[Ed. note: This is a continuation of the story started in this post by ATL guest columnist Hope Winters, which you should read first if you haven’t done so already. It’s about Hope’s friend Anna, a young Wall Street lawyer and self-described “summer wife.”]
It’s the first week of August. At around five o’clock, Anna’s BlackBerry begins buzzing with invitations to fancy restaurants like Amaranth or Cipriani, courtesy of the much older partners looking for summer wives. Anna likes to network and she likes to eat, so she’s game.
You’d never guess it by her lithe frame and recessed chest exposing clavicle bones, but Anna can eat and drink … a lot. And like all girls, she just likes attention — attention best demonstrated at lavish restaurants, and hotel bars where cucumber Martinis are served all night long. Anna is into the glam. She wears conservative charcoal gray Diane von Furstenberg dresses, but accessorizes sexy — strappy black sandals that crisscross at the ankles, dangling gold earrings, and a black lace camisole ever-so-subtly revealed. So if a much older, frumpy partner wants to be seen with her, he better be taking her somewhere gorgeous.
In any event, as the summer goes by and the dinners multiply (followed always by an invitation for a “nightcap” at the partner’s apartment), Anna grows increasingly fond of one of her suitors, Abraham. She realizes that it’s time for her to grow up, settle down, and take a summer husband. He has been courting her for a long time now. Calling her. Wining and dining her. Complimenting her. Texting her. Even sending her a car and driver.
He wants her. She is everything right that is wrong in his wife.
Finally, Anna capitulates. Very well — I’ll be your summer wife.
Read more, after the jump.
When I visit New York City, I get to meet the infamous Abraham. I expect him to be your typical nebbishy, sophomoric, middle-aged lawyer. But he is actually quite civilized and mature and charming. He seems to like his wife. I wouldn’t say love; he does tell us that they never sleep together and haven’t for years. (By the way, don’t they all say that?) But still, he’s a swell guy, very nice to all her friends. He buys us dinner and drinks. He holds the door open for us. He has impeccable manners. He even places my white cloth napkin on my lap.
That night, I order pulled pork, just because I know he isn’t allowed to eat it. I dig the pig, and I eat it unabashedly, washing it down with big glasses of Sancerre from the bottle Anna just ordered. Anna always orders the wine, and she always picks the best kind. Sometimes she orders two or three different kinds. She is into Meritages, if you will. Wow. What a life……
And there is always one more drink to be had. I’m exhausted. I have just finished writing a big memo. I’m on an adrenaline rush from completing this thing, but I’m also very drained. It’s almost eleven now, and I am fading rapidly.
“Come on Hope.” Anna grabs my arm; her gold Rolex, with diamonds where the numbers should be, grazes me lightly.
“One more drink. Please. Please. I’ll buy! Just one more drink.”
“I don’t know. I’m so tired.” I rub my eyes.
“Wait.” She begins to text rapidly. “Look who is texting me, Evan! Oh god.” She laughs and rolls her eyes.
Everyone wants Anna.
Evan is another lawyer looking for a summer wife. He and Anna have been “phone dating” for some time now. But she will only talk to him on the phone or via text. Nothing else. She’s not sure that he’s summer husband material.
As Anna’s fingers move feverishly across her BlackBerry keyboard, I glance over at old Abe. He’s clearly jealous, but Anna just won’t stop. She texts away. Teasing him. Cajoling him. He bites.
So, I reluctantly agree to go out with them for a final mojito at some Latin club. That’s the thing about New York. There are just so many cool places to go to, and they all have the neatest drinks. After a mojito or two, we get into the mood. Anna and I dance the salsa with each other, and really have some laughs. This is so fun. I wish I was Anna.
At the end of the night, we hop in a cab that Abe hails for us. He is going uptown to the Upper East (of course), and we’re going downtown to Gramercy (of course). He drops us off first, and as we approach Anna’s teeny tiny walkup apartment, he politely asks us to come back to his place for a G&T.
Just one more drink….
But we politely decline. We’re just not that into it. And Anna is already texting again with Evan. She’s on to her next potential summer husband.
“Well Anna, the summer is almost over,” Abraham laughs. “I’m going to the beach the last week of August. And then it’s fall. Our days together are numbered now.”
I lean over and whisper to Anna: “He’s right — the summer wife has to be gone by autumn. Maybe we should grab that drink?”
But Anna politely declines again. We wave him goodbye, and begin discussing the state of his marriage and the state of big law firm life, in general. She tells me all lawyers in New York do this, and it’s no big deal. The summer wife thing, that is.
We decide he probably isn’t really in love with his wife. At a minimum, he doesn’t respect her, or he wouldn’t be acting this way. But maybe his wife is okay with it. I mean, who am I to judge? Maybe she really likes the ocean. Maybe she’s delighted to be away from him for a few months, preferring manicures and shoe shopping to his company. Maybe, like Betty Draper of Mad Men, she is just starting to put the pieces together and soon will come unglued.
And I realize that he really isn’t unlike any of the other powerful men I have met who have told me — to my face, at formal work dinners — how dissatisfied they have become with their marriages. Maybe he likes Anna so much because she doesn’t want him, at least not long-term. She may not even like him that much now, for all I know. But the less she seems to like him, the more supper dates he appears to want. At least for these, the last remaining days of summer, until the fall-winter-spring wife returns to the big city.
I hate to be so cynical. But, to paraphrase (or turn on his head?) Oscar Wilde:
“A man can be happy with any woman as long as she doesn’t love him.”
Earlier: Summer Wives (Part 1)