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The Luxe Love Life of Veronica van der Vöorhies

When hard times hit a notable—and note-taking—member of Manhattan’s 1%, she seeks out comfort in warm arms, big and strong, at New York’s Zuccotti Park.

Gramercy Park, Siddhartha Tawadey, 2011. Courtesy the artist and Bose Pacia.

“Zuccotti—It’s Not Just an Imported Pasta Served by Mario at Babbo Anymore”

Darlings! It’s been ages since my last dispatch from the Upper East Side. I had a little trouble with my former amanuensis, who had a habit of interjecting his own unasked-for commentary on my romantic adventures, which I was ignorant of, as I never reviewed my pieces before they were faxed. (So sue me: I didn’t learn computers at Brearley in nineteen-eighty-cough.) I’ve terminated his contract and hired a new scribe who has agreed to type precisely what I dictate—and for a substantially lower fee. Who says the death of journalism is a bad thing?

The other reason I’ve been conspicuously absent from these pages is my divorce to the Banker has been finalized, and I no longer live on the Upper East Side. In fact, I no longer have a fixed address, thanks to his squadron of ruthless lawyers, who saw to it that he kept the Park Avenue penthouse, the East Hampton cottage, the Paris pied-à-terre, the London townhouse, the Aspen lodge, the Malibu beach house, and, pouring artisanal sea salt in the wound, the Newark walk-up. 

So, your faithful correspondent is back on the dating scene again! But I’m finding the romantic climate a little colder than when I was last single and writing my column, in August 2008. Where have all the hedge fund managers, CEOs, derivatives analysts, and even the lowly stockbrokers gone, to paraphrase Pete Singer?

And the meteorological climate is getting chillier, too. But last week, looking for a hot date and a warm bed, I happened upon a news clip on a bank of TVs while killing time at a Radio Shack.

A handsome man, scruffily stubbled and with a hint of the young Daniel Day-Lewis about him, was being interviewed in Zuccotti Park, which the Banker and I used to whistle past nightly in his car service. The sound was off, but from the commotion in the background, it appeared as if half of New York’s eligible bachelors were there, too. Anyone prepared for a cougar attack?

“Well, well—what’s a ruggedly adorable boy like you doing in a tent city like this?”

After asking a person exiting the subway to swipe me in, I hustled down to the park. My Godiva, what a scene! Tents galore! Swirling media! Flashing cameras (I didn’t, unfortunately, spot my good friend Patrick McMullan)! If you half-closed your eyes, which I did, you could mistake it for the last Fashion Week parties I attended.

I wandered through the crowd, keeping an eye out for the YDD-L. But I could hardly get a few feet without some other, less attractive person shouting in my ear about Noah Chompski, Democratic socialites (I could have sworn they were all Republicans), or Anarchy, the hot new Tribeca bistro I’ve yet to visit.

Suddenly, as if parting the haze of patchouli and body odor clinging to hemp clothes, there he was: YDD-L. You could serve caviar on those cheekbones, and months of camping out and subsisting on tofu and brown rice had given him the lean, muscular look that makes my knees go weak (and no, it’s not early-onset osteoporosis!).

He was handing out a stack of pamphlets, so I took one to wipe off my hands—too many unsanitary characters around—and struck up a conversation. 

“Well, well—what’s a ruggedly adorable boy like you doing in a tent city like this?” I asked.

“Making the collective voice of the 99 percent heard in a corporatist plutocracy that handcuffs us,” he said. 

“All I heard was the word ‘handcuffs,’ and if that’s an invitation, then yes, please,” I flirted.

“The stimulus package was a joke,” he continued.

“Honey, you can stimulate me with your package anytime,” I bantered, with a sexy pun I bet no one has thought of before.

“And don’t even get me started on the bailout.”

“Mmm, I wouldn’t mind if you bailed me out,” I purred.

“Huh?” he replied. “Anyway, our demands are simple. I shouldn’t pay more taxes than 37 of America’s biggest corporations did last year—combined. If they’re going to give these corporations and banks billions, they should consider helping out people like me, who have crushing student loans.”

“Well, I thought you had a little student crush on Teacher, and if you get your grades up—wait a minute,” I said.  “Are you telling me you’re in debt?”

“Of course,” he said. “I’m a graduate student in sociology. And my odds of getting a good tenure-track job when I finish my dissertation in six years are minuscule.”

“How do you pay for your apartment?” I asked. “And restaurants? And car service?”

“I don’t,” he said. “I’ve been sleeping in this tent here for weeks.”

He pointed behind him to a flimsy tent flapping in the wind.

“I get all I need to eat at the food station,” he went on. “I can walk to the university from here. What else do you need in life?”

I could think of a few things, but declined to list them. Well, beggars can’t be choosers in the new economy; the businessmen walking past the park looked nearly as haggard as my beloved’s fellow-protesters. So, that night, darlings, I became radicalized in YDD-L’s erected pup tent. And for those who are curious: I discovered he had quite a powerful human megaphone. Mike check, indeed.

Update: My relationship with YDD-L, darlings, folded once his tent did. Until the next encampment!

Teddy Wayne is the author of the novels The Love Song of Jonny Valentine (Free Press) and Kapitoil (Harper Perennial). The winner of a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award, his work frequently appears in the New Yorker, the New York Times, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. More by Teddy Wayne