We Loved a Serial Dater
On a recent afternoon, seven women gathered in Manhattan, over wine, cheese, and cigarettes, to animatedly discuss the one thing they had in common: a man. Specifically, an Eligible Man of Manhattan, a man we’ll call “Tom Peri.”
Tom Peri is forty-three years old, five feet, ten inches tall, with straight
Brown hair. There is nothing remarkable about his appearance, save for a penchant, a few years ago, for dressing in black Armani suits paired with wacky suspenders. He comes from a wealthy manufacturing family and grew up on Fifth Avenue and in Bedford, New York. He lives in a modern high-rise on Fifth Avenue.
Over the last fifteen years, Peri, who is almost always referred to by his last name only, has become something of a legend in New York. He’s not exactly a womanizer, because he’s always trying to get married. Peri is, rather, one of the city’s most accomplished serial daters, engaging in up to twelve “relationships” a year. But after two days or two months, the inevitable happens. Something goes wrong, and, he says, “I get dumped.”
For a certain type of woman – thirtyish, ambitious, well placed socially – dating Peri, or avoiding his attentions, has become nothing less than a rite of passage, sort of like your first limo ride and your first robbery, combined.
Even among the city’s other notorious ladies’ men, Peri stands out. For
One thing, he appears to be holding far fewer cards. He has neither the wellbred good looks of Count Erik Wachtmeister nor the free-flowing cash of Mort Zuckerman.
I wanted to know, What’s Peri got?
Each of the women I contacted had been involved with Peri – either
Intimately or as an object of his ardent affections – and each said she had dumped him. None refused my request to get together for a session of Talking about Peri. Each woman, perhaps, had
something. . . unresolved about Peri. Maybe they wanted him back. Maybe they wanted him dead.
“LIKE DARYL VAN HORNE”
We met at the home of Sarah, a filmmaker who used to be a model, “until I got sick of the bullshit and gained twenty pounds.” She wore a dark pinstripe suit. “When you look over the list of guys you’ve dated, Peri is the one guy that doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “You think, What was that about?”
But before we could even get to the juicy bits, we made a disturbing
Discovery. Although none of the women had heard from Peri for months, that morning he had called four of them.
“I don’t think he knows anything, I think it was just coincidence,” said
Magda. Magda has been friends with Peri for years – in fact, most of her girlfriends are former dates of Peri’s, whom she met through him.
“He knows everything about us,” one woman said. “He’s like Daryl Van
Home in The Witches of Eastwick.”
“Van Horney is more like it,” said another. We opened the wine.
“The thing with Peri is this,” said Sarah. “The reason he’s so charming is. when vou first meet him. he is articulate, he is funny – and, he’s available at all times, because he doesn’t work. What’s more fun than a guy who says, ‘Meet me for lunch,’ then you go back to work,
Then he says ‘Meet me for cocktails at six?’ When was the last time you went out with a guy who actually wanted to see you three times a day?”
“‘Cocktails’ is such a loaded word,” said Magda. “It’s like Katharine
Hepburn and Cary Grant.”
Jackie, a magazine editor, said, “When I met him, we started seeing each other instantly – five nights a week. He won’t leave you alone.”
“He’s smart, because the thing that he does is, he loves the phone,” said Sarah.