Megalomaniac Movie Star Seeks a Marriageable Mate—or Two

A movie premiere sets the stage for drama to unfold. Vuitton Lim/Unsplash

[Ed. note: this article was originally published on November 25th, 1996]

Tyler Kidd is in town and James Dieke is afraid. And excited.

To hear his wife, Winnie, tell it, James and the Famous Movie Star are old friends. “Tyler Kidd? Don’t even ask,” Winnie will say if somebody does ask (and they do, since Winnie makes sure of it by dropping Tyler Kydd’s name at every opportune moment). “Tyler and James used to be bartenders together. On Martha’s Vineyard. When they were in college. A million years ago.” And then: “He’s just a regular guy, you know.” Pause. “He was best man at our wedding.”

James has always suspected that Winnie considers his friendship with Tyler an asset. Like owning a house in the country. (Which they do, even though, as two earnest journalists, they both know they can’t really afford it—each is secretly hoping the other hits a book deal. Soon.)

The last time James spoke with Tyler (three months ago, Tyler calling from his trailer on location in Mississippi), Tyler said, “I wish hookers were girls you knew. You know, like regular girls who were your friends, but they were hookers, too. So whenever you wanted to have sex with them, you could pay them, and you wouldn’t have to get involved.”

James hadn’t known what to say. That he’d never been with a hooker? That he found prostitution repugnant for moral and feminist reasons?

“Dude?” Tyler said.

“But if you’re friends with them, aren’t you already involved?” James said. “In some manner?”

“I have to go. I’m wanted in makeup,” Tyler had said, like the whole thing was still a big joke to him and always would be.

“Tyler’s in town,” James says now, calling Winnie from his home-office, and being careful to use the fax line because he’s been audited by the I.R.S. three times.

“We should fix him up with someone,” Winnie says.

“I don’t think Tyler Kydd needs to be fixed up,” James says.

“With a normal girl,” Winnie says. “A woman in her 30s with a real job.”

“I don’t think Tyler Kydd wants to go out with a normal girl.”

“James,” Winnie says, “Tyler is always asking me to fix him up with someone.”

“He’s just says that to make you feel good,” James says.

“Oh. So, in other words, all he really wants to do is fuck dumb, 20-year-old models for the rest of his life.”

“Probably.”

“Even when he’s 60?”

“Definitely when he’s 60.”

“He’s always telling me he wants to find the right girl and get married.”

“That’s only because he’s never been married,” James says.

There’s a pause. James hits a few keys on his computer.

“Thank you, James,” Winnie says. “I’ve been waiting for a comment like that, and you just delivered.”

“Can I get off the phone now?” James asks. He types in the word, “Chimpanzees.”

“No, you may not,” Winnie says.

“I’ve got to do an interview. With a man in customs. About the chimp story.”

“Have you ever noticed how every time Tyler Kydd comes into town, you start acting like an asshole”

“No,” James says.

“A big, fucking asshole.”

“Sorry,” James says.

“I won’t tolerate it, James. I will not tolerate what happened last time.”

“What happened last time?” James says.

Silence.

“So who are you going to fix Tyler up with?” James says. “What about your sister Evie?”

“Evie’s involved,” Winnie says.

“With who?”

“Who isn’t involved with Evie?” Winnie says.

Me, James thinks.

The Kydd Checks In

Tyler Kydd checks into the penthouse suite at Morgans hotel. Registers under the name Geronimo.

While his bags are being sent up to the suite, Tyler goes down to the bar. The waitress, short, dark-haired, pretty, nervous, if you like that type, approaches, holding a tray. “Hi?” says. “Tyler? I’m Susie?”

“Yes?”

“I met you once before?”

“Oh, please. You’re not going to try to make me remember something, are you?”

But it wasn’t that long ago. At a party in Aspen?”

“You’re going to try to make me do this.”

“No, I…”

“You’ve just got to do that woman-thing don’t you? I tell you not to do something and you don’t listen. You’ve just got to keep nagging at me.”

“I hardly even know you.”

“That’s right. And let’s keep it that way.” A beat, and then Tyler laughs on purpose. His laugh means two things: I’m Tyler Kydd and everything I say is funny; and, I was just kidding, don’t call Page Six and tell them what an asshole I am. “What’s your name?”

“Susie.”

“Oh, that’s right. You told me your name, didn’t you.”

“Hey, man, there are talking monkeys on the TV,” someone says.

Chimpanzees squatting on the ground, pounding sticks, chanting “Toga, toga toga.”

“Have you ever had a threesome?” Tyler asks. He pulls down on the brim of his baseball cap.

“Are you asking me if I want to have a threesome with you?” she shifts her weight to the other hip.

“I’m not asking you anything,” Tyler says. “I just want a drink.”

“Is that how you usually ask for a drink? Asking if someone wants a threesome?”

“Hey, sweetheart.” Tyler leans in toward her. Cocks his head to the side almost as if he’s going to whisper in her hear. “Lighten up, O.K.? If you want to turn me off, just keep up the bad attitude.”

Deano’s Eight Ball

Maria Kydd-Peen, 40 years old, 20 pounds overweight, Tyler Kydd’s older sister, walks into the renovated kitchen in the renovated duplex in the brownstone on West 11th Street. “Don’t throw out The Times, Perdita,” she says to the Portuguese “housekeeper” (laundry, cooking, cleaning, some child care, not to be confused with Sonya, the Brazilian nanny, who will not cook and clean, and won’t work weekends).

“I never throw out the paper,” Perdita says.

“No, of course you don’t,” Maria says, even though she knows it is a lie. She takes a swig from an Evian bottle. Then another. She waits for Perdita to ask the question: Why does she want to keep the paper? If Perdita is too stupid to ask the question, she will tell her. There’s no reason to discuss it with Perdita, but Maria can’t help it. She must discuss it with everybody.

“One of our friends died,” Maria says. “His obituary is in the paper.”

“That’s bad,” Perdita says.

“Yes,” Maria says. “It is. He died because he took too many drugs.”

“Drugs is bery, bery bad,” Perdita says.

“Yes,” Maria says, “Drugs are very bad,” and she wonders if she should tell the children about Deano Barry’s death, as a sort of allegory of what happens if you take drugs. But the last time they saw Deano Barry, the last time they talked to him even, her daughter Cher was just a year old, and little Sting hadn’t even been conceived yet.

If they hadn’t stopped seeing Deano Barry, in fact, if Maria hadn’t put her foot down, Sting never would have been conceived. He wouldn’t be sitting in the den, watching a Peter Pan video on a large-screen TV and crying while his older sister chewed the heads off his plastic dinosaurs.

Sting was afraid of Captain Hook.

Maria had heard over the course of the day that Deano Barry’s mother had gone to live with him in the end, but had been in the hospital for bunions. While she was gone, Deano had obviously ordered an eight ball of cocaine (three-and-a-half grams) and snorted it all up. She had heard that Deano had gained weight, ballooned up to 300 pounds. She had heard that Deano, after quitting the law firm three years ago, had worked at home, dealing with fewer and fewer clients until there were none left. Until there was no reason for him to leave his six-room Park Avenue apartment. Until there was no reason to pick up the phone.

Not that they’d tried to call him, anyway.

All day long, she kept thinking about the effects of an eight ball of cocaine on the physique of a 300-pound man.

The word was that Deano Barry was definitely not dead when he’d arrived by ambulance at Lenox Hill Hospital

At 7:43 p.m., Maria’s husband, the sculptor Dane Peen, comes home. He’s been at a parent-teacher evening at Sting’s pre-nursery school.

“Hello.” He kisses her on the cheek, his eyes staring at one of his sculptures in the corner. “Where are the children?”

“The den,” she says.

“Good Day?”

“Fine.”

“Great,” he says. He bounds out of the room, stopping on the landing for five seconds: “Oh, by the way, Sting has a girlfriend. Little French girl.”

“Lovely.”

Maria goes to the kitchen. She puts ice in a glass and pours herself a glass of San Pellegrino water. Cuts a slice of lime. Drops it in the glass. She takes the glass into the bedroom

When she’s in the shower, Dane comes in and pees. “I’m not showering,” he says. “I’m going as is.”

“Fine,” she says.

She gets out of the shower. Wraps a towel around her. Walks into the bedroom she can hear Dane laughing with Perdita in the kitchen. “You’re losing weight, Perdita,” he says, and Perdita giggles. “Pretty soon, you’ll have men chasing after you. I’m going to have to warn your husband.”

Maria puts baggy black pants, white silk shirt, pearls and an oversized black jacket. She applies lipstick. When she walks out to the kitchen, Sting is clinging to Dane’s leg, and Perdita is leaning over, wiping something off Sting’s face with her hand. “Oh yes, he’s a very good boy. Going to be a famous artist like his father.”

“You should see his finger painting,” Dane says. Sting hides his face in his father’s pant leg.

“Boo!” Perdita says.

“Boo everybody,” Maria says.

“There’s Mommy,” Dane says.

“We’re going to see you Uncle Tyler. He has a movie opening,” Maria says.

“You remember your Uncle Tyler? Uncle Tiger?” Dane says. Sting crosses one leg over the other, swaying on one foot. Perdita grabs him.

“Perdita wants Tyler’s autograph,” Maria says. “Isn’t that silly?”

“I think it’s sweet,” Dane says.

“Well, he’s going to be here for dinner on Friday night,” Maria says. She picks up her bag. “Hear that, Perdita? Then you can get all the autographs you want.”

Evie’s Big Spill

At 23rd Street, in the cab going up Sixth Avenue, Maria says, “I have to talk to you about something.”

“Really?” Dane says.

“Deano Barry died.” Her head is turned toward him, her eyes narrowed.

He plays with the electric window button, lowering the window a quarter of an inch. “Is that my fault?” he says.

“No. But you should be grateful.”

“To?”

“To me.” She looks out the window, then back at him. “He died,” she says, pausing, “of a cocaine overdose.”

“Well, how else did you think he was going to die?”

“You should think about it,” she says.

“I have thought about it. For Chrissake, it’s all I’ve thought about. You won’t let me think about anything else.”

“I don’t want you going out with Tyler tonight.”

“I’m not going out with Tyler tonight. We’re going to a party for his movie.”

The cab pulls up in front of the Ziegfeld Theater. There’s a throng of photographers outside. “I hate these things,” she says.

“I really like them,” Dane says. He walks a few feet in front of her and when he stops to let the photographers take his picture, Maria passes him and says, “Fuck you.”

Evie, Winnie’s sister, is standing inside, her jacket open, full pale breasts spilling out of a green silk shirt unbuttoned below her bra.

“Hello, Evie,” Dane says. “It’s always such a pleasure to see you.”

“I’m looking for Winnie. She has my ticket to the party,” Evie says.

“Come with us,” Dane says. “If she doesn’t show.”

“Absolutely,” Maria says. “By the way, you might want to button up your blouse.”

They leave Evie and take the escalator to the second floor. “That was nasty,” Dane says. “Telling Evie to button up her blouse.”

“She looks like a slut.”

“You embarrassed her.”

“You embarrass me.

Winnie is standing in the aisle of the theater, arguing with some woman about her seat. “They won’t let us sit in the reserved seats,” Winnie says.

“Of course we’re sitting in the reserved seats. We’ll sit wherever we want,” Maria says.

“You can’t sit here,” the woman says.

“This,” Winnie says, “is Tyler Kydd’s sister.”

“I’m sorry,” Dane says. “Where would you like us to sit?”

“In the front,” the woman says, pointing.

James is already sitting there. Dane sits next to James and puts his coat on the seat next to him. Maria and Winnie sit next to the coats.

“Is Tyler here yet?” Winnie asks.

“Is Evie here?” James says.

 

Candace Bushnell began Sex and the City as a column in The New York Observer in 1994; it subsequently became a book and a series on HBO. She is also the author of Four Blondes, Trading Up and Lipstick Jungle, which is being filmed as a pilot for NBC starring Brooke Shields. Ms. Bushnell is also the host of Sex, Success and Sensibility, a live weekly talk show on Sirius Satellite Radio. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, New York City Ballet principal dancer Charles Askegard.

Megalomaniac Movie Star Seeks a Marriageable Mate—or Two