I think that there's something wrong with me.
For some reason I find that the girls that I like as human beings, I'm not sexually attracted to, and the ones that I am sexually attracted to, I don't particularly like as human beings... and on the rare occasion when one falls in both categories, they usually have a boyfriend or a husband... and Lord knows I've got enough of that bad karma to last me a lifetime.
These are classic Freudian symptoms, Conrad.
Haven't you ever read about defense mechanisms?
Actually I've always considered myself more of a Jungian.
Your phone is ringing again.
Please stop talking.
You stop talking.
It's 1 p.m.
Yes, it's Conrad Valmont.
Oh, yes, Security will be there within the hour to escort you from the premises.
But I've lived here since birth.
This is Conrad Valmont.
Conrad was the son of a Grecian entrepreneur and a Caledonian debutante.
His father, Jean-Louis Valmont, owned The Valmont Hotel as had his father and his father before him.
Their country home in Great Neck was the pantheon of summer gatherings.
On the eve of his 51st year, Jean-Louis took Conrad's mother to the south of France on what was to be a weekend excursion.
It had since turned into a lavish escapade around the world, lasting nearly three decades.
Over he subsequent years, Conrad was raised by The Valmont's staff.
His chauffeur, Bernard, had taken Conrad to a Parisian brothel for his 13th birthday as a sort of rite of passage into polite society.
It was a family tradition.
At present, he was working on his magnum opus, a great New York novel in the tradition of Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton.
It was widely speculated as to where he was in the process of writing it.
When asked, he would simply reply, I'm in the gathering stages.
Conrad had been in the gathering stages for several years now.
Last week Thursday, Conrad's parents had capsized and had become stranded on a small island in the Mediterranean.
Having to spend numerous days together without the distractions of wealth and a transient lifestyle, they've come to a simple realization, they didn't particularly like one another.
Conrad's parents were to divorce by the week's end and neither wanted to continue paying for Conrad's extravagant lifestyle.
Hence, the Valmont board of trustees had requested hotel security to escort Conrad from the premises by 2 p.m.
Bunny, please make yourself useful.
Get some more cigarettes, please.
I'll be right there!
Wha... I don't understand.
What do you mean they won't accept the charges?
Did you tell them it was Conrad Valmont?
What are you smiling at?
Come on, Bunny.
Bernard, please take us to the Belleville Café.
Uh, I'm sorry.
Hey, it's me.
I'm going to have this sorted out in no time.
I can't. I mean, it's orders from the boss.
I'm sorry, Connie.
Can you do me a favor? Name it.
Can you take care of Napoleon while I'm gone?
This is lame!
I'm going to go.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
Can I borrow some cash for a cab?
I'll be in touch.
Conrad chose to ride the subway, a convention he rarely took up since he had learned how to hail a cab at the age of seven.
But it was on this rare occasion that he first saw Beatrice.
Her unassuming beauty struck him at once, and as his eyes gazed down, he couldn't help but notice she was reading Sense and Sensibility.
Immediately, Conrad had reasoned she could be no older than 19 and would easily be molded into a girl of his liking.
Of course, there was always the outside chance that she was merely a Jane Austin fan, but Conrad quickly ruled that out on a hunch.
Herein lies the eternal question, is it a grocery list... or her phone number?
It was at that moment Conrad realized he was going to see her naked.
I think I'm in love.
Conrad, you've only just met her.
Is she attractive?
You know, you have an unhealthy obsession with female beauty.
I don't care.
Maybe you should try dating more homely women.
I don't think so.
Take it from me, someone who's been married for 25 years, Conrad, inner beauty doesn't age.
You're just saying that because your wife is unattractive.
What are you going to do?
You have no home.
Move in with Dylan, of course.
How about money?
I'd need some, thank you, yes.
Conrad, I'm not your accountant.
I'm your analyst.
Well, I'm certainly not going to travel downtown and work for ten hours a day for the best 20 years of my life doing some dull, unimaginative work, certainly non-altruistic work, no thanks.
Conrad, there's an interesting case study a colleague of mine did a few years back.
The subject was a young German woman who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
It rendered her witty, charming, and quite likeable to most.
You trying to set me up?
Though she possessed all the aforementioned attributes, her life was actually completely artificial.
She had no meaning, no emotion, not a care in the world.
She seemed utterly blissful to an outsider, but her family and friends were worried, even horrified.
German neurologists called it witzelsucht, the joking disease.
But eventually, a dissolution set in and her life was left empty.
Are you saying that I have a brain tumor?
Conrad's analyst had given Conrad a low-interest loan in the amount of $217.33, the entirety of his wallet's remains.
Conrad's ego was in no position to admit the reality of his impoverishment.
Consequently, he had decided not to tell Dylan...
... Or anyone, for that matter, of his financial woes.
This is Dylan Tate.
Dylan was an antisocial socialist, a closet conversationalist, a clinical neurotic.
Possessing an inimitable talent for the arts, Dylan had been afforded the opportunity to travel the world and live a comfortable lifestyle at his own expense, something Conrad knew nothing about.
Dylan Tate was the only personage of all Conrad's acquaintances whom he admired, and to a bigger extent than he liked to admit to himself and me.
How was Greece?
You mean Bhutan. Semantics.
I got back a couple of days ago.
Do you mind if I stay with you for a while?
Sure, come on in.
So, what happened?
We are remodeling at The Valmont again.
I don't know.
Ugh, it's been a couple of weeks.
What I first perceived as cute and endearing was actually quite exhausting, her episodic hysteria, her chronic dissatisfaction, her endless pragmatism.
You know you two always do this, right?
One of you screams, the other one comes running back.
I-I bought her a Volvo.
You bought her a Vol, why, why do you always buy them a Volvo?
I don't know.
It's like a free ticket to leave.
How can I feel guilty, you know?
I bought her a Volvo.
You know what really pisses me off about this whole thing is that I'm the one who funded her entire vegan fashion line, and now that every socialite in St. Bart's thinks it's fashionable, I get the swift kick.
Swift kick? I thought you broke it off with her.
I did but still.
So, Henri, over at the gallery, he set me up on a date last week.
That bad, huh?
You can always tell what somebody thinks of you by who they set you up with.
Is it wrong to be aroused by a bunch of 17-year-old girls running around with knee-high socks and polyester shorts?
Well, I guess that's a decision every man has to make for himself, but yes, obviously yes.
Conrad needs a girlfriend.
No, no, no. We don't need girlfriends.
This is not the time for girlfriends.
This is a time for us to read and to write and to have deviant fetishistic sex with prostitutes.
Please, this from a serial monogamist.
You've never even been with a prostitute.
I understand that, if you'll indulge me.
I'm going through a rough break-up.
I need to have certain... reassurances about the prospect of bachelorhood.
Look alive, look alive.
Need a new goalie?
Don't make eye contact.
Hey, mister, give us back our ball.
Interaction is inappropriate.
I can play.
Hm. We should move.
Like little veal.
So, I met a woman a couple weeks ago.
I don't know, I can't get her out of my head.
What happened to the prospects of bachelorhood?
I know. I just find it completely overwhelmingly tedious and unnerving.
So, tell me about the girl.
What are the details?
She's like an ingenue in a Chekov play.
You know, one of those awfully romantic virtuous types, completely self-inhibited, doesn't drink.
Didn't have sex until she was 21, read the bulk of the Victorian classics.
Jesus, sounds like a real keeper.
Oh, she is, she really is.
I'm... I'm way over my head.
Is she attractive?
Hm, she's a model.
If I ever lost my fortune and was completely disinherited, could you ever see me as a struggling bohemian artist type, hypothetically speaking, of course?
That reminds me, do you want to come with me to the cocktail benefit at the Woodruff Modern tonight?
Nope. Come on.
You know I don't like those things.
It'll be fun. You can...
Then you can, uh, meet the ingenue.
Is it a date?
We do this thing where we don't really go out together.
We just call each other to make sure the other is going to be at a certain place at a preordained time, and then... Adorable.
...we just happen to bump into one another.
It's less pressure.
So do you want to come to the cocktail party?
Well, I'll need a cocktail first.
Are you wearing perfume?
No, it's a new cologne that I'm wearing for my date.
Why? What do you think?
Well, I think it smells like perfume.
No, the woman at Bergdorf's told me that it's unisex.
And you wanted to smell sexually ambiguous?
Good evening and welcome to this evening's benefit.
I must say I'm more than thrilled to see so many familiar faces.
Enjoy the complimentary hors d'oeuvres and champagne, and remember, make a donation.
This is Beatrice Fairbanks.
Beatrice had attended a rather strict etiquette school on a bi-weekly basis.
In doing so, Beatrice had been quietly instilled with a certain Victorian idolatry, a paragon of virtue.
Beatrice had been forced at a young age to learn the works of Bach, Chopin, and other masters of classical music, though secretly she'd always wanted to play jazz.
Oddly, Beatrice had opted to become and editorial model...
...an occupation that only heightened her insecurities.
Un petite oiseau.
Beatrice was a firm believer in mystics, psychics, and the occult, which ran counter to the debutante norm which favored incessant psychoanalysis.
What does it mean?
So what do you think of my cologne?
Oh, that's you.
You probably didn't get a good...
It's a little feminine.
The woman at Bergdorf's told me it was unisex.
Hi, she was clearly lying.
He smells pretty, doesn't he?
Um, Beatrice, this is my friend Conrad.
We've met. Just briefly.
- On the subway. Subway?
Uh-hm. I gave him my, um...
Scarf, she gave me her scarf. It was cold.
I'm going to need that back from you.
Okay. I'll give it to you.
I can get it... from you... to give to her.
I think I see foie gras.
Want some... duck?
No. Take your time.
He's... That's so nice of you.
Obviously I've got a target on my back.
I didn't even know it, I didn't even know it, and listen to this, my mistress says she doesn't want to have sex because she's afraid she'll get pregnant.
I told her at the rate we have intercourse, the only way that's going to happen is through immaculate conception.
Didn't you say she was on the pill?
Yeah, yeah, she is, but she says she's afraid of the 1%, and besides, she wants to get off.
It gives her mood swings.
Awful, just awful.
You already have a wife that doesn't want to sleep with you.
Don't you find that the virtuous ideals of the Victorian authors is somewhat unrealistic and sentimental?
No, not at all, and as the century went on, the scope of the genre became far more complex.
You do realize that the monicker of Victorian literature ranges from the Bronte sisters to Kipling?
Have you ever actually read any of their books?
No, but I'm...
I'm heavily considering it.
She wouldn't have left...
There she is.
So, where... where you heading now?
I have to go to bed. I have work in the morning.
Yeah, me too.
So, what are you working on these days?
Nothing in particular.
I'm open to new ideas.
You sound very ambitious.
Actually I am in the gathering stages of a novel.
It is to be one of the great New York novels in the tradition of Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton.
He's been in the gathering stages for over a decade.
Well, all good things take time.
I rushed my first novel, I don't want to suffer the same pitfalls as my predecessors with my sophomore effort.
I don't think you finished your first novel and I'm pretty sure it can't qualify as a sophomore effort if you don't finish your first book.
Nonetheless, everybody knows that there are certain pitfalls associated with a sophomore effort that I simply want to avoid, period.
Avoid it by not doing it.
Well, good night.
Don't you try anything.
Don't try anything.
Nearly 30 minutes had passed, and Beatrice could still feel the rush from Conrad's flirtation.
Don't try anything.
Not this one.
Dylan... I won't.
Don't try anything.
The two friends' competitive nature which had spanned nearly three decades stemmed from the simple fact that they each not only envied the other but wanted secretly to be the other.
Neither one ever spoke of this.
You know, just because you're almost 40 and still getting a weekly allowance from your parents doesn't mean you can just do nothing for the rest of your life.
First of all, I'm writing a novel, as you well know.
Secondly, your statement is completely subjective and lacking any substantive facts.
You're walking down a very dangerous road, my friend.
What road is that?
The road to fantasyland, and when you take a trip to fantasyland, you should always have a return ticket.
I don't even know what that means.
At some point you're going to have to come to the same realization I did.
The rest of the world is never going to love you as much as your parents do.
Weren't you adopted?
I don't understand why you're interested in this guy.
He's just another philandering affluent type doomed to chronic alcoholism, perpetual adolescence, and death by syphilis.
He probably sits around all day drinking Tom Collins and just performing acts of mental masturbation.
That is such an unfair generalization.
He's not like that.
For your information, he is writing a novel.
Oh. Aren't we all?
So, I'm thinking about taking it to the next level with Beatrice, and actually asking her out to dinner tonight.
Hm, bad move.
Why? You just saw her last night.
You don't want to crowd her, make her think you're too eager.
I don't know, Dylan.
A day at least.
Really? Yeah, really.
Beatrice... yes, that's my plane.
I never understood why someone would want to be a vegetarian.
I mean, do you, do you really love animals that much.
No, no, no. I just hate plants.
You eat fish though, right?
All the vegetarians eat fish.
Well, I'm a Pisces.
What's that got to do with it?
I don't eat my own kind.
Beatrice, tell me, what is it like being a model, all those people staring at you?
It's like any other job, innocuous and demoralizing, but it pays well.
I'm serious. Tell me about yourself.
All I know is that you, you, you do frequent the subway, and, and you read Victorian and pre-Victorian literature, right?
Come on, I want to know, I want to know your fears.
I'd like to know your hopes.
I want to know political ideologies and sexual preference.
I don't care what order.
That's a lot of information for a first date.
How about you?
What is it like being born with the proverbial silver spoon?
Well, you know, it, it is like any other job, it's innocuous and demoralizing, but it pays really well.
Beatrice was different.
As their conversation continued, the two spoke of French cinema and classic literature.
He tried to be witty, to make her laugh, and for a moment she resembled a statue, a bust of an Aphrodite that he could only remember its gentle eyes but not where the status itself had been.
Shall we go have a cigarette?
Conrad often became attached to the idea of something and not to the actual thing itself.
So what is your novel about?
I'm not so sure.
I'm still figuring that part out.
I want you to try this.
Why? What is it?
This is, it's a Valmont Executive.
It is my family's brand.
It is, it is only the rarest and most exquisite cigarette in existence.
It is pretty great, isn't it?
Sort of tastes like any other cigarette.
How about the smell, right?
Smells like any other too.
I mean, maybe I'm missing... ...something.
You don't get it. You just don't get it.
I'm going to take two then.
Oh, that's good.
As the day wore on, Beatrice was playing hard to get.
Conrad's pseudo-intellectual banter was wearing thin, and so he decided to proceed to plan B, get her drunk.
Well, I know you don't drink, but they make an incredible Tom Collins, okay?
How often do you come here?
Uh, every once in a while.
Here you go, Mr. Valmont.
Weird how nobody dances anymore, you know?
That's funny coming from someone who is not dancing.
I don't dance.
You know, you're nothing like Dylan described.
Why? What did he say?
He said you were self-inhibited and that you didn't drink.
Well, a woman can wear many hats.
Oh yeah, what does that mean?
It means a woman can be inhibited and conservative with one man and virtually the opposite with another.
Oh boy, even socialist regimes wait until their demise before they admit such insincerity.
Well, I'm not a socialist regime, I'm a woman.
You play that thing?
A little bit.
Will you play me a song?
No. Come on.
Beatrice. I'm not in the mood.
Are you going to make me beg?
Come on, please?
Beatrice loved the way Conrad walked into a room, the way he waved his hands in the air every time he heard Bach, the way he read her excerpts of Fitzgerald's short fiction before bed, the precision with which he made a Tom Collins and a single Windsor knot, his infallible wit and charm and the way he used words like haberdashery, but most importantly, Beatrice loved the way he looked at her.
Conrad loved the way Beatrice walked into a room, how she laughed at his jokes no matter how convoluted or juvenile they seemed, the way she bit her lip the moment before she played the piano, the softness of her skin, the yellow in her eyes, the mole on her thigh, but most importantly, Conrad loved to look at her.
Unfortunately, there were still two unavoidable problems, Dylan, and that Conrad was broke, but most importantly that he was lying concerning both.
Did you ever notice that when people become happy, they pack on a few extra pounds?
What are you trying to say?
No, no, no, nothing about you, Angel.
No, no, no. I'm just, I'm making an observation.
Are you saying that all fat people are happy?
Not at all, no.
I'm merely stating that there are two categories of fat people, there is happy fat and there is just fat.
No, no, no. Please. Just one.
Just give me a little space.
I'm trying to cook, you know, it's not natural.
Hey. That water is brown.
That can't be healthy.
That's how I like it.
Want me to get that? Nope.
Well, how am I supposed to wash my hands?
There's egg all over them.
Uh, no, not doing anything.
Uh, oh, oh, can you hang on one second?
He wants to take me to the theater tonight and he wants me to bring a date for you.
I'm, I'm not that good of a liar.
I sincerely doubt that.
No, I'm sorry, we can't... I can't.
You did? Oh, that's so nice of you.
Okay, well then, I'll see you at 7.
There was nothing I could do.
This is a bad idea.
I don't understand why you and Dylan always have to get into these prepubescent competitions of which he always loses.
I resent that. You know, I make a conscious effort to stay out of all forms of competition with him.
Well, you're uh, track record proves otherwise.
Well, this girl is important.
Let me know if there's anything I can, um, I can do.
Have you heard anything? I can't get anyone to return my calls.
There are rumors, just rumors.
I don't want to get into details, but I've only got 36 hours of clean underwear left.
I've got no idea what to do, you know?
I feel like Napoleon after Waterloo, dying in exile on the coast of St. Helena.
It's going to be all right, Connie.
I promise you. It's going to be all right.
Listen, I need to take the antiques.
You don't need to take everything.
They were in my family, and they belong to me.
Your family, your family, I paid...
That desk was from Marie Antoinette!
Yes, it was.
I'm sorry, sir. No one picked up.
Is there another number you'd like to try?
Um, no, no, that's okay.
That's fine. Thank you.
I think that's a pretty good parent over there.
She's very uh, opinionated and judgmental...
I told you this was a bad idea.
Shut up, shut up!
Well then, tell me about it.
Yes, seriously, of course!
Here I am, I'm leaving.
Is this a joke?
What a pitiful advocate you are!
Speak, whether it's a joke or not.
Uh, uh, why are you looking all around the room like that?
Oh, you, you really are in a temper.
I wish to take a lover, or if not a lover, at least a cavalier.
Whom do you suggest?
I shall abide by your choice from, from tomorrow, from this evening, whoever has the fancy to sing beneath my window will find my door ajar.
Well, nothing to say?
I sure don't like the way you're looking at Dylan tonight.
I am not doing anything.
Okay, maybe it's me, but I don't know.
Just stop it!
I didn't even understand any of the Parisian speech.
I think they were Canadian.
Bonsoir, Monsieur Valmont. Hello, Didier.
Your usual table is waiting.
Great, thank you.
Will you be paying tonight or putting it on the books?
It will be on the books, and that goes for the whole table.
So... Ah, very well.
Please, right this way.
No, it's just a little bit, I'll just have a little.
What did you think?
I don't know. I felt that it was sort of pretentious.
It seemed like everyone who was in the theater was just there to be seen.
There to be seen?
It was a theater, it was pitch black in there.
How am I supposed to care about a group of over privileged, affluent types who go gallivanting around without any sort of a moral compass.
Yeah, affluent have plenty of problems.
I'm a mess.
I'm sorry, but I'm very sensitive to an audience's reaction, and I couldn't get into it.
If they all jumped off a bridge, would you join them?
I hate that analogy, I really do, but maybe.
Maybe there's a reason for why they're all doing that.
Maybe the bridge is about to explode and no one told me.
That's a good point.
And just how am I supposed to sympathize with these characters?
No one suffers any consequences for their actions, no one learns anything, and nobody changes.
It was a satire.
I didn't get that at all.
I love this place.
It's so chic.
Wait, I thought you said that the door policy was discriminatory and this place was insipid.
Well, I did say that, but that was before I came inside.
I'm going to go.
Count to five and then follow me.
Oh, are you wearing perfume?
Don't you feel a little bit strange about being an artist in a world that's already so full of art?
Isn't that sort of a waste?
I forget, what do you do?
I'm getting a doctorate at Columbia in postmodern criticism.
Ugh, for me I think that people who are creative are really just indulgent.
There's only so much, and we don't, we don't need any more, and there are so many people who are without, you know, you should just be a farmer.
You can always tell what someone thinks of you by who they set you up with.
The only reason that I'm dancing with you is because I'm incredibly drunk.
I despise you and everything that you stand for.
Where are Conrad and Beatrice?
I don't know.
You want to get another drink?
You're a bit of a philistine, aren't you?
I'm sorry, wait, tell me your name again.
Are you kidding me?
I just got out of a three-year relationship with a Jocelyn.
Do you want to sleep over?
Hm. Your place or mine?
I live in a dorm.
You know, I realized something the other day.
Usually the women that I like as human beings, I'm not sexually attracted to, and the ones that I'm sexually attracted to, I don't particularly like as human beings.
On the rare occasion when one of them falls into both categories, they usually have a boyfriend or a husband.
What are you trying to say?
I'm trying to say, what I'm trying to say is, you know, it's great that you don't have a boyfriend.
Oh, but I am married. Is that a problem?
You're a cheater though.
Oh, uh-huh, yeah. Right?
I've got to tell Dylan.
I've got to tell him, right?
You tell him, you just come right out and you just let him know, you just tell him.
You've got to tell him.
You've got to tell him, got to tell him.
You've got to tell him.
This was it.
This was the moment Conrad would right his wrongs.
This was the moment he would bare his soul to his only friend.
What's going on?
And tell him of his betrayal.
This was the moment Conrad would ask for forgiveness.
Nothing, nothing, nothing at all.
What? Does something seem like it's going on?
Yeah, seemed like you were about to say something.
No, uh-uh, no, no, not at all.
Where's uh, friend?
Oh, you mean Jocelyn?
No, the friend.
Yeah, the friend's name is Jocelyn.
Oh, really? Ironic.
I don't want to talk about it.
Didn't have sex with her, huh?
No, I didn't have sex with her.
I had to talk to her all night.
She only left half an hour ago.
It was horrible.
So what happened last night?
What happened was that it was amazing, and we talked until the sun came up!
I have something I have to ask you.
Are you sleeping with Beatrice?
No, no, no.
Good. Good man.
Something I'd like to ask you.
May I sleep with Beatrice?
Got something I'd like to tell you.
What is it now? Beatrice and I are already together.
Dylan! Dylan! Dylan!
I'll kill you! Easy, easy!
Now as we ease into adulthood, sometimes a good stiff drink is the only excuse we have for committing the atrocities... Ease into adulthood?
Yes. Now come on.
We're nearly 40!
I said I was sorry. Okay?
I was going to... You're a selfish asshole.
Now hang on.
Dylan, you're the one that's selfish.
I might actually have a shot with her, okay?
She could be the one.
What are you, 14?
It's not charming anymore, Conrad.
I need you to sleep somewhere else tonight.
You're kicking me out?
And you realize by kicking me out, I'll probably move in with Beatrice?
Sometimes you're your own worst enemy.
Conrad's ability to trust had been marred by years of betrayal and deceit, for others had only dated or befriended him to gain access to his wealth.
He had been quoted on numerous occasions as saying that no one could be trusted.
What he forgot to add was that included himself.
Well, I feel very, very conflicted.
I-I like the idea of living up at the summer home, you know, upstate, the life of a reclusive writer.
I really do, but I'm allergic to the grass and the clean air, the bees, the ticks, the badgers, bunch of wildlife.
What are you trying to say, Conrad?
I'm going to move in with Beatrice.
Oh, oh, that's great news.
Does she know that you're broke and have no place else to go?
Don't you feel guilty about Dylan?
Obviously, but you know, this is actually a very small city, and if you meet an attractive girl, the chances are great that one of your friends has already slept with her or wants to.
You're lying to yourself, Conrad.
I'm okay with it.
Bonjour, mon amour.
What's going on?
I'm moving in.
What happen to Dylan's?
I was allergic to his sheets, Egyptian cotton.
I have Egyptian cotton.
Well, we'll have to do something about that.
I think I'm in love with you.
How? It's only been two days.
Then I'm in love with the idea of you.
Not the actual me?
Well the idea of someone is always better.
You can't have sex with an idea.
I'm telling you, don't put a scratch on it.
Your father is going to kill me.
Oh, there it is.
Yeah, what do you see there?
Well, I mean it's obvious, kind of.
Explosive, it's explosive.
A car, right?
And do you see just the headlights?
It's a female orgasm.
I think it's kind of clear. I don't...
That the driver is having?
Sitting at Beatrice's piano, Conrad quietly read Dylan's note.
In lieu of unnecessary explanations, please enjoy this Volvo.
Conrad began to feel an odd sensation, one of guilt.
He had never felt the emotion before.
I think I have a brain tumor.
I'm not, I'm not in the mood.
You're never in the mood anymore.
We had sex last night.
You seemed a little distant.
Oh, we're just going through a dry spell.
It's only been a week.
Watching Beatrice as she delicately played the piano, Conrad felt horrible for his ceaseless deception.
For a moment he contemplated admitting his impoverishment.
Then the moment passed.
How can I be with someone that doesn't appreciate Bach or a Valmont.
This is a classic story, Conrad.
Have you even read Pygmalion.
This has nothing to do with Pygmalion.
You should revisit that.
Or get the notes or I'll read it to you.
I've seen My Fair Lady.
Okay, Beatrice, stop right there.
Don't move, okay?
Don't move. Like that.
Beautiful, you're beautiful.
Give me love, give me love.
You love me?
You love me, you love me.
Okay. Show me, show me.
Show me you love me.
Show me. Okay.
Hate, now, like that.
Voilà, one more?
Greece is a place he had visited many times in his mind, but on this day...
Jumping forward, chapter three.
So how long are they going to be remodeling the Valmont?
Uh, a couple months maybe, I think.
Sometimes they take a couple months. Yeah.
Months? You said weeks.
I got your gift.
Well, as good as it is to bump into you guys, I have to go. I've got my opening tonight.
What part of town is that in? Whitman Gallery.
Maybe we'll see you there.
Don't know the time.
Who's that girl?
Jocelyn. That's not Jocelyn.
I know, the uh, the other Jocelyn.
Let's get in this car, come on.
I've got to go.
Conrad had often professed that he led a life of the mind.
Unfortunately for him, his mind had been damaged by years of abandonment, philandering, Tom Collins, and a two-pack-per-day nicotine habit, not to mention an unhealthy Oedipal complex.
The weight of his guilt had finally become too heavy.
The incessant charade could go on no longer.
Where were you?
You left me in the concert.
You stayed, huh?
Actually, I did.
It was beautiful.
We're out of cigarettes.
Where are we going?
To The Valmont.
Why are we hiding behind the bushes?
I need you to follow me on the count of three...
What? Ready? Go!
Frederick. I don't believe you're supposed to...
What is going on?
This is crazy.
I know. Isn't it fun?
Where are we going?
Why are we...
Please turn on the lights.
What is happening?
It's a game.
Hey, if you see my mother's jewels, get those.
What? No, we should not do that.
I showed her, that washed-up debutante.
Really, really good work, Timothy.
It's Frederick, sir.
Yes, Frederick. Sorry.
Yeah, I know.
I thank you a lot in really picking up the pace.
Now you know where to return Mother's jewels, right.
That's the penthouse, the East wing, the Rhodesian cabinet, third drawer.
I've got my cigarettes.
Please tell Bernard that I'm very sorry.
I'll be right there, Honey.
What was all that about?
I'm not sure I even know anymore.
Conrad, what is going on?
You know, Beatrice, I only moved in with you because I've got no place else to go.
Okay? I'm broke.
What do you mean?
I have nothing.
I was kicked out of The Valmont.
My parents cut me off.
Conrad, you're nearly 40 years old.
Well, that's completely irrelevant.
I've got separation anxiety, abandonment issues.
Are you saying you've been lying to me this entire time?
Yes, but I'm not the only liar.
I saw you with Dylan earlier today.
You've been following me now?
I-I was trying to patch things up between you.
God, grow up!
No, you are not honest with yourself. That's your problem.
Okay? You're always acting so virtuous, you're always talking about how you want to be a bohemian musician.
In the end, you're just a model.
But at least I have a job.
You have just managed to coast through life without worrying about money or anything else pertaining to reality.
You are just a philandering narcissist who is so afraid of being alone because when you are alone, you are going to realize how empty your life is, and you know what, I should have gone with Dylan because between the two of you, he was the nice one.
You are insufferable!
Didn't seem to bother you when I was flipping the bill.
All right. You're just like the rest of them.
You are only with me for the money.
I am the only girl you have ever been with who wasn't just in it for the money, and besides, you were broke.
Well, you didn't know that.
Staring into the grill of a bread truck, Conrad couldn't help but think of the poor woman who had been diagnosed with witzelsucht, the joking disease.
In a daze, he suddenly began to speak fluent German, though he had never studied the language.
He promptly lost consciousness.
Where does it hurt?
Conrad's worst fear had come true.
He was all alone.
It's your son, Conrad. Hi.
- Connie. What's the... Where are you?
What's that noise?
Can't you see I'm preoccupied.
When are you coming home?
I don't know, Darling.
Divorce of this stature can take some time.
How long do you think?
Look, I have to go.
Maybe this will all blow over.
I just saw the most amazing performance piece where a husband and wife tied themselves together with a 10-foot rope for an entire year.
It was a commentary on the modern relationship.
That is the most beautiful metaphor I've ever heard. What happened to them?
They got a divorce.
I heard you went out with Beatrice earlier.
She was trying to get me to do what we're doing right now.
Dylan, I guess you were right.
Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.
What happened to your face?
I got hit by a truck.
Zeus is dead.
You could fetter my leg, but Zeus himself cannot get the better of my free will.
And I want my Volvo back, that was just a joke.
So how are things with Jocelyn?
Oh, we broke up again.
This time it's for good. I think she was stealing from me.
How are things with Beatrice?
Not so good.
Well, it's not a surprise considering what an asshole you are.
I resent that.
Well, you should. It was an insult.
You're not still mad at me, are you?
Not at all...
Maybe a little.
I really thought Beatrice and I were going to last.
What is it?
Now, you two seem like fans of literature.
I have got a very impressive library at my apartment.
Do you want to see my Balzac collection?
You sure you don't want to do anything?
I can't, sorry.
It would be a misrepresentation of how I feel inside.
I don't even know what that means.
Well, that's exactly the problem.
You can, uh, keep the Volvo.
Beatrice, it's Conrad.
Give me a call.
Call me back.
What do you see, Conrad?
Beatrice. I mean, sex.
I mean, wait, Beatrice.
This isn't healthy, Conrad.
I know that.
Meanwhile, Beatrice visited her Upper West Side mystic in an attempt to find similar answers to her quandary.
Unfortunately, her prospects were less than ideal.
I mean, I-I've only just moved in.
She's already kicked me out.
I don't know what to do.
Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the ones we love.
This literary moral code of yours is completely unrealistic.
This isn't a Jane Austin novel, and I'm certainly not Emily Post.
You have the moral code of a Bolshevik, Conrad.
I mean, I'm, I'm having an existential crisis here.
I can't stop thinking about her.
I think I need to see a doctor.
Conrad, I am a doctor.
Note to self, upon a second reading, my analyst was correct.
It has everything to do with Pygmalion.
What? What is it?
I need Jocelyn's phone number.
Stop! Don't move. Voilà.
Okay, let's uh, let's take a break. Hm.
What happened to your head?
I got hit by a truck.
I like this music selection.
Whose is it?
What are you doing here?
The whole act.
Well, it wasn't the act that bothered me.
It was the cover-up.
Well, the act was the cover-up.
I have to go back to work.
Can I have one hour?
I just need one hour.
Okay. One hour.
Yeah, thanks. I'll be right here.
I hate surprises.
You're going to like this one.
I don't understand.
It's for both of us. Don't get too excited.
It's just a rental.
There's no leaks in the ceiling.
Got his and her bathrooms.
This water is not brown.
So, did you actually go to the Picasso retrospective last week?
It was horrid.
I'm, I'm sorry, but I like his work, pretentious and adolescent.
You know, if he would just take a step back and have someone...
Have you ever noticed that the people who make fun of people for being pretentious are usually the pretentious ones?
Have you ever noticed how people only lash out on others because they're afraid of what they see if they see themselves?
What if I tell you I love you?
Does that mean I actually love myself?
I love you.
I love you, too.
It was at that moment, Conrad and Beatrice knew that it was over.
Beatrice couldn't help but feel sympathy for Conrad, not love, but sympathy.
One can often get confused for the other.
As the two exited the station, they waved good-bye to one another as usual.
It would be the last time they would ever see each other.
It seemed there was an unavoidable distinction between Conrad and Beatrice that had rendered them incompatible.
She was a hopeless romantic, and he was romantically hopeless.
By the week's end, Conrad had received a telegram informing him of his parents' reconciliation.
Their week-long divorce had grown tiresome, and they were to return home in two days' time.
As much as Beatrice had tried, she was unable to forget Conrad's actions.
Note to self, see doctor about possible brain tumor.
Conrad went on to keep the empty apartment as a sort of metaphor for the void left by Beatrice.
He told no one of its existence.
It wasn't until years later that Conrad would realize love was just like communism, it was a great idea but never quite worked out.
Conrad may have told others that he was in search of a girlfriend, a future wife, but it was merely rhetoric.
Conrad's search was for an idyllic beauty he would never attain.
Conrad often became attached to the idea of something and not the actual thing itself.
Back in The Valmont with his credit cards once again active, Conrad resumed the life he was accustomed to living, but something was different.
Like this one, right there. Get that one.
I missed it.
Tell me why the hell are we fishing with spears?
It's been a long week.
With the matriarch of The Valmont household once again home, Conrad was able to let out a decade of emotions and fears, for she had long been the only person he would truly confide in.
I think there's something wrong with me.
In an attempt to change his ways...
...Conrad started down the road to redemption with the simple gesture of quitting cigarettes, of getting his father's Austin-Healey out of hock, and on one spring afternoon while Dylan was out, Conrad snuck into his friend's apartment to finally repay him.
He not only monetarily compensated Dylan for his loan, but also included the keys to his Volvo and an inflation-adjusted interest of 20%.
These are classic symptoms.
I think you're a closet agoraphobic.
I'm terminating our sessions.
Conrad, can we talk about this later?
I'm in the middle of a session.
I don't care.
I'm getting worse.
Beatrice broke up with me and I got hit by a truck.
Look at me, I'm a mess.
Why do you think that is?
Your bad advice.
Conrad, I've been your therapist since you were nine years old.
Indeed, I think it's all that bad advice that made me the bad person I am today.
It's going to take a very long time to recover from this.
Perhaps he had the wrong office.
Hypothetically speaking, do you think someone could have a Napoleonic complex without being particularly short?
I don't believe so.
What would you call this hypothetical person then?
I think I'm an egoist.
I've never told you this before, but...
you're a horrible writer.
After several years of deliberation and public speculation, Conrad had finally finished his sophomore effort.
His inability to complete the novel had simply stemmed from his lack of understanding its central character, of course.
The central character was himself.
The book was published in the spring and received mixed reviews.
He proceeded to wave good-bye to Abigail as if routine, for he was convinced that this was not the last time that they would ever see each other.
Harold went on to keep the empty apartment as sort of a metaphor for the void left by Abigail.
He told no one of its existence.
How do you respond to the criticism that your novel is inherently derivative of the works of Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton?
Mr. Valmont, I'm sorry, but I found the book and the central character adolescent and his problems grossly inconsequential by modern social standards.
Don't you find his change at the end slightly contrived and frankly, sophomoric.
I completely disagree. I find him quite likable and his change rather significant.
At a matinee performance of Les Caprices de Marianne, the play which the once tightly knit group had all seen together, Dylan ran into Beatrice for the first time since her split with Conrad.
This was not a coincidence, however, for each had mysteriously received a ticket two days prior.
Conrad had sent the tickets in an attempt to pay penance for his actions the previous week.
The two then went to a small bar in the West Village to speak about the play.
They both enjoyed it and had seen it with a nostalgia for their old times together.
They made love that night and have been together ever since.
Dylan finally read Jane Austin's pre-Victorian classic Sense and Sensibility.
He found it neither sentimental nor unrealistic, but actually quite relatable.
Soon after their encounter outside the Hudson Playhouse, Beatrice gave up her modeling exploits and formed a jazz ensemble with Dylan.
They achieved moderate success and were happy.
Consequently, they both put on 15 pounds.
Conrad and Dylan continued their weekly conversations over squash, and for the first time, Dylan won.
Conrad saw this as a sign of change.
Dylan, however, merely felt a sense of satisfaction.
Conrad would go on to donate a large portion of his wealth to various charities and philanthropic endeavors.
Unfortunately, it took losing everything for Conrad to finally appreciate the economic stability he once had.
He wasn't going to take it for granted this time.
I really despise the whole idea that by being over privileged and well educated, that one has to live up to certain lofty expectations.
For one, you have to live under the proverbial shadow of said father and-or namesake.
Two, lofty expectations can only lead to failure, hm?
And three, more scientifically and mathematically speaking, if your parents were a great success, I think a betting man would say that the chances of lightning striking twice, especially in consecutive generations, is very slim.
You do realize you're talking to your chauffeur.
After the lukewarm reception of his second novel, Conrad began to spend more time in the country, to focus on the work, for it was only there that he felt at ease.
It appeared Conrad's allergies to grass and clean air had been completely psychosomatic.
He began to reflect back on his week with Beatrice and thought of the old adage
"Tis better to have loved and lost
"than to have never loved at all."
Conrad reluctantly agreed, for he still thought of Beatrice often.
At the ripe age of 42, Conrad Valmont was finally growing up.