt said.

"But I liked it," I protested. "I was meeting people. Copy-editing is a bore -- I'm never around other human beings. You wouldn't understand -- you work in an office."

Matt seems to accept the story that I float from one slacker gig to another, catering one month, proofreading the next. A stack of novels by dead white men -- and ladies -- on my bedroom floor implies that while I'm a slacker, I'm respectable. Since Matt never bothers to read anything written before 1960, he's pretty gullible. Still, as we pulled into the B&B Elspeth had recommended, he gave me a strange, doubting look that made me squirm.

Bassett House is surprisingly claustrophobic. I can't return my messages without being overheard -- by Matt, the owners, or Elspeth who is right next door. Milt called and left two messages. His voice sounds oddly desperate -- not like him at all. "I'm sitting in my car, waiting for you to call back. It's urgent. I'm leaving for Tokyo Monday morning and I have to see you Sunday night. It's not what you think."

By Tracy Quan

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