Uit: Our Young Man
“Although Guy was thirty-five he was still working as a model, and certain of his more ironic and cultured friends called him, as the dying Proust had been called by Colette, “our young man.” For so many years he’d been actually young; he’d arrived from Paris to New York in the late 1970s when he was in his late twenties but passed as nineteen. He’d been the darling of Fire Island Pines the summers of 1980 and 1981; everyone in the Octagon House was in love with him and he was a good deal more egalitarian and participatory in chores and expenses than he needed to be, splitting the grocery and house cleaning bills down to the last penny, even when he skipped meals or entire weekends.
Everyone adored him, so he could have skimped on his share. He was making $175 an hour as a model for a whole host of beauty products, which was a lot of money in those days; he made more in two hours than his housemate, the young journalist Howard, earned in a week, or Howard’s lover the mustachioed Cuban bartender Martin took in at Uncle Charlie’s in tips on two or three shifts. Even his heavy French accent made him all the more desirable; one of their most besotted housemates, Tom, started taking French lessons but could never master a whole sentence.
Nor was he stinting with his favors. He’d swallow an after- dinner concoction Ted would assemble of acid, tranquilizers, Quaaludes, and the odd yellow jacket. After a strenuous night of dancing at the Sandpiper he’d be found nude at dawn, splayed in the surf with three other amorous beauties or massaging a Croatian fellow model on the deck by the pool as they sipped big shaggy joints of Acapulco gold.
He liked the Pines, since the muscular men there were bankers or lawyers or surgeons and not just gigolos, as comparable studs would have been in Saint-Tropez, lounging around on the decks of moored yachts (or “laying out in the sun,” as these American guys all said, though Guy knew from lycée English class back in France that it should be “lying”; the French, he thought primly, would never have made a similar mistake in their own language).
He was from Clermont-Ferrand, a big, dead, dreary industrial city in the heart of France, lava-black, cold in the winter and suffocatingly hot in the summer, and now he sent home a thousand dollars a month from New York to his pious mother, who arranged the flowers for the altar, and his Communist father, a Michelin factory hand who’d been laid off for twenty years, living on welfare and drinking too much red wine (his first coup de rouge he downed at eleven every morning, an old habit from his working days).”
Edmund White (Cincinnati, 13 januari 1940)