The White Mink
Carrie has been getting complaints about Skipper. From women who are older than he is. Like Carrie’s agent, and one of her editors at a magazine. Skipper had been putting his hand on their knees under the table at dinners all over town.
The night of the Costume Institute benefit, Carrie was getting her hair done and yelling at Skipper on the phone when Mr. Big came home. He had a big package under his arm. “What’s that?” Carrie asked
“It’s a present for me,” Mr. Big said.
He went into the bedroom, and came out holding a white mink coat. “Merry Christmas.”
“Skipper, I have to go,” Carrie said.
It was just three years ago, Christmas, when Carrie was living in a studio apartment where an old lady had died two months before. Carrie had no money. A friend lent her a piece of foam for a bed. All she had was a mink coat and a Louis Vuitton suitcase, both of which were stolen when the apartment was inevitably robbed. But until then, she slept on the piece of foam with the fur coat over her and she still went out every night. People liked her and nobody asked questions. One night, she was invited to yet another party at someone’s grand Park Avenue apartment. She knew she didn’t really fit in, and she had a hungry look and it was always tempting to stuff your face on the free food, but you couldn’t do that. Instead, she met a man who had a name. He asked her to dinner and she thought, fuck you, all of you.
They went to dinner at Elio’s and sat at one of the front tables. The man laughed a lot and ate breadsticks spread with cold butter from his knife. Are you a successful writer, he asked.
“I have a story in Woman’s Day next month,” Carrie said.
“Woman’s Day? Who reads Woman’s Day?”
Then he said, “I’m going to St. Barts for Christmas. Ever been to St. Barts?”
“You should go. You really should. I rent a villa every year. Everyone goes to St. Barts.”
“Sure,” Carrie said.
The next time they had dinner; he had changed his mind and couldn’t decide if he should go skiing in Gstaad or Aspen or to St. Barts. He asked her where she went to school. “Nayaug High School,” she said. “In Connecticut.”
“Nayaug?” he asked. “Never heard of it. Hey, do you think I should get my ex-girlfriend a Christmas present? She says she’s getting me one. Anyway.”
Carrie just looked at him.
After dinner, he walked her home.
Still, her misery lifted for a few days until she realized that maybe he wasn’t going to call again.
Two days before Christmas, she called him. “I’m about to take off,” he said.
“Where did you decide to go?”
“St. Barts. After all. Have a happy Christmas, O.K.? I hope Santa is good to you.”
“You have a good Christmas too,” she said.
That afternoon, she went ice-skating, doing one spin after another in the center of the rink until they made everyone get off because the session was over. She called her mother. “I’m coming home,” she said. It began snowing. She got on a train at Penn Station. There were no seats. She stood in the vestibule between the cars.
The train went through Rye and Greenwich. The snow turned into a blizzard. They passed Greens Farms and Westport and then the dirty little industrial towns. The train stopped, delayed because of the snow. Strangers began talking. It was Christmas.
Carrie lit a cigarette. She kept thinking about the man lying around a pool underneath a blue St. Barts sky. Carrie watched the snow blow into the car through a crack in the door. She wondered if she would ever get anything right.