An International Scandal
On the afternoon of March 23, a 48-year-old Swissair pilot named Ulrich Leutert was jogging on the west side of Central Park. For reasons that remain a mystery, Mr. Leutert entered the men’s room in the old stone building near the Delacorte Theater on 80th Street. What happened inside that dark place is now a matter of further mystery and international scandal.
According to a court document, officer Carlos Medina of the Central Park precinct entered the bathroom area at approximately 12:15 p.m. and observed Mr. Leutert “in open view, manipulating his naked and erect penis in a back-and-forth, up-and down, side-to-side manner.” The court document further notes that Mr. Leutert “exposed parts of his body in a lewd manner in a public place and in private premises in which he might readily be observed from a public place with intent that he be so observed.” Mr. Leutert was charged with public lewdness and held in jail for 18 hours.
Meanwhile, on the night of the arrest, out at Kennedy Airport, the crew and 228 passengers on flight 139 which Mr. Leutert was supposed to fly from New York to Geneva, were waiting for their captain to report for duty. Unable to find the replacement pilot (who, it turned out, was at a Rangers game in Madison Square Garden), Swissair canceled the flight and put the passengers up in a hotel until the following day, when a substitute pilot was found to fly back to Switzerland.
The Swiss press jumped on the story, offering up tabloid-style articles with headlines like, ” Swissair-Captain in US-Pissoir Verhaftet ” (which means in English, “Swissair Captain Arrested in a U.S. Toilet”). Many Swiss, upon reading of his arrest, concluded that Manhattan must be a very strict place.
Reached in his hometown of Kusnacht, Switzerland, which happens to have been the home of the psychologist Carl Jung, Mr. Leutert declined to comment on his ordeal. He believes that revisiting the incidents would only attract the attention of the Swiss press, who he believes are more concerned with the scandal than with the truth. He did say he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to continue flying the New York route. “I am considering flying to other regions,” he said.
Machine Washable, Too
O.K., so the other day the Victoria’s Secret Natural Liquid Miracle Bra sloshed into New York. Conan O’Brien poked holes in it on his show as model Heidi Klum watched aghast; The New York Times ‘ James Barron featured it in one of those half-bemused, gee-whiz Metro section pieces; and this reporter decided to test-drive it to an American Psycho party.
The bra is a frothy polyester confection filled with a secret formula of water and icky-sounding “body oil” that is supposed to add a full cup size. But basically the deal is that when you’re hooked in and buttoned up, no one notices any difference. Flash some cleavage, however, and you are in for remarks like “Wow–it’s like Mozart’s wife in Amadeus .” More Madame de Sévigné than Chloë Sevigny, or for that matter Erin Brockovich.
Not to overthink it, but it seems the Natural Liquid Miracle Bra (whipped-silicone version arrives in July) could actually be the New York answer to breast implants, which are de rigueur in L.A., where there’s room to stretch, but tacky here, kind of like asking to be jostled in the subway. It is a breast explant, and at $48, it is a bargain. Put it on, feel cheesy–but in quotation marks!–then remove and store at day’s end.
Just keep it away from your sporty boyfriend. Curious about a perceived slight insulating effect, this reporter placed her Natural Liquid Miracle Bra in the freezer overnight, and concluded that, in a pinch, it could double as a cold compress.
The Open Marriage
Novelist David Knowles and his wife Jennifer have an open marriage. This means that if Mr. Knowles, a thin 33-year-old with a buzz cut, sees another lady he’s attracted to, he’s free to pursue her. Likewise, if Jennifer, a graduate student in New York, spots a guy she likes, she can go after him.
“People enter into marriage, and say we’re never going to sleep with someone else, like you’re the only person I’m ever going to bed with again for the rest of my life,” Mr. Knowles said. He was sitting in the kitchen in his downtown Brooklyn apartment, fidgeting with the top of the bottle containing his diabetes medication. In the next room Jennifer sewed and watched the Knicks on TV while the couple’s fifteen-month-old son Eli pushed a large blue inflated ball around the apartment. “They’re, what, 25 or something? O.K., that’s great. Fidelity. I don’t have any problem with it if it makes you happy. But a lot of people do have sexual desires and those can be extremely destructive, you know, if they don’t have an outlet.”
Mr. Knowles met Jennifer in college, and started dating her in San Francisco eleven years ago. Both he and Jennifer had been in a series of long-term romances before they moved in together. She wanted to “experiment and do different things,” Mr. Knowles said. “I was at first really against the idea, I have to say. I thought you can’t fool around like this. It will disintegrate. It will destroy. You’ll fall in love with someone else. It just can’t work, no way. But then I sort of realized if I’m not flexible about this point, if I don’t give it a try, I’m going to end up losing her. So that was enough impetus for me to get into it.”
Once he tried it, Mr. Knowles liked it. A lot. He had a good year five years ago on his first book tour for his novella The Secrets of the Camera Obscura . “I ended up fooling around with a woman in Hamburg,” he said. “While I was gone Jen ended up fooling around with an acquaintance she had here. Then I had time off after a reading in Berlin and I went to Prague and met an American woman who was living in Paris there and sort of explained what I was doing, and we ended up fooling around, you know, just fooling around, we didn’t even have sex. Just kissing. That was really satisfying. It was one night, this pure chance encounter. She hadn’t read my book. She didn’t know who I was. Certainly I think she was a little impressed that I was on a book tour. But it wasn’t as if she stopped me in the hotel and said, ‘Aren’t you Paul Auster?’ or something. It wasn’t like that at all.”
Mr. Knowles writes spare, idea-driven mysteries. His new book, The Third Eye , is being billed as a “New York noir” about a wealthy young landlord who takes advantage of Manhattan rents by subletting a “pristine” SoHo one-bedroom to a beautiful woman each summer for just $400 and taking pictures of her from an apartment across the street.
These days, alas, the “open” part of the couple’s “open marriage” has been shelved. When Mr. Knowles travels through Europe this summer reading from his new book he will not be free to sleep with foreign women. And Jennifer, who will remain in New York with their son, will not be free to sleep with New York men.
“We sort of felt when Eli was born, if this is going to work we both have to be at our optimum condition,” Mr. Knowles said. “It wouldn’t be fair for me to be running around if Jen is eight months pregnant. It’s not about one-upmanship. It’s about making sure things are fair.”
Here are the rules, per Mr. Knowles:
“What we ended up with was when one person goes out of town the other could have a one-night stand. And it had to be a one-night stand. You couldn’t have a continuous relationship. You couldn’t take time away from your relationship,” he said. “You had to tell the other person, you couldn’t hide it, couldn’t be a secret that burned your relationship down to the ground. It had to be out in the open. So basically what it was all about was trusting the other person.”
They plan to resume the open part of their marriage in the future, but they haven’t set a date.
“Do we see ourselves never sleeping with another person again in our lives?” Mr. Knowles asked. “No.”
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