Hate them or love them, trophy wives make the world go ’round in Heather Thomas' novel “Trophies.” Thomas, through her marriage to an entertainment attorney, is no stranger to what’s behind the doors of these influential women, and the powerful men and money to which they have access. Read this excerpt and take a satiric romp through the over-the-top world of L.A.’s mega-rich “Second Wives Club.”
To avoid further temptation, she stared at the floor. White dot at two o’clock. Marion wasn’t the only one who saw the small white pill lying on the floor of the Barney’s shoe department. Craig-the-stylist saw it too.
“And what have we here?” he said, snatching it up and holding it pincered, for all to see.
“Look, Marion, someone dropped a pill!”
Marion immediately noticed the cacophony of lusty foraging begin to die down.
Craig plopped down beside her, scrutinizing the tiny tablet, like a jeweler.
“Think it’s a Benzo?”
Around them, various purses were discreetly unsnapped and unzipped.
“Or maybe an Adrerol?”
Pockets were patted, glasses cases looked into; one woman quietly unfolded a tissue from her pocket.
“Oooh. It might be an Oxy!”
Several necks craned. Some women stared directly.
Weary of the amateur PDR, Marion leaned over and took a look.
“It’s melatonin, Craig.”
Craig frowned and tossed the pill back in the bullpen where it remained unclaimed. Shopping and socializing resumed. He remained squished in beside her.
“Yeah, but did you check out the panic? Talk about a suspended moment in time. Frozen Trophy wives, as far as the eye could see. Just look at ‘em, Marion! The most pampered poodles on earth and wealthy beyond a care in the world. Why the f--- do any of you need to medicate?”
Marion was used to the prejudice. It went with the territory. She also knew Craig was trying to embarrass her because he was still pissed she dumped him for that genius girl Anna Wintour recommended. She didn’t give a rat’s ass. The pill wasn’t hers and Craig wasn’t that witty.
(He had no idea what embarrassed her.)
At that moment, there were at least four women in the shoe department who passed gossip faster than semiconductors. Marion smiled and matched his volume.
“Wow. You really do hate your clients, Craig.”
“I never said that.”
“You implied it. You went straight for the doofus generalization: You think any wealthy wife is a useless consuming a--hole, incapable of ever comprehending human suffering.”
She could tell he wanted to clap his hand over her mouth and shove her beneath the seat cushions but store security would be on him in seconds. Craig could only contort and hiss for mercy.
She lowered her volume. After all, she’d changed clothes in front of him hundreds of times. Being naked with a guy had to count for something.
“Whatever keeps you warm at night.”
“Housebound shopaholics keep me warm at night. But ya gotta admit, if there was ever a poster child for schadenfreude, it would be an unhappy Beverly Hills Trophy Wife. I mean, you guys chose the gilded cage; no real power, iron-clad pre-nups and all.”
Not that witty at all.
“‘No real power’ … mmm. Let’s just take a second to think about all the politicians, environmental causes, social programs and legislations, spiritual leaders, medical treatments and research, schools, universities, libraries, hospitals, museums, performing arts centers, preserved architecture, disaster relief, artists trends, schools of thought and moral causes that would never have gained traction without the attention, influence and seed money from ‘powerless’ Trophy Wives. I’d call any demographic group which directs billions of dollars in charitable funds, kinda powerful.”
“Ah, yes. ‘The Late Thirties Hyper-drive.’ I really must publish my theory. It’s the other biological clock.”
“Oh, yes, think: No matter how many bras you burn, women are still socialized to compete against each other for attention from men. The richer the man, the more vicious the competition. You Trophies possess a monstrous competitive hyper-drive when it comes to beating out other broads for billionaires. But what does a Trophy do with her humongous competitive force once she’s snagged her man, popped out the kids and placed them in private status-schools? ‘Make the World a Better Place.’ Why? Because you’re all either losing sexual attraction, over-entitled or looking for an excuse to dress up and throw yourselves a party.”
Poor Craig. He never scratched deep enough.
“Losing sexual attraction? As in, trading wolf-whistles for service props?”
Marion slowly stretched and recrossed legs that could have been hand-tooled by a sex maniac. There were only three straight men (husbands) in the vicinity, all automatically gaped. One even bumbled into the Prada display, sending boots, slingbacks, pumps and satin dress sandals clacking onto the floor.
“Your hypothesis has more holes than Dick Cheney’s heart. One, this is Los Angeles and the women you’ve chosen to malign are all Rich with a capital R, meaning unlimited access to the best of the best.” (Marion knew of several bodies and faces in this town with a longer half-life than uranium. But she wasn’t about to name names.) “Two, most Trophies as you call them, are unfairly genetically gifted to begin with.” (A-hole smug, but he asked for it.) Three, there are enough ass-kissing personal shoppers / florists / designers / trainers / party-planners / agents / salesmen / journalists / assistants / hairdressers / gigolos / stylists and if need be, construction sites to make any of us feel attractive into our graves.”
“Okay, smarty-thong, you’ve got to admit you’re over-entitled.”
“I admit nothing. I do believe I can achieve anything I want if I really go for it. Isn’t that what the feminist movement taught us? The money might come from a patriarchal source, but charitable donations are almost always directed from a matriarchal source.”
“Because you want to dance, yak and compare Vera Wangs.”
“Honey, some of us throw parties when we change the color of our highlights. (Patti Fink.) I’ve never needed an excuse to make a good time, thank-you-very-much. But back to your crack about ‘no real power.’ Motivation aside, a pretty big chunk of the world goes round, thanks to us poodles.
“You’re only as powerful as your pre-nuptial is weak.”
(Take a second to relish favorite sentence in the universe.)
Excerpted from “Trophies.” Copyright (c) 2008 by Heather Thomas. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins. Read more from Trophies.