No line of dialogue ever written was as perfect as one I actually heard on a snowy November night in 1976. I was in a period between relationships and being "fixed up": a term that suggests you are broken and about to be made whole by another piece of damaged crockery. The Krazy glue for this repair was my sister's friend Cynthia, considered the Queen of Upper East Side Match Making. With her reputation at stake she didn't take on just anybody and I'm sure my case was more a tribute to my sister than my standing on the most eligible bachelors list. However Delia Leopold Fournier, as the name suggests, was right up there at the top of New York's most desirable. The Fournier was from her recently ended marriage to a French diplomat, millionaire, playboy, vineyard owner, and was in New York being comforted by her parents in their Park Avenue duplex.
I was watching the first snowfall of the season from the window of my east 74th street walkup when Cynthia called and rhapsodized for 20 minute about Delia, who had agreed to our meeting and was waiting expectantly by the phone. Since I was about to take a walk in the snow, it seemed like a kind of non date, date, so I called and got a hello after the 8th ring, clearly she wasn't waiting by the phone. When I said "Hi this is Bill Persky, Cynthia's friend, would you like to a walk in the snow?" and the silence was so long I thought we had been disconnected. Finally she said,"Why"? I could have handled a no, but "why", caught me off guard; if you don't know why you take a walk in the snow, there is no way to explain it, but I tried, losing my own conviction as I went along. Even the way she listened was intimidating.
Unfortunately, somehow I made it sound like, "a lark" and half an hour later, dressed in jeans an old parka and Clark Chukka boots I entered her apartment building greeted by 4 doormen who were about to direct me to the delivery entrance until I announced I was there for Mrs. Fournier. They obviously didn't approve but rang her bell and announced me. I stood waiting in the grandest lobby I have seen outside of Versailles until she appeared as a tiny speck down the long corridor from the elevators, much like Omar Shariff approaching through the heat wave distortions in Lawrence of Arabia. Finally she arrived dressed for St. Moritz with a pleasant enough face that didn't know how to smile. The doormen stood ready to toss me at her whim.
Once outside I turned left and she asked, actually challenged, why I had decided which way to walk. At that point I was ready to keep going without her, but explained the snow was blowing from the other direction and also there was a nice little bar a couple of blocks down on Lexington. This seemed to satisfy her and she followed. We said little until we got to the bar, but even in silence it was clear she was the most spoiled, arrogant, entitled person I had ever met, to the point that I was actually enjoying it, like visiting some kind of weird behavior museum.
After all the best schools, orthodontia, clothes, horses, and social connections she had moved to France to study art and met Fabrian who courted her in lavish fashion, married her in someone's palace, honeymooned on his yacht, moved her into his Paris town house and continued to keep up with his various business interests and two mistresses.
The evening was like listening to a Danielle Steele book on tape, one of the better ones, I had little to say since we had absolutely nothing in common and I was really caught up in her tale of the international good life. She began to work and soon run her husband's vineyard and knew more about wine than the Gallo Brother, the Christian Brothers with Louie Martini thrown in. That gave me my first opening as I had recently tasted Schramsberg the highly touted champagne from California and asked if she had tried it.
Her response was the best summing up of a character I have ever heard in just one sentence.
After the divorce an old boy friend from L.A. flew her, by private jet, from Paris to spend New Years with a group who would cheer her up. There was a suite waiting at the Bel air, where she could sleep the jet lag away and call him when she was ready for breakfast, he had a surprise for her.
He arrived with a waiter in tow, pushing a serving cart filled with roses surrounding a huge bowl of fresh strawberries and an ice bucket, chilling two bottles of Shramsberg. He had just bought two hundred cases and, knowing what a connoisseur she was, couldn't wait for her opinion. He opened the bottle, poured with a flourish and waited expectantly as she sipped, considered and sipped again; He was on the edge of his chair as she knifed him through the heart with, "Henry, on a hot day in July with a hamburger. Maybe". Take that Noel Coward.