READ EXCERPT: 'The Debutante Divorcee,' by Plum Sykes

Plum Sykes brought her readers into the world of privileged Mahattan socialites with her debut novel, "Bergdorf Blondes," while making them laugh, too. She does it again with her second book, "The Debutante Divorcee," where the glamorous newlywed narrator takes up with a far more glamorous new divorcee.

Sykes says she got the idea for the book while covering stories for Vogue magazine.

"I would always see these fab girls arriving out at midnight at Bungalow 8 looking incredible, and I would say, 'who's that?' " Sykes said. "And someone would tell me, 'Oh, she just got divorced yesterday.' And I couldn't believe it. She wasn't at home moping or crying, she was out having the time of her life. And I loved that concept."

Below is an excerpt from the first chapter of the book.

Chapter One: Lost-Husbands Edition

Married girls in New York these days put almost as much effort into losing husbands as they once didinto finding them. It's not uncommon for husbands to be mislaid almost as soon as the honeymoon begins. This is a particular hazard in locations like Capri or Harbour Island, where the glamour quotient of the early-morning beach gang rivals that of a front row at a Valentino couture show. Some husbands, like Jamie Bellangere, get forgotten as early as Barbados airport, an airline terminal so social it is considered perilous for new spouses to pass through even a whole year after marriage. As the twenty-six-and-a-half-year-old former Mrs. Jamie Bellangere always says in her defense, of course she forgot to get Jamie into the hotel's courtesy car! The concierge from Sandy Lane had just called her with a message from the Douglas Blunketts saying that they expected her on "the tub" for dinner at eight! ("the tub" being Blunkett slang for their 150-foot sailing yacht, Private Lives). Meanwhile, that lethal little airstrip in Mustique is even more notorious than Barbados: marriage vows tend to slip a new bride's mind right at the bamboo baggage carousel. This is usually because Mick Jagger has just invited her to dinner, which tends to happen the second a new wife's plane has landed.

The social demographics of Careyes, Mexico, are such that there is no place better suited to the exotic pleasures of the Divorce Honeymoon. A sexually scandalous vacation is the newfound, but nevertheless inalienable, privilege of the debutante divorcées -- New York's young, social, newly unwed girls. It must be spent in a spot where the atmosphere is uplifting, the views are spectacular, acupuncture and exercise facilities abound, and conversation topics are lighter than a soufflé. Popular subjects range from "How far did you swim today?" "Did you get to the island?" to "Can I wear white jeans for dinner?" and "Are you invited to the Goldsmiths' for New Year?" There are so many parties every night it's literally impossible to stay home unless you are the one throwing the party. Then, everyone's permanently drunk because the only thing anyone drinks all day are miceladas -- a make out friendly mix of beer, lemonade, and tequila. To be blunt, Careyes is the ideal spot for the gorgeous divorcée because she can have sex with a different hedge fund manager every night if she wishes. I met Lauren Blount on the beach on Labor Day. You know how it is in Careyes. You're best friends in five minutes flat because you're both wearing Pucci bikinis. Lauren was one week into her Divorce Honeymoon, and she told me everything in a minute. Still, that didn't mean I really knew a thing about her.

"The day of my divorce was sort of glamorous, actually," said Lauren from under the wide-brimmed black sunhat she had found in her canvas Hermès tote. "Like the hat? Yves Saint Laurent gave it to my mom in 1972."

"It's gorgeous," I said.

Lauren's beach look was impossibly chic. Her lithe, petite body was a delicious cocoa brown, which set off to perfection the chocolate and turquoise geometric print of her bandeau bikini. Her toes were manicured an understated flesh pink, and her brunette locks, gleaming like espresso beans, fell in loose waves around her shoulders and grazed the sand when she moved. Six long strands of tiny seed pearls dropped gracefully from her delicate throat, and she had three gold bangles that she'd bought in the souk in Marrakesh pushed up around her forearm.

"Mama would murder me if she knew I was wearing her pearls on the beach," said Lauren, noticing me looking at them. "The saltwater ruins them. But I just felt very Tender Is the Night when I woke up today, and I had to wear them. I'm totally into 1920s Riviera chic, aren't you?"

"I adore it," I agreed.

"God, it's so hot. There's too many people here," sighed Lauren, gazing along Playa Rosa. There were maybe three people on the beach.

"Why don't you come up to the house?"

"I'd love to," I said, getting up from my lounger.

"We can have lunch and hang out all afternoon. The Casa's got the most divine sunken living room. It's to die," she said, gathering up her tote and slipping on a pair of gold leather thong sandals.

It's generally agreed in Careyes that without a sunken drawing room one would die, socially. Not a soul will visit if you don't have one. If you do, it must simultaneously offer shade from a partial, immaculately thatched roof while being open to the breezes of the ocean, even if that means the Moorish antiques are eaten away at an alarming rate by sea salt. Casa Papa, as Lauren nicknamed her father's house, is a whitewashed, sun-bleached Mexican castle with a bright blue pool washing around it like a moat. When we arrived, Lauren led me through the house and out into the sunken drawing room. That second, a maid dressed crisply in a blue and-white-striped uniform -- she would have looked more at home on the Upper East Side -- appeared with a turquoise chiffon robe in her hand that Lauren threw straight over her bikini. Moments later another maid arrived bearing a tray filled with just-made quesadillas and guacamole, glass plates, and candy-pink linen napkins.

"Mmmmm! Thank you, Maria," said Lauren. "Puede hacer nos el favor de traer dos limonadas heladas?"

"Si, señorita," nodded Maria.

Maria bustled about setting a low lacquered table, then disappeared inside to track down the lemonade.

"God, this is nice," I said, throwing my beach bag on the floor and flopping onto a deep sofa while Lauren curled up in a wicker chair. In the center of the room the huge red trunk of an ancient, twisted candelabro cactus grew up to the ceiling. From where we were sitting we could just make out a tiny figure sunbathing on the terrace of the house opposite.

"That's my cousin, Tinsley Bellangere," said Lauren, squinting. "I can't believe she's lying out like that -- so dangerous in this heat. And after her whole family died of skin cancer! She's had all her freckles lasered off. Tinsley's on her divorce honeymoon too, which is nice for me. I call her Miss Mini-Marriage. She was married to Jamie less than three days, which is something of an achievement, no? Anyway, do you still want to hear about the divorce day?"

"Absolutely," I replied. Who could resist? There's nothing like hearing about another girl's love life to make three hours pass in three seconds.

"I got my divorce papers signed. I guess that was three weeks ago now. The biggest thing in the divorce was the dog, Boo Boo. That took months. I got him. Anyway, that night I decided to celebrate with Milton Holmes -- he's the family decorator, and my best friend, sort of. Milton was obsessed with going to the private room at Harry's Downtown, even though it was like, August twelfth and I knew there wouldn't be a soul there. I was dressed head to toe in black frayed Lanvin with my great grandmother's ivory barrette in my hair. I thought I was absolutely it -- but when I look back it's like I was dressing for a funeral -- oh, thank you so much," said Lauren as Maria returned with a jug of iced lemonade and two tall glasses. "Sorry. God, I'm going to have to have a cigarette."

Lauren delved into her tote and pulled out a little green crocodile case the size of a lipstick holder. The silver-lined box contained two "platinums," as she calls them -- two Marlboro Ultra Lights. She lit one, then left it untouched on the side of the ashtray.

"So here I am in my divorcée look, and Milton was like, 'We have to be upstairs, everyone's upstairs,' when actually there wasn't a soul up there, except Beyoncé or Lindsay Lohan, or some other girl of the minute everyone's so tired of they don't even count. Well, actually, I love Lindsay Lohan again. I want to be Lindsay Lohan most of the time, don't you?"

Lauren paused and waited for my answer. This was obviously a serious question.

"Wouldn't it be exhausting to be Lindsay Lohan every day, though?" I said. That many changes of sunglasses must be punishing.

"I'd love the attention. Anyway, I digress. Milton and I went upstairs, and I ordered strawberry tequila after strawberry tequila and ..." Lauren paused and looked around, as though making sure no one else was listening. Then she whispered, "... and next thing I know, this complete stranger sent over a glass of vintage champagne."

"Who was he?" I asked.

"Well. It was ... you're not going to believe it. It was Sanford Berman."

"No," I gasped.

"Totally. And he was celebrating his third company going public or something crazy like that, but I had no idea who he was because I stopped reading the papers recently so I don't have to read about my divorce. Milton was flipping, Sanford's his total icon. Milton said, 'Everyone thinks Rupert Murdoch's huge, but Sanford's so huge he owns Rupert Murdoch.'"

Lauren's cell phone started beeping. She picked it up and turned it off.

"It's him. It's always him," said Lauren ever so blasé.

"You should have answered. I don't mind," I said.

"Actually I need a break from him for now. Here's the thing. He's getting way too obsessed with me. Sanford is seventy-one-and-a-half years old. I can't date an antique. Sure, I like antiques, but not as boyfriends. So, where was I?" asked Lauren.

"The drink from Sanford came over," I reminded her.

"Well, I downed that glass of champagne, and then Sanford himself came over and started talking to me. He was so charming -- in the way that old things are. He thought it was very 'modern' that I was partying like that on my divorce day. So I was like, 'Ok, let's get another round of shots.' I can't really remember the night well at all," she said, with a coy expression, "except it turns out Sanford's married, but he's asking if he can take me home. So I let him give me a ride. On the way he asked me what I do, so I told him about how I occasionally buy and sell one-off estate jewelry, and he said he wanted to buy some for his wife. I thought that was sweet."

Sanford had called Lauren at 8 A.M. the next morning, asking to view the jewels. He showed up at her place at half past ten that night. They hung out until midnight, and finally Lauren asked Sanford if he wanted to see the jewels.

"He said to me, 'Not really. I just think you're amusing.' Can you believe?" said Lauren, her eyes widening cartoonishly to exaggerate the point. "God, I have to actually smoke a cigarette at this moment in the tale," she added, starting over with another. "Then he started sending his driver over every morning with the Wall Street Journal, a latte, and a warm croissant from Patisserie Claude, at which point I decided being a newly unwed sucks a lot less than being a newlywed. God, my divorce honeymoon is the best," she sighed contentedly as she sunned herself. "I love being divorced."

It would be impossible not to love being divorced if you were Lauren Blount, of the Chicago Hamill Blounts, who pretty much invented Chicago, depending on who you ask. (There's the Marshall Field's camp and the Hamill Blount camp, and never the twain shall dine in the Chicago Racquet Club together, if you get my meaning.) The rumor is that the Hamill Blounts own more art than the Guggenheims, more real estate than McDonald's, and that Lauren's mother's jewelry vaults are the reason Colombia is running low on emeralds. It had only been three weeks since Lauren's divorce, but ever since, she'd been going out like crazy. It amused her to dress up in her Chanel couture rehearsal-dinner dress, which was very heavy on the white Lesage lace, and one of her three engagement rings. She was instantly nominated for the Best Dressed List but brushed it off as a silly joke. However, it was actually the consensus among the Pastis set that Lauren truly deserved the honor. (Most of the time a sickening combination of admiration and envy makes the girls who hang out at Pastis physically unable to admit that anyone deserves to be on the BDL, especially if they were in the same class at Spence.) Lauren oozed rich-girl chic. She wasn't extremely tall, but because she was so delightfully proportioned, with tiny fine wrists and arms, she could pull off virtually anything. Her exquisite legs, which drew so much envy among her set, "reflect years of private ballet instruction," she always said. She looked rather like a cleaned-up, freshly laundered version of her icon -- the young Jane Birkin: she had the long chestnut locks, the eye-grazing fringe, and the year-round tan (easy when there's a family home in every resort from Antigua to Aspen). When casually dressed she exuded a natural glamour that was low on bling and high on class. Her daytime uniform consisted of long, skinny pants from Marni, little lace blouses by Yves Saint Laurent, and minuscule, shrunken leather jackets from Rick Owens. If she wore vintage, it had to be Ossie Clarke or Dior, and she would fly to London especially to stock up on the best things at the Dover Street Market. Dressing up, though, was Lauren's real obsession. If you dropped by mid-afternoon, she was just as likely to be clad in a cerise organza cocktail frock by Christian Lacroix as she was to be in her Pilates leotard (a hangover from the ballerina days). Her collection of ball gowns -- Balmain couture, McQueen couture, original Givenchy couture -- was a matter of some envy among New York's social set and was stored in a climate-controlled walk-in closet that was the size of a small studio apartment. Gowns were "gifted" to Lauren on a weekly basis by everyone from Oscar de la Renta to Peter Som, but she always returned them, however beautiful. She felt it was tacky not to pay for clothes, saying, "I give to charity. I don't take it." Her great weakness, though, was real jewels, particularly when they were most inappropriate -- there was nothing that amused Lauren more than wearing a priceless Indian ruby in bed.

"Maybe I should invite Tinsley over here so she can get some shade. She's crazy to be sunbathing like that," said Lauren a little later. "It must be the divorce. Tinsley thinks she's having fun, but she's getting more deranged by the second. She's changing bikinis seven times a day now, which has got to be a sign of mental instability. I love her, and I want her to be OK, not getting chemo."

Lauren clicked open her little silver cell and called Tinsley, who said she'd be over in ten minutes. The bikini-clad figure waved from her terrace and disappeared from view.

"They always take that place over Labor Day. You'll like her," said Lauren. "What are you doing here in Careyes anyway?"

"I'm on ... honeymoon," I said unsurely.

"Real honeymoon?" asked Lauren.

"Yes," I answered reluctantly.


"Sort of," I mumbled, lowering my eyes. (The floor is an excellent place to look, I always find, when admitting one has lost one's husband about three seconds after the wedding.)

"Sounds a lot like my divorce honeymoon. It's really immaterial whether you have a husband with you or not."

Lauren giggled and caught my eye. When she saw my face she abruptly stopped. "Oh! I'm sorry! You look so upset."

"I'm fine," I insisted. Hoping she wouldn't notice, I wiped a stray tear from my nose with the back of my hand.

"What happened?" said Lauren sympathetically.

"Well ... huh," I sighed.

Maybe I should tell Lauren the whole hideous story. She was almost a complete stranger, but then lots of people pay a fortune to tell a stranger their most intimate thoughts in therapy every week. I was beyond embarrassed, I realized, as I told Lauren my sorry tale. The fact was, my honeymoon" felt about as romantic as solitary confinement right now. My new husband, Hunter, had been forced to leave on the second day of our vacation to close a business deal. Now, I have never been one of those girls who dreamed about her wedding day all her life, but I had dreamed about my honeymoon: it was meant to be the most delicious, sexy two weeks of your life, the vacation version of heaven. When Hunter had explained that he had to leave, in a terrible rush, I behaved in a very grown-up way, I thought, and told him I understood. But inside I was desolate. Hunter promised to deliver another honeymoon, but a substitute vacation held no appeal. How do you get that blissedout, just-married feeling six months after the wedding? By definition, you can only feel just-married for about a minute. Honeymoons have a small window of opportunity, bliss being as transient as it is. Hunter had been gone three days now, and having felt stoic for about three hours, I had quickly evolved to feeling utterly tragic. The trouble with being alone on your honeymoon is that there is oodles of time to wallow. Reading trashy magazines full of celebrity breakups doesn't help.

My self-pity was only exacerbated by the maid at our beach house bringing romantic breakfast trays for two each morning, covered in flowers and Mexican hearts wishing us good luck. I couldn't face telling her that Hunter had left and might not get back. I was so ashamed about the whole thing, I hadn't even called a friend to commiserate. What would people think? Hunter and I had known each other only six months and had gotten married on the spur of the moment, in Hawaii. I could imagine the gossip already: she didn't have a clue what she was getting into; she hardly knew him; apparently he left some other girlfriend on vacation ... My mind was bedeviled by hideous thoughts -- and disappointment. Ah! Disappointment! It's the worst affliction. It's so dreary, and you can't do anything to improve it; it just has to fade away ... over years, I told Lauren gloomily, maybe decades ...

"Stop overreacting. It's not that bad," interjected Lauren. "At least you've got a husband. This is an exercise in ego-loss for you and you're indulging yourself."

Ego-loss? What about husband-loss?

"You're the first person I've told," I admitted as tears suddenly flooded my eyes. "It's such a ghastly start to a marriage. I'm bloody furious, and so angry with Hunter. I know he has to make money, and work, but ... oh, God."

"Here," said Lauren, rummaging in her tote. She handed me a lace-trimmed, white silk handkerchief with her initials embroidered on it.

"Thanks," I said, taking it. It was criminal to wipe one's nose on such an exquisite item, but I went ahead. "This is so pretty."

"You get them at Leron. Special order. They fly to Chicago to see my mother. It's all by appointment only. You should see the linens. Blissful. Why don't I order some for you next time? Would that cheer you up?"

"I guess," I said. That was sweet of Lauren, I thought. If I was destined to spend my marriage in tears, I supposed white lace would be much more pleasant to weep into than Charmin toilet paper.

"Look at it this way: most marriages start with an incredible honeymoon and go downhill from there. At least this way the only place you can go is up. I mean, it can't get any worse, right?"

I dabbed at my eyes with Lauren's handkerchief. Through my tears, I somehow managed a laugh.

"Don't obsess about this, or you'll really ruin things. Honeymoons are seriously overrated. They're just so pressured, like birthdays. You're supposed to wake up excited every morning, and feel crazy in love and all floaty every minute of it, and guess what? You've got menstrual cramps that day, or you've been eaten alive by mosquitoes, and the last thing you feel like is fucking each other like mad, like you're supposed to want to."

"Hey, Lauren," came a girlish voice from behind us. Tinsley Bellangere, ex-wife of the mislaid Jamie, appeared at the archway to the sunken drawing room. She was outrageously pretty, like a milk-fed farm girl with class. She was twenty-eight years old, had flat blonde hair to her elbow, a few perfectly located post-laser freckles, and sky-blue eyes. Her skin was evenly tanned, and she was wearing a fitted yellow satin cocktail dress with a slashed skirt that streamed beautifully about her legs in the breeze. She wasn't dressed for the beach; she was dressed for a benefit. Lauren made the introductions and then said, "Sylvie just got married." She patted the seat beside her."You always look so pretty, Tinsley."

"You look better," said Tinsley as she flopped down, all legs and satin and hair. Then she looked at me and said, "You want to hear my secret of a happy marriage? Agree with your husband on everything. Then do whatever you like. It worked really well for Jamie and me. We separated very amicably."

With that Tinsley stood up and made her way over to the drinks tray in the corner. "I'll be having a neat tequila. Anyone else?"

"Love one," I said. Maybe being drunk in the afternoon would improve my non-honeymoon.

"Everyone thinks I'm crazy when I drink these in the tea area at The Carlyle at noon," said Tinsley, handing one each to Lauren and me. Then she tossed her blonde mane back and downed her shot in one.

"Let's go for a swim," said Lauren. "I'm baking."

"I can't. I'm too tired," said Tinsley with a wink. She stretched out on a huge white mattress piled with giant cushions on the floor. "I'm going to lie here and watch you exhaust yourselves while I eat cactus ice cream or something."

"I'll come," I said, following Lauren into the water. Maybe a swim would help dissipate my grim disappointment, I thought, as I splashed into the pool. The water was blood-heat hot, the kind of hotel-pool temperature that girls love and men abhor.

"Twenty loops round the house!" commanded Lauren, splashing off.

"Twenty?" I shouted after her, surprised.

"Absolutely.You've got to have goals in life. Personally I am a very goal-oriented person," said Lauren, between strokes. I caught up with her, and we swam leisurely side by side. Lauren barely drew breath as she paddled and continued chatting.

"I mean even after my divorce and everything, which, by the way, is freely available for the entire world to read in great detail on Google, I said, me being me and goals being goals, I've got to set myself a post-divorce goal. You know, a serious purpose in life. Something to aim for."

As we swam around the moat, I peeked into the guest rooms that opened out onto it.They were whitewashed, and mosquito nets were draped over immaculately made-up beds. Some of the rooms had bright yellow flowers climbing around the windows, or antique Mexican icons on the walls. I started to feel a little cheerier -- who wouldn't?

"So, Lauren," I said, perking up, "what is your goal?"

"To date like I'm in college again. No relationships, no falling in love. I just want to have fun, and not think beyond that."

Her reply had an unwavering certainty about it. Lauren stopped paddling and turned around to face me. Standing in the aqua water, she looked both amused and determined, as she said, "So, my specific goal, and I am very clear about this, because it's insanely straightforward, is that I must make out with five men between Labor Day and Memorial Day. Five ultra-diverse, top-quality, commitment-free make outs. And I shall celebrate each one in an appropriate manner. With a jewel. Or a piece of art, or a fur coat. I've already put this heavenly Revillon sable on hold in Paris, as a matter of fact. One kiss and it's mine."

With that Lauren dived under the water. When she resurfaced, the drops on her face twinkling in the sun, I asked, "God, do you think you can find five make outs?"

The fact is, Lauren is beautiful and sexy but she was thirty-one years old -- antique by New York standards. After the age of thirty-three or thirty-four, the Manhattan male abandons his peers altogether, seeking out girls in their early to mid-twenties at the absolutely most ancient. The really sad ones give up on the New York girl altogether and exclusively date nineteen-year-old models from South Beach. Anyway, my point is that literally no one I knew over the age of thirty was getting to make out with one man over the space of six months, let alone five.

"I'm setting myself a realistic target. But I have heard," replied Lauren, gliding her fingers rather aimlessly in a circle in the water, "from other divorcées, some of whom are my friends, that it may not be overly optimistic to expect in excess of five. Oh! Wait! My other big ambition is to connect my own surround sound. Louis used to do all of that. I'm absolutely convinced I can do it on my own, however long it takes. Now, what's your goal?"

That was one thing I was very clear about.

"I want to be like the Eternity couple," I laughed.

Secretly, I'd always hoped that matrimony would be like the Eternity ad: a very gorgeous you, a hot him, and oodles of vanilla-colored cashmere sweaters. If possible my whole marriage would take place on a beach in East Hampton, preferably in a flattering black-and-white palette.

"If only I had had such noble aims, maybe my marriage would have lasted," shrieked Lauren. She hooted with laughter. "I gave up the Eternity dream at age eight. You are so cute. But I've got a tip for you."

"What?" I asked.

"Your goal should be keeping your husband away from the Husband Huntresses."

I frowned at her, confused.

"You know," explained Lauren. "Those wicked girls who only pursue husbands. You only become aware of them once you're married."

"Stop it." I giggled.

"Be warned." Our swim had now come full circle, and we were back in front of the sunken drawing room. Tinsley beckoned to us to come in.

"Mojitos await," she yelled.

"Well, that was only one lap, but let's go hang with her or she'll start hyperventilating," said Lauren, climbing the shallow steps up to the drawing room. She grabbed a towel from a neat pile on a wicker table and handed one to me.

"God, that swim was lovely," I said, drying myself off. I took one of the mojitos and sipped it. It was so refreshing.

"Isn't the pool genius?" said Lauren.

She curled up in her towel onto the couch opposite Tinsley, and I sat in a rocking chair painted a hot Latin blue. I noticed that the back of the chair was inlaid with exquisite mother-of-pearl.

"What do you do,Tinsley?" I asked.

Tinsley seemed like such a character, I wanted to get to know her. "Nothing," she said brightly.

"Don't you want a job?" I asked.

At this Tinsley shook with laughter. Then she said, dead serious, "I can't work, because I can't dress for day. I can only dress for evening. So obviously office life doesn't work for me. I can only dress either for the gym or for a party."

She stood up and twirled around in her cocktail frock. "I mean, look at me. It's two o'clock in the afternoon, and this is the most low-key I can go. The only career I could do is be an anchor on MTV, but I don't really aspire to that. It's so old. I mean, whereforart Serena Altschul now? The other thing that's really in the way of my career is my mom. I have to be available for two-hour conversations every day to discuss family problems, then I have to be available to go to Palm Beach at a moment's notice. I tried to have a job once working for Charlie Rose, but I was hardly ever there, and on the few unfortunate occasions that I was, I was making personal calls the whole time."

I laughed, and as I did, a pang of guilt hit me. Here I was, 100 percent amused on my non-honeymoon. Gosh, I thought as I sipped my mojito, shouldn't I be feeling more wistful right now?

"It's terrible for her, isn't it, Tinsley darling?" joked Lauren.

Then she turned to me and said,"So. When do we get to meet Hunter? Is he ever coming back? Or is it reckless abandonment, honeymoon-style?"

"You'll meet him in New York. But he's going to be traveling a lot to Paris for the TV show he just did this deal for," I said. With a hint of humor I even managed to add, "the deal he wrecked our honeymoon over."

"We can keep each other company while Hunter's gone. Whatever anyone thinks, I get lonesome sometimes," said Lauren, looking suddenly vulnerable.

Later on, when the sun had started to set, and, I must admit, we were all slightly tipsy from the cocktails and heat, the conversation got more intense.

"Do you ever think about getting married again?" I asked Lauren. She was lazing in a hammock, being rocked gently by the wind. "Yes. I think I won't," said Lauren.

"Quite right," agreed Tinsley, who was mixing yet another cocktail. "Married couples are so dull."

"I know," I agreed. "It's terrible."

The fact is, a married girlfriend is never as fun as she was when she was single. One of my secret -- and, I admit, terribly superficial -- fears about getting married had been that I would become as dull as my dull married girlfriends.

"So, Lauren, why did you break up with Louis?" I asked. Lauren sighed. Then she said, "We broke up ... because, hmmm ..." She paused, as though unsure of the answer. "I guess I thought I was getting married for the right reasons -- because I was in love, and Louis had gotten me a darling Van Cleef ring, but the truth is, no one should get married just because they are in love."

"That's not very romantic," I said.

"Marriage isn't a very romantic proposition," declared Lauren. "It's a practical arrangement. Sorry, but it's the truth. I figure if I avoid the marriage bit, I can still have the romance. But you look like you are so in love. Don't listen to a word I say. It's different for everyone. I don't have a clue."

"I'm sure you do," I said.

"OK, well if you want to know what not to do," continued Lauren, "I'd start with don't have a wedding for four hundred. It completely clouds your judgment. I knew the whole thing was going be a downer the day of the wedding. Can you believe?"


"There we all were up in Maine, at this nice sort of private hippie island my mom's family has had forever. It's got a couple of cute cottages. I remember looking out to the ocean the day before the wedding and seeing a crystal chandelier going by on a barge for the tent. It looked like they'd stolen it from the ballroom at the Waldorf. The thing is, I hate chandeliers of a certain type -- I had to literally move out of my parents' place on Park when I came to New York because there were chandeliers everywhere -- and here I was getting married and trying to leave the chandeliers behind and the chandeliers were still coming after me," Lauren recalled. "It was all wrong," she shuddered. "The whole thing was just crazy."

Lauren slid languidly off the hammock and started rummaging around in her bag. A few seconds later she held up an exquisite pair of Victorian cameo earrings. She expertly pushed the posts through her ears, saying, "I do love wearing my baubles on the beach. Don't you think these are very Talitha Getty, Tinsley?"

"So Talitha. I worship her style. If you are going to die, make it an overdose and everyone will worship your fashion sense forever," she declared.

"That's an awful thing to say," insisted Lauren. Then, looking slightly nostalgic, she returned to the subject of her marriage, adding, "Finally, one day I went on vacation and ... well, the truth is I just never came home. Everyone was frantic. When I think back," she concluded, with a mischievous smile, "I'm really appalled at my own behavior. I've never met anyone as terrible as me."