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


"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.

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