Cici ran out of the house crying just as Carolyne was spinning up the driveway in a rental car. She was also crying. She’d run into Sam, who just happened to be in Miami as well, and he wanted her to have a ménage à trios “with some blonde stripper bimbo.” When Carolyne said, “fuck off,” he pushed her down on the sand at South Beach and said, “The only reason I ever went any place with you was because we always get our pictures taken.”
Two weeks later, Carolyne ended up in the Post’s Page Six gossip column. She went to a party at Tunnel, and when the doorman wouldn’t let her in, she started screaming at him; then she punched him and he wrestled her to the ground. The next morning, she called up Page Six. When the item came out, she bought 20 copies of the paper.
Then Cici got kicked out of the apartment she was sharing with a lawyer from Philadelphia, the older sister of a college friend. The woman said, “Cici, I’m really worried about you. You’re not a nice person anymore.” Cici yelled at her that she was just jealous. Then she moved to Carolyne’s couch.
Around the same time, an unfortunate item came out about Carrie in one of the gossip columns. She was trying to ignore it when Cici called up all excited.
“Ohmigod, you’re famous,” she said. “You’re in the papers. Have you read it?” Then she began reading it. Carrie started screaming at her. “Let me explain something. If you want to survive in this town, never, ever call anybody and read something terrible about them from the papers. You pretend you never saw it, O.K.? And if they ask you if you did, you lie and say, ‘No, I don’t read trash,’ even though you do. Get it? Cici, who’s side are you on here?” Cici started crying and Carrie hung up the phone and felt guilty afterward.
“I’m going to introduce you to a guy and I know you’re going to fall in love with him, but don’t,” Carolyne said to Cici. So she did.
Ben was 40, a sometime restaurateur who’d already been married twice and had been in and out of rehab a dozen times. Everyone in New York knew about him, and if his name came up, people would roll their eyes. After all his drinking and coke-snorting, he still possessed a residue of what he was before—charming, amusing, handsome—and Cici fell in love with the residue. They spent two weekends together, even though they never had sex. Then they went to a party; he disappeared, and Cici found him leaning over a 16-year-old model who had just come into town. “You’re disgusting,” she screamed.
“Oh come on,” he said. “You’ve got to let me live out my fantasies.” He grinned, and you could see that his teeth needed to be rebonded.
Meanwhile, Carolyne sort of moved in with Sam. She kept her apartment, but spent every night at his and always left something—shoes, perfume, earrings, dry-cleaned blouses, six or seven different kinds of face cream—behind. This went one for three months. The night before Valentine’s Day, Sam exploded. “I want you out,” he said. He was breathing heavily.
“I don’t get it,” Carolyne said.
“There is nothing to get,” Sam said. “I just want you, your stuff, out of here, now.” Sam cranked open a window and began throwing her things out.
Carolyne smacked him hard across the back of his head.
He turned around. “You hit me,” he said.
“Sam…” she said.
“I can’t believe…you hit me.” He began backing across the floor. “Don’t come near me,” he said. He reached down and picked up his cat.
“Sam,” Carolyne said, walking toward him.
“Stay back,” he said. He grabbed the cat under its armpits so its legs were sticking straight out at Carolyne; he held it up like a weapon. “I said, get back.”
“Sam. Sam.” Carolyne shook her head. “This is so pitiful.”
Carolyne took a few steps toward the bed. “I didn’t mean…”