My Best Summer Love Unlike so many of you youngsters …

Written by Taki on . Posted in Miscellaneous, Posts.



In the first
instance, my former wife decided enough was enough and stayed away, having flown
to Brazil for the marriage of the recently departed Heini Thyssen. This was
in May. As some of you may remember, some spoiled French students also decided
enough was enough about that time, and Paris became a battleground. My ego was
hurt by the wife leaving me, and my polo career suffered when the students invaded
the polo field and demanded we join them rather than play cowboys and Indians
in the Bois de Boulogne. All the nightclubs shut down–except for New Jimmy’s–there
was no gasoline–I rode my ponies around Paris–and the city came to
a halt, except for the nightly skirmishes between the CRS, the tough French
riot police, and the spoiled ones. What depressed me most of all was the fact
that the Czechs had risen up that year, the students demanding what their French
counterparts were actually rejecting–bourgeois values.


I finally
got bored and left with Diane Alfin for Switzerland, where she met her future
husband Egon von Furstenberg, and then I for St-Tropez, where I began seeing
a young girl by the name of Alexandra Schoenburg-Hartenstein, the mother of
my children.


Thirty-two
years later, the French students knew better, but I hadn’t learned a thing.
In July I was informed by Olga, my mistress, that enough was enough, and then,
to my horror, my wife Alexandra also told me that she was thinking about calling
it a day. Now, to lose one’s mistress is a disaster, but to lose both mistress
and wife has to be a catastrophe. So I shaped up and everything has been hunky-dory
ever since. Though I did have a bad week or two the first year of the new millennium.


But now
for the best summer ever. It had to be 1957, my first year of freedom, and it
happened right here in the beautiful Big Bagel. It was late May, the daffodils
were out, the park looked like paradise and I went to a party off Park Ave.
given by a friend, Francesco Galesi. It was there I met Linda Christian, the
femme fatale to end all femmes fatales. Linda was Dutch-Mexican, had just divorced
Tyrone Power and, at 30 years of age, was at the height of her beauty. Every
single man in the city was after her, and one, John Schlesinger I believe, had
got himself into terrible trouble by stealing money from his mother to buy her
jewels worth 200,000 big ones. (Remember, this was 1957, and a dollar bought
a hell of a lot more than it does today.)


Dick Savitt,
the great tennis player and native Noo Yawker, introduced me to her. "Tell
her you beat Philippe Washer," he advised me. (I had recently played Philippe–then
and now one of my best friends–and he had killed me 6-1, 6-1.) I did better
than that. I smelled that Linda didn’t care for jocks, so I asked her where
she lived. It was the Plaza. "Why do you want to know?" she asked
beguilingly. I knew it was now or never, so I sprung it. "Because I want
to send you diamonds, but I’ll start with flowers."


Well, you
can guess the rest. I paced up and down my room at the Sherry-Netherland where
my parents kept a suite, and finally the telephone rang. It was Linda.


"You
were very generous with the flowers," she said, "but will you be the
same with the diamonds…?"


So we started
to go out, every night, followed by the paparazzi, welcomed to all the clubs
as if I were Rockefeller, my college friends going nuts as to how I had pulled
it off. Never had I been so much in love, never had the city been more a place
for lovers, never had I spent more money that I didn’t have. The Marquis
de Portago, a dashing and very good-looking Formula One racing driver, had been
a boyfriend of Linda’s and was beckoning her to return. Count Paul de Ganay
and Dennis Slater were two socialites I blew away easily.


But of course
it all ended in tears. One day, returning from practice, I walked through the
Plaza lobby on my way to the Sherry. There I saw an incredible sight: my mother,
covered in jewels, and Linda having tea. My mother was in tears. When I demanded
to know what was going on, I was informed by Linda that my mother had offered
Linda her jewels to leave me. (Mother also told her I was penniless, which did
the real damage.)


Soon after
de Portago killed himself in the last Mille Miglia race, Linda flew to his funeral,
and a heartbroken yours truly was sent to the French Riviera by my father to
recuperate. I’ve been a friend of Linda’s ever since, and she now
lives in California and at times we correspond. But I shall never forget those
four weeks of mad, passionate love 45 years ago right here in this wonderful
city.


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