Commentary Magazine


You Could Also Love a Rich Girl

The week after Ronald Block, my associate editor of two years, left to take a job at Newsweek, I put an ad in the New York Times classifieds. “Wanted,” it read, “editor for small-circulation political weekly of liberal tendencies. Duties include writing editorials, soliciting manuscripts, working with contributors’ copy, proofreading. Benefits. Modest salary to begin.” The magazine’s name did not appear, and the return address was a P.O. box.

I received 158 responses. Perhaps the most astonishing came from a plastic surgeon who claimed to be making upward of a million dollars a year but had to stoke himself in the morning with two shots of bourbon in order to begin, as he called it, “the day’s carvery.” More than 30 lawyers applied. Nine among them, in notes accompanying their resumes, remarked that salary was not a problem. Another respondent, a senior partner at Goldman Sachs, offered to buy the magazine outright without even knowing its name, adding that he would be perfectly content, even as the owner, to hold down a secondary editorial position.

After sifting through the mound I set up interviews with seven candidates who I thought showed serious potential. All were under thirty: what with the low pay, it seemed sensible to hire someone just starting out, and I wanted a person not yet fully formed, someone I could mold to the needs of the magazine.

In the end I chose a young man named Sanford Aronson. He was then twenty-seven, from St. Louis. He had gone to Brown, dropped out of Harvard Law after deciding that the law wasn’t for him, and then worked briefly for McKinsey, the consulting firm, which gave him a chance at the big bucks. But in the end, or so he said in our interview, money wasn’t his main objective, at least not now. What interested him more was gaining insight into how the world really worked, and he thought an editorial job on a serious magazine might be an excellent place to start. Not that he expected me to hire him so that he could continue his education: he had been reading high-brow journals since he was an undergraduate, and he thought that in time he could make a genuine contribution to this one. And then he offered an impressive critique of the magazine, showing a brilliant grasp of its strengths and weaknesses (touching on the latter with what I would call a tactful candor). I said I would get back to him, but the job, clearly, was his before he left my office. Only later in the afternoon did I realize that he never even asked about the salary.

As for me, I should say right off that I have very little interest in how the world really works. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to know, but the older I get the more complex life seems, and the less I hold out hope for anything like a unified vision of the world, let alone how it works. I began working here, in the same job I was now offering to Sanford Aronson, when I was twenty-four, close to 30 years ago. Although I had a chance to leave in the early 1980’s to work for the New York Times in its “News of the Week in Review” section, I didn’t go for it. This, I suppose, was the decisive move I never made—I’ve heard it said that everyone has one such move—though whether I would ever have climbed very high on the greasy pole at the Times, I cannot say.

I married young, and Charlene and I had three daughters. Today, all but the last, Rachael, now in medical school, are out and on their own. Charlene teaches special education in a public school in Kew Gardens, Queens; we live in an attached house in Flushing. What’s left for me? Aside from the pleasure of practicing the craft of editing and enjoying the accomplishments of my three girls, I’m content to be astonished by whatever surprises life, and human nature, toss my way. Which brings me back to Sanford Aronson, or Sandy, as he asked to be called.

Small, fine-boned, with thin brown hair, Sandy gave an impression of extreme tidiness. Even at the end of the day in our dusty offices on 17th Street, he looked only recently emerged from a shower. He was also, I soon discovered, a very quick study. He turned out to have a deft hand at fixing poorly written manuscripts, and was particularly skilled at convincing their authors of the good sense of his (sometimes quite radical) changes. At editorial conferences he spoke little at first, yet always made points that needed to be taken seriously. Very early I began to sense that, before long, he would outgrow us and move on to greater things.

_____________

 

Generally I don’t socialize with my colleagues—no special reason, except that I much prefer an evening watching a movie on television at home to arguing about movies or, even worse, reviews of movies, in a room filled with people for whom altogether too much is at stake in the Tightness of their opinions. But when we received an invitation to a dinner party marking the engagement of Sanford Joshua Aronson to Jennifer Daphne Kaiser-man at her father’s apartment on Park Avenue, I felt we ought to go. I knew that Sandy had been living—so far as I knew, living alone—in the West Village, and he had said nothing about having a girlfriend. But then at work we hardly ever talked about our private lives, and he certainly owed me no explanations. When I told him we planned to attend, he returned an odd, sheepish smile.

Sandy’s prospective father-in-law Bernie Kaiserman was, I discovered, the Bernie Kaiserman. His specialty was buying and selling businesses—enormous businesses—and forming complicated combinations, spin-offs, and conglomerates. His first wife, I later learned, had died of breast cancer when Jennifer, an only child, was fourteen. After a too-quick second marriage to a very young woman, whom he bought off after less than a year, he was now married to an Argentinean, Jewish it was said, and clearly, from the photographs I had seen of the two of them in Vanity Fair, very high-maintenance.

He lived in a penthouse triplex formerly owned by Helena Rubinstein. In the elevator with us on the way up was another couple who introduced themselves as Sandy’s parents, just in from St. Louis. A small man, bald, the father—“Call me Ira,” he insisted—owned three dry-cleaning shops. Janet Aronson, who was wearing a mink jacket, didn’t get a chance to say much before we were deposited at the Kaiserman penthouse and two young men in tuxedos took our coats. Ira Aronson patted the hair at the side of his head, straightened his tie, exhaled in a whistle, and, leaning toward me, said in a low voice, “I used to kid Sandy that you could also love a rich girl. But, Jesus, I never expected anything like this.”

You didn’t have to be from St. Louis to be impressed. The foyer led directly into a large parlor, along whose walls hung a vast number of 19th-century oils. I counted no fewer than six Renoirs and three Monets. I don’t know enough about furniture to describe the contents of the room, but the effect was very French, suggesting a Louis of not too high numerals. More young men in tuxedos took our orders for drinks—ginger ale for the Aronsons—while others passed among us with silver trays laden with hors d’oeuvres.

“Ah, at last,” said a man with powerfully curly black hair and very strong white teeth. He was deeply tanned and beautifully turned out. “The mehutonim,” he said. “Bernie Kaiserman. Please, make yourself at home. Mi casa su casa.” Kaiserman already had an arm around Mr. and Mrs. Aronson.

Ira introduced Charlene and me.

“My son-in-law’s boss,” Bernie said, holding out a hand. “A pleasure. Tell me, is the kid good at what he does, whatever the hell it is?” As we shook hands he firmly squeezed my elbow with his free hand.

“He’s very good,” I said. “Terrific, in fact.”

“Funny he wanted to work for you. No insult intended, but I could have gotten him a job at one of Sy Newhouse’s rags, or with Time Warner. But he wasn’t interested. Independent kid, your son,” Kaiserman said, turning back to the Aronsons. “How long you folks gonna be in town?”

Apart from Sandy and now his parents and father-in-law-to-be, we knew no one else at the party, though a number of the guests looked vaguely familiar. The apartment felt more like a museum than anyone’s home. At one point, after Charlene deserted me for the washroom, I found myself in the dining room, its stark white walls covered with contemporary art. I am no expert, but I recognized paintings by de Kooning and Rothko, a Robert Motherwell, a Pollock, an Ad Reinhardt, and a large work in yellow and blue by Helen Frankenthaler. I was standing in front of it when Kaiserman approached.

“This hazzerei have any charm for you?”

“Some of it does,” I said, “but I can’t talk very well about the pleasure it gives.”

“My wife gets more of a bang out of it than me. I don’t know the first thing about it. A clever Russian named Sabarsky buys it for us. He tells me that, expensive as it now is, it’s going to go even higher. If true, I’ll have made my wife happy, earned a few bucks, and covered my walls, all in one shot. A good deal, no?”

Was this a winning absence of pretension, or coarseness to the highest power? I didn’t have long to ponder the question.

“Let me ask you something,” he continued. “My future son-in-law, what’s your true opinion of him?”

“I told you, he’s very good at what he does. He’s smart and quick and first-rate at getting his point of view across.”

“How tough is he is what I want to know.”

“Tough?”

“I mean what’s his endurance. How much crap can he take? Has he got any fist?”

“I’d like to help you, but I haven’t known him long enough to say,” I answered.

“You been around the kid a few months and you still can’t tell? I can tell when I’m with a guy for half an hour. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: tough is better than smart. Smart guys I can buy all day long, though I prefer to sell them. When I’m acquiring a company, if the head guy comes from somewhere like Wharton or Harvard, I’ll almost always give him his walking papers.”

A staccato click of high heels on the parquet floor announced the third Mrs. Kaiserman.

“Bernard,” she said, pronouncing her husband’s name in the English manner, with the accent on the first syllable, “our guests are waiting to hear from you in the drawing room.”

Kaiserman introduced me as Sandy’s employer.

“Hallo,” she said, holding out two cold fingers while looking over my shoulder. “You really mustn’t delay any longer, darling.”

“Right,” he said as Felicia Kaiserman flamencoed out of the room. “C’mon in, watch me play the great patriarch.”

_____________

 

In the room with all the Renoirs and Monets, Kaiserman stood before an enormous marble fireplace. One of the waiters clinked on a wineglass for attention. The crowd, maybe a hundred people in all, gathered in a semicircle, champagne glasses in hand. I thought I recognized the actor Ricardo Montalban talking with an elderly woman whose nose could have opened a soup can.

“Jenny, Sanford,” Kaiserman said. “C’mon up here, please.” Jennifer Kaiserman was small and dark, a female version of her father, without the least trace of shyness as she stood with Bernie’s arm around her, Sandy planted on his left.

“Friends, family, family-to-be,” Kaiserman began, raising a fluted glass, “this beautiful young woman, my daughter, has brought me nothing but happiness from the get-go. Behind every successful man, the saying goes, there is a woman. In my case the woman is my daughter. My few accomplishments in this world owe more to Jenny than anyone will every know. What I have built, I built with her and her children-to-come in mind. And tonight she brings me the most happiness of all by allowing me to announce her engagement to a brilliant young man. We’re all going to hear fine things about Sandy in the future. So please join me in wishing them health and happiness and a glorious future.”

As we all drank, I noticed Mrs. Kaiserman on the rim of our circle, talking energetically to an old dowager who, I later learned, was her mother. What had she been thinking when her husband declared his daughter’s primacy in his life? What, I wondered, was the relationship between wife and daughter? If Felicia Kaiserman was a stepmother out of Hans Christian Andersen, the young Jennifer Kaiserman did not exactly seem like Snow White. I felt a rush of sympathy for my young associate, who suddenly appeared at my side with his fiancée.

“Michael,” he said, “I’d like you to meet Jenny.”

“And it’s time you met my wife Charlene,” I said, before proceeding to tell Jenny Kaiserman that I had found her father a most interesting man.

“Interesting?” she said, raising an eyebrow. “I’d say amazing. It’s in the energy, you know. My father has this incredible energy. He sleeps about three hours a night. The rest of the time he’s plotting, don’t ask me what.” She laughed, showing small but perfect teeth.

“After you’re married,” I said, “don’t be surprised if Sandy hits him up for money for the magazine.”

“I’d be careful there,” she said. “My father is likely to give you a large donation and then find some way to turn around and sell you out to Nabisco. Pretty soon you’ll be turning out a house organ for cookies.”

In the elevator going down, we once again found ourselves alone with the senior Aronsons.

“So, whaddya think?” Ira Aronson asked.

“Pretty impressive,” I said.

“I told the kid he could also love a rich girl,” he repeated himself. “But this is ridiculous. Typical of Sandy, an overachiever if ever there was one.”

Janet Aronson kept her counsel.

_____________

 

Three months later the wedding took place on the Long Island estate of Jay Gould. Everyone’s unasked question was how much it cost. I counted three string quartets, a jazz ensemble, and two dance bands, one for old standards and the other for rock. An eight-course dinner was served to something like 500 guests, with a new wine for every course. Over the afternoon, Jenny appeared and reappeared in at least three different outfits. By the time a table-hopping Bernie Kaiserman made it over to where we were seated, it was fairly clear that he had quite forgotten who I was, which was fine with me.

Bridegroom and bride took a month-long honeymoon in Tuscany. Sandy had only two weeks’ vacation time coming to him, and when I informed him that he would have to be docked for the other two weeks he pretended to look grave. From now on, there would be a not-so-vaguely comic aspect to any discussion of money with him. At the end of his first year—a difficult financial period for the magazine—I was able to give him a raise of only a thousand dollars. I considered apologizing for the low sum, especially in light of his stellar performance, but then I just decided to add the money—something on the order of $28, after taxes—to his bi-weekly paycheck without mentioning the raise at all.

Sandy and Jenny were now living in her place on East 81st Street, off Madison, but as soon as Jenny became pregnant, they bought a house out of the city. When I asked Sandy where it was, he lowered his eyes and said, almost in a whisper, “Westport.” I supplied the address to my friend Norm Brodsky, who lives in nearby Norwalk. “I know the street,” he said. “It’s waterfront. No houses under two million.” Returning from a visit to the Brodskys one Sunday afternoon, I made it a point to drive by, and it was a Tudor job of three stories, with an attached garage that held four cars and servants’ quarters above, set on a lot of not less than an acre. Sandy’s annual salary, it occurred to me, could not have come close to covering his real-estate taxes.

In the office, the only visible effects of Sandy’s wealth were in his clothes. A careful dresser before, he was now—how to say it?—spruce in a quiet but moneyed way. I became a silent student of his shirts, which were made of wonderfully soft cottons and of such subtle blues and creamy whites as I’d not seen anywhere. One day, as he was leaving my office, I observed that his thinning hair had been neatly layered in the back.

But his work was as sharp as ever. He had begun writing most of our unsigned lead editorials, and he displayed a distinct knack for understanding and fairly stating rival points of view—and then demolishing them. I would read his flawless, concise arguments on the need for social justice, his calls for the redistribution of wealth, his attacks on unfettered market capitalism, and think of him going home to Westport to who knew what heights of luxury. And I would wonder, given his talents, the scope of his interests, the ease of his life, why hadn’t he left, gone on to better things? What was he waiting for? Although he could have done my job as well as I did—who knows, probably better—he must have known that I wasn’t planning to depart any time soon, though I did take advantage of a colleague’s departure to promote Sandy into the job of managing editor (at a raise of all of two grand). I like to know the next man’s ambitions, especially when he is working for me. But in Sandy Aronson’s case, I really hadn’t a clue.

_____________

 

And clueless I remained for the next five years, long enough for Jenny to have a second child and for Bernie Kaiserman to divorce his Argentinean wife and marry a Russian the same age as his daughter. Sandy had by now been working on the magazine longer than any of his less talented predecessors, and his salary had yet to hit the $40,000 mark.

So one day when he invited me to join him for lunch—he was now working partly at home, and coming into the city only three days a week—I thought for certain that he was going to announce his long overdue departure. A new administration had taken office in Washington, and Sandy’s father-in-law was a large enough contributor to both political parties to get him an interesting job at State or possibly Defense, or even as a White House speechwriter.

I took a cab uptown to the Links, a small club on 62nd east of Madison. The staff wore green livery. A gray-haired black man led me into a small room toward the back with a single table, where Sandy was waiting, and took our drinks order.

“Look,” Sandy said as soon as the man had left the room, “there are some things I have to tell you, and I wanted to do it in a very private way.”

“You’re leaving the magazine,” I said. “I’ve been expecting it. I’m lucky to have had you this long.”

“No,” he said. “I’m not leaving, though I’m going to need a little more free time, at least for a while. My marriage is in serious trouble. It has been for years.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, not very helpfully. “Can it be fixed?”

“Don’t see how,” he said. “The trouble, to be embarrassingly specific about it, is that my wife sleeps around.”

He paused as a waiter brought in two bowls of dark brown bean soup. “It wouldn’t be so bad if she had a single lover,” Sandy said when he’d gone, “but there’ve been a number of them. Just among those I know, there’s a local tennis pro, two construction workers, a bartender at the country club in Westport, an airline pilot, and a former point guard for the Knicks—not a very distinguished clientele, I must say.”

“With two small kids, how does she find the time?”

“The kids have a nanny. Jenny goes when and where she pleases. Money makes lots of things possible.”

“Does she know you know?”

“Yes,” he said, “I hadn’t the self-control not to confront her with it.”

“What did she say?”

“She says if I don’t like it, why don’t I leave? She’s very calm about it. She says she’ll be fine without me.”

“Does her father know what’s going on?”

“I assume he does, but I don’t think he cares. He’s always been a big player himself. Not exactly a rock of stability, my father-in-law. But I have to assume that, no matter what, he’s going to be in his daughter’s corner.”

“What’ll you do?”

“I wish I knew. I may need some time away from the magazine, which is one reason I’m telling you about this disaster.”

“But you say this has been going on for a while.”

“From nearly the beginning.”

“You’re too smart not to have considered why.”

The waiter appeared with two elegantly presented trouts amandine, from each of which, with long-fingered precision, he extracted the bones. I had barely tasted my soup, which was delicious and which I was sorry to see taken away.

“I wish I could say the problem lies with me. For instance, that I have knotty sexual hang-ups. Sorry to report that in that department we’ve always seemed to do fine together.”

“So what is the problem?”

_____________

 

“The problem is that my wife has adopted the sexuality of a man—specifically, of a single man on the make. If she sees something interesting, she goes after it. Being a still attractive woman, her batting average is much higher than a man in a comparable condition. And of course the money makes it easy. She can try anything she likes and if she falls down, there’s a soft golden net to catch her. She can’t really lose, and she knows it.”

“What about losing you?”

“I don’t think she cares.”

“And you?”

He inserted a small forkful of trout into his mouth and, after chewing briefly, said in the calmest possible voice, “I have come to despise her.”

“So why not leave? Walk away?”

“The children. They’re the most important thing in my life. I can’t stand the idea of their being brought up by my wife, not to speak of their grandfather lurking in the background, no doubt up to wife number eight by the time they hit adolescence.”

“What about a custody fight? Men win custody of their children all the time these days.”

“Not against Bernie Kaiserman they wouldn’t. With my father-in-law’s money behind her, I haven’t a chance. If he didn’t kill me with sheer legal talent, he’d crush me with the cost of appeals. Michael, please forgive me for dragging you into this, but there’s no one else I can talk to. I hate to think of myself as a whiner; it’s bad enough thinking of myself as a cuckold. But I felt I had to unload, at least a little, and I’m afraid you’re my victim. Sorry.”

If Sandy was telling his troubles to me, he must have been lonely indeed. Of course, I could understand his not talking things over with his parents, or with his older sister, married to a dentist in San Francisco. Still, he and I had never shared any intimacies whatsoever, and his unloading, as he put it, suggested a deep friendlessness in the world.

“I may also need to call on you for a bit of help.

Would you mind if I brought the kids over every once in a while? Even though I’m living at home, I’m beginning to feel like a divorced father with visiting privileges who gets his kids for the weekend.”

I told him I didn’t mind in the least. We rode back to the office together, talking about an editorial he was writing on school vouchers. The finished piece, which he turned in later that afternoon, was 500 of the most polished, cogent words imaginable.

_____________

 

Another year went by, in which Sandy did not allude even once to our conversation at the Links Club. Then one Sunday morning he called to say that his kids were with him and he was wondering if he could stop by for a half-hour. My wife nodded that it was fine, and I said we were looking forward to it.

From our living-room window I saw him drive up in a Mercedes SUV. His now six-year-old daughter was riding up front, his four-year-old son in a booster seat in the back. In the eight years I’d known him, I’d never seen Sandy in anything but suits, but today he was wearing tan pants, loafers, a black polo shirt, and a buttery soft suede jacket that looked as if it might cost two-months’ salary. Walking up to our house, he had his daughter by the hand while carrying his son.

“Hey, Daddy,” I said, “who are these beautiful children?”

“This elegant young woman is Caitlin, better known as Catey, or Catey-Bird,” he said. “And this gent with his head on my shoulder is Turner, also called Teddy the Bear.”

The girl had her father’s coloring, fineness of features, and general tidiness of demeanor; the boy was pure Kaiserman, dark, compact, toothy. When I held out my arms to take him from his father, he squirmed in my hands like a ferret or some other small animal that was all muscle. I set him down, and my wife suggested that both children go with her into the kitchen for cookies.

“Thank you, Charlene,” Sandy said. “I need a word or two in private with Michael.”

I dropped onto the couch; he took a chair on the other side of the coffee table, removing two envelopes from an inner pocket of his jacket and handing them to me.

“One,” he answered my unspoken question, “is the editorial on the privatization of Social Security—surprise, we come out strongly against it. The other, I’m sorry to say, is my resignation.”

“I’m even sorrier,” I said. “Where’re you headed? Whoever you’re going to be working for is damned fortunate.”

“I won’t be working, at least not for a while. Where I’m going is to ground. You know that phrase from the old English detective books?”

“It means hiding out, no?”

“It means precisely that.”

“What’s going on?”

“Jenny wants a divorce. She’s found another man. She also wants the children. I’ve decided not to let her have them. I’m taking them with me.”

“Where to?”

“I’d rather not say. Their grandfather is certain to come after me, and it’s probably better that you not know.”

“I’m sure you’ve thought this through.”

“I’ve thought about almost nothing else for the past four years.”

“You have money?”

“I’ve been on an allowance of ten grand a month—walking-around money, my father-in-law calls it—since my wedding day, and I’ve stowed away quite a lot over the years. I’ve decided to consider it alimony and child support. Money won’t be a problem for a while.”

“What about the children’s mother? Won’t they miss her?”

“Probably at first. But I hope they’ll get over her.”

“Won’t she miss them?”

“That’s unclear. But it’s her father I worry about.”

“He loves them so much?”

“No, he hates to lose so much—at anything.”

Sandy got up, and we walked into the kitchen. At the table Charlene was reading to the children, the boy in her lap.

“We’ve got to be on our way, kids. Say thanks for the treats.”

I walked Sandy to the car and stood while he strapped in his son and set the seat belt around his daughter. We shook hands, and I told him I thought him a remarkable man, adding that if he needed me for anything—anything at all—he had only to call. In the living room, I read his editorial: seamless, beautifully argued, not a word in need of changing.

_____________

 

It was only eight days later that one of our interns buzzed to announce a Mr. Bernard Kaiserman waiting to see me. I suppressed the impulse to respond that I couldn’t possibly make time for him without an appointment.

Walking into my office, with its metal desk and shabby furniture, Kaiserman looked around, as if appraising the joint before proposing to acquire it. “I heard you’re looking for a new managing editor,” he said, taking the seat across from my desk without being invited to do so.

“Are you applying? The pay is low, but the benefits are decent.”

“I’m not looking for a job but a son-in-law who’s stolen my grandchildren. I wonder if maybe you could help me here.”

“How so?”

“When did you last see him?”

“A week ago Friday,” I said, lying, “here in the office, when he handed me his resignation.”

“Did he say where he was headed?”

“He only said that he wanted some time to consider his options.”

“No mention that one of his options was taking my grandchildren?”

“None.”

“I see,” said Kaiserman, studying my face. “What he’s done is called kidnapping, for which he could spend the rest of his life in jail. I suppose, too, that people who withhold information would be considered accessories after the goddamn fact. Have I got that right? I may be a little rusty on my legal phrases. Anyhow, we’re talking pretty serious business here. I’m also offering a personal reward of a quarter of a million for any information leading to the discovery of these kids. That have any interest for you?”

Prison and riches, a stick and a carrot, in the same paragraph. It was interesting, watching a real operator at work.

“For business reasons, I’m hesitant to go to the police with this. It wouldn’t play well in the press. It might also give some other schmuck the idea of stealing my wife’s Afghan hound.”

“I wish I could help you,” I said, “but Sandy never said a thing to me about his plans. I gathered that his marriage wasn’t all he hoped for, but I really had no idea it would force him to this.”

“Something wrong with him, my son-in-law. I think I sensed it from the first. Low energy. Thin blood. Lives too much in his head. Who knows?”

“How is your daughter taking it?”

“She was planning to divorce him anyway. But right now she’s a nervous wreck over her kids.”

“You don’t think he’d do anything to hurt them, do you? He’s not violent or crazy.”

“I’m not so sure about the crazy part. Doesn’t he know who he’s fooling with?”

“My guess is that he probably does,” I said. “He’s never underestimated you, as far as I could tell. He always thought of you as a very formidable character.”

“He’ll know how formidable when I catch up with him.” With this he rose, took a business card out of his wallet and placed it on my desk. “Call me if he gets in touch,” he said. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

I walked Kaiserman through the office and into the corridor, waiting with him until the elevator arrived. Back at my desk, I couldn’t work. I kept thinking of Sandy and his two children, driving off in who knew what direction or into which sunset. “Drive, kid,” I found myself chanting. “Drive. Don’t stop. Don’t let the son of a bitch catch you.”

_____________

 

Life goes on. Two new managing editors came and quickly went. From time to time I would read an item about Bernie Kaiserman in the business section of the Times, buying or selling some mammoth enterprise, but otherwise I was shut out from news. Had Sandy gotten away, or had he been quietly apprehended by his father-in-law’s private detectives? Was Jenny remarried, with a new set of children? And where was Sandy now? In jail? Remarried? Still on the run?

Until one day, almost four years after his visit to our house, sorting through the morning mail, I came upon a postcard with a scene of mountains capped by snow and clouds, postmarked from a western Canadian province. The message, in a bold printed hand, read:

Dear Michael,

Kids fine. Things go decently. As Confucius neglected to say, Man who marry rich girl earn every damn penny.

The card was unsigned.

_____________

About the Author

Joseph Epstein is a regular contributor to COMMENTARY.




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.