In this month’s book excerpt of Lance Avery Morgan’s The Society Chronicles see how the rich live, and sometimes, die with all the tappings of success and happiness surrounding them in our very sociable world.
The problem with beauty is that it’s like being born rich and getting poorer. Joan Collins
Like everyone, I was in a reflective mood. Everyone who attended the Medford dinner party had also begun to take stock of their lives because of Sabrina’s bump off. Aaron Goodfriend’s uninvited outburst. Zeke denying implied guilt. Those tears in the social fabric were not attractive. In shock, guests were evaluating life as the light of day revealed the low downs of high society, with the biggest burden, likely, laid upon the fairer sex.
Show me a beautiful woman and I’ll show you a guy who might be tired of sleeping with her, according to a straw-hat poll I took at a recent poker game with some tycoons. Pretty on the outside? You bet. As pretty on the inside? Not so fast. You can’t start a fire with damp matches, as my grandmother always used to say, about shallow women whose lasting appeal was elusive. Or, beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes all the way through, shared my Upper East Side grande dame pal, Giselle Greggory, who dated and mated upwardly all eight decades of her life.
Too many pretty women remembered to wear the eyeliner, but forgot to use her peepers to give her man the special look every guy craves. The formula for keeping a relationship fresh and appealing is not complicated, even for the rich. He wants to be admired and she wants to be adored. A simple brush of the hand against another’s, or lovingly cupping a face with both hands, can work wonders to restore the love that might seem forgotten.
Of course a great body never hurts either, but you can always buy that.
I am not sure why women like Sabrina try so hard to get what they immediately dismiss. It seems that the newest profession in the world is the opposite pole of the oldest. That would be Social Climbing. How to do it. How to live it. How it can kill you. Sabrina knew the skill and now her acolytes were worried that they might be off’d for their success, too, eventually.
It is a story as old as time. It has happened for 10,000 generations of humanity. In her quest for power only to be quenched with exceptional and continuous notoriety, Sabrina had scaled the highest heights of the social universe by leapfrogging over the likes of society incumbents Cecilia Fortnight, Kit Jordan and yep, Alexandra Medford. The WWF-like showdown competition of who could raise the most money at one night’s gala for their favorite causes had placed Sabrina firmly in the lead and these other women did not favor being also-ran silver medal winners.
Yet, none of that seemed to matter as much the day after the day after Sabrina’s sayonara, when it was recounted by even the least savvy of onlookers – that it was the fate of her husband’s last and most flagrant affair that may have led to her untimely death.
At the party and shortly thereafter, Aaron Goodfriend had split a gasket and was shaking inside and out. In the throes of a mid-life crisis, not satisfied with buying another G6 (he’d upgraded from a Citation years before) or owning any more founding shares of hot technology companies like Facebook or Instagram, he was caught in the dirty act of publicly philandering and this time, it cut his wife down to the core and led to her demise.
Sure, Sabrina had known of Aaron’s mistresses along the way. She told me all about it. The beach barmaid in Nevis. The tennis pro, the one with the flowing curls, at the Sutton East Tennis Club near their Park Avenue duplex. Worse, there was the time several years ago with her now-deceased cousin, Charlotte, stayed in the Goodfriend’s guesthouse on their manicured and rose bed-laden Greenacres estate in Scarsdale.
But, this time, an affair with the children’s au pair? Come on now.
Blake Radcliffe, apparently, was no ordinary nanny. She was a third degree black belt, for security reasons, which came in handy to counter the kidnapping threats toward Olivia and Maxwell Goodfriend, ages 16 and 15, respectively. Of course, Radcliffe was eye-wateringly beautiful and the scholarship student had just earned her graduate degree with a double major in education and social work at the nearby Fordham University, so she was smart, too. She loved marketing more, though. Mostly, marketing herself.
As ambitious as the day was long, Blake, in all her 23-year-old bountiful glory, was seduced by The World of The Goodfriend’s. Who wouldn’t be, really? Aaron Goodfriend had seduced her like she’d never been seduced before with a trip to Van Cleef’s. Only A-list socialites could be caught wearing the store’s expensive baubles, so it made Blake closer to them in spirit.
It was the shot heard ‘round the world when Sabrina Goodfriend decided she would not file for divorce, but instead would make Aaron do it. The epiphany came to her after a ladies lunch at Michael’s restaurant in Manhattan just hours before. The eatery, a favorite, sat on 55th Street, was relatively close to the Goodfriend’s place by the Guggenheim Museum, and was also close to her post-lunch shopping and drinking haunts like Bendel’s and theOak Room at the Plaza.
The nerve of the him, she must have thought, as she vowed to find a way to get even… and she always did.
While alive, Sabrina had finally realized the hard way that everything happens, but nothing changes. Revenge meant she’d tried to take more than her half of the Goodfriend fortune in the divorce that she made him file, as well as upstaging Aaron at every possible chance. That would rile him all right. When she was in good with her family, Sabrina had enough of her own family money to squeak by (beer money, as she liked to call some of her inheritance, also given as a nod to her distant and lesser bred beer-making relatives in Milwaukee), but she wanted more this time around.
The Sabrina Goodfriend I knew best from the college debutante circuit was different from the one who now seemed so very dead. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon up my behind, but I sure found sterling opportunities along the way. Like when Sabrina called me because we’d lost touch over the years. Little did I know how much that reacquainting would change the course of both our lives.
When someone like Sabrina first sees herself on the cover of a magazine, like she did on Dazzle, it is like that first hit of crack must be. It’s never as good with the future hits, but she had to keep chasing the P. R. dragon to recreate that feeling. Publicity creates euphoria in people and that, seemingly, makes me their crack dealer of sorts.
In the dazzling world of people who would kill to be famous, we rule the roost. Want to be on the cover? The celebrity have better have a guaranteed $100 million-dollar box office opening weekend of their new film. Or, she better be the new darling of Manhattan high society. They’ll need plenty of ammunition to fight off all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune of being rich, young and oh, so beautiful. For as long as that perfect triad lasts, anyway.
It’s pure junkie-level adrenaline for any Sociable. Attend five black-tie galas in one night? Easy enough. Cocktails at the first event. A salad at the next. Jump to the live auction segment of the third one, dinner at the fourth and show up looking spectacular for the after-party at the fifth gala. Done by midnight. Welcome to paradise… to the world of step-and repeat-entrances list at these shindigs. Some of the guests are just gala groupies; standing, contrapposto, awaiting that next digital close-up. That same addiction plagued Sabrina while she was alive and kicking.
As expected, people whispered of Sabrina, in the hours directly following her passing away. They thought of her tumultuous past, as well as her turbulent present. Right or wrong, people thought, she may have committed suicide. Not by her own hand, but the fact that every day of her life she was killing herself with her actions. Not in the gun-wielding sort of way, but with the weapons of her words and actions where all of her family was concerned, especially her younger brother Joshua, who too, was in over his head these days and was wreaking havoc only a few days before Sabrina’s call to the great unknown.