I went to a professional matchmaker, just like on reality TV, only for real. The offices were decorated like an escort service – or a topless bar – with lucite furniture and faux animal skins draped over pleather settees. The business model was that men paid for the matchmaker’s curatorial skills, and women were the product being shilled.
That is, I was.
I was set up with the Corporate Raider. “He has a tall personality,” the matchmaker said by way of saying he was short. He was the wingman of Wall Street; he stood beside boldface names as they were indicted and came out the other side victorious, ready to conquer the economy harder, better, and get buildings named after them; a hospital, a park, some civic good, to burnish their already high self-esteem.
We met at a bar on the Upper West Side. He was about to move downtown to a new penthouse in the heart of the village. He had no time to decorate (he was too important) and so hired someone to buy things for him; furniture, fixings, fittings, a turnkey life.
Raider: I’m getting divorced, but it’s not that big a deal. We only knew each other two years.
Me: That is quick.
Raider: We dated three months. It takes six months to plan a wedding. The marriage lasted a summer.
Me: I’m sorry.
Raider: She’s been off my balance sheets for a while.
As romantic a story as I had ever heard.
Me: So tell me about your new place.
Raider: I overpaid, but it’s beachfront property, the best block in the West Village. Two balconies and three fireplaces. Very Metropolitan Home.
Me: Yet another magazine that bit the dust.
Raider: No it didn’t.
Me: Yup, folded a while ago. Welcome to the print apocalypse.
Raider: You’re mistaken.
Me: I’m not wrong, I’m a journalist, and this is my career. You think I’m not paying attention?
He reached for his phone and Google-checked me.
The design rag had gone to the great magazine graveyard. I wasn’t wrong.
Raider: You should see what I’m doing with it: Christian Liaigre, De Gournay.
Me: I’m sure it has a great kitchen. I love to cook.
Raider: The kitchen leads onto the deck, with views of the sunset over the Hudson, fireplace, pizza oven, grill, bar, the works.
Me: Home-cooked meals mean so much, don’t they? Someday, I’ll cook Thanksgiving and serve it around my parents’ dining room table – it’s in storage right now – that’s when I’ll know I’m home.
Raider: I already have a dining room table. I got it at Christie’s.
He was looking for a turnkey woman, someone decorative to adorn his penthouse full of shopping. It wasn’t as if he wanted a partner who came prefurnished, with stuff, or it seemed, a voice. I guess those were off balance sheet items.
I told him I had an early morning meeting, and he walked me to a cab. When I feinted for a kiss on the cheek, he claimed a smooch I did not give him. And a bit more. He was handsy and possessive. I didn’t push him away. I should have. It bugs me that I didn’t. But I was the merchandise, bought and paid for.