"Finding a suitable date in the city is like trying to find a fifteen-million-dollar movie actor who isn't into Scientology."
The heroine of the comic strip Emily Briggs draws for Vogue has sex and the city at her well-manicured fingertips. If only Emily could say the same. Her overbearing socialite mom scrutinizes Emily's life as closely as she does her Botoxed face. Her best friend has traded in Mojitos for a dull life with two kids. Her cousin Anne -- the one who turned husband-hunting into a Discovery Channel special on predators -- has finally bagged a fianc�. And her best friend Dash, her last dating safety net, is now attached to a leggy blonde who has the strange fortune of being smart, as well.
"It's humiliating that my parents have a more active social life than I do."
Enter bad-boy artist Henry Phillips. He of the dark hair, blue eyes, and must-have-sex-now grin. Suddenly, Emily's life is getting to be more like her art -- crazed, unpredictable, filled with hilarious twists, heartbreaking turns, and fashion-forward characters who think of Bergdorf's as their own backyard. Now, with her heart on the line and her life changing faster than a diva hosting an awards ceremony, Emily's in for a wild ride that could take her through love, over-the-top weddings, and low-fat ice cream . . . all the way to growing up.
Jacqueline deMontravel is the co-author of 21st Century Etiquette (Lyons Press, Fall '01) with Charlotte Ford and The Perfect Feet (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, Spring '03). She was formerly the editor of Country magazine, a lifestyle publication targeting the Hamptons and published by M. Shanken Communications. Other experiences include Senior Editor at Self magazine, where she wrote, styled and edited the fashion and lifestyle features of the book. As the Fashion Director of Oxygen Media's style site, she produced all related content. She is a freelance features editor with Harper's Bazaar. She has also written for The New York Times, Aficionado, Lucky and Black Book magazines.
Jacqueline's television experience includes regular reporting on style trends for Oxygen. She was the lifestyle correspondent for The Place, a program formerly on Lifetime Television and has appeared on FOX, E!, WABC-TV and The Metro Channel.
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Read an Excerpt
An asthmatic wheezing sound pounded in my head. I was unable to breathe, as if suffocated by various slabs of flesh -- an arm, a stomach. I was under attack by these globs of gummy skin. This was a sex dream, but not the good kind.
I made myself wake up.
I looked to the colored pencils and sketch pad next to my bed -- in case I needed to put an inspiring reverie to paper. Nothing came to me, but I took a moment to admire my wall of drawings, framed in vanilla-colored wood.
"It was all just a bad dream," I said, mothering myself. The morning sunlight felt good, but it could have been more penetrating. The old heater rattled, coughing up misty heat. First time it had been on this season; fall had arrived. Still, I was a bit cold. Why was I so cold? I peeked under the covers. I was nude.
I don't sleep in the nude -- too drafty. And what was that on the floor next to my panties? No. A pair of boxer shorts, next to my Pucci panties? Not a cool pair of boxers. Not even Gap boxers. No, this was a pair of poly/cotton blend boxers, the three-in-a-pack kind.
"Oh. My. God. Could it be?" My vision panned to a piece of footsy panty hose, which I don't wear. No, it was a cellophane-y piece of something. Oh. God. It was. It was a condom!
It wasn't a dream. I had had sex with Stewie Berkowitz.
"I haven't been with someone for ten months." I said it defensively, not thrilled with having to explain myself to Dash. "Before I accepted abstinence as part of my life, I did what I had to do to stay in practice."
"In other words, you were a total slut." Dash swiveled his drink in the air and the ice chimed against the glass.
In an attempt to collect myself, I took a large swig from my gimlet, more appropriate to a pint of Guinness at a World Cup soccer game. The sharp, sour taste had no effect on me.
I was unable to collect myself.
"You're calling a girl who hasn't had sex for ten months -- despite many opportunities may I add -- a slut?" My voice was a notch too loud for a public place.
This was my classic behavior: debating a point even though there was no argument to be won. Rationally, I knew Dash's attacks were in jest. He knows that I am not a slut. Dash continually questions my feeble sex life, always bringing to my attention the delusional standards I have for men and dating. He was probably even relieved that I had broken this dry spell -- yet his power to taunt always got the better of me. Truthfully I was not particularly proud of the fact that I had had sex with Stewie Berkowitz. The boy just had the luck of my pathetic timing.
Dash was just getting started on me. Luckily the bartender came by to refill our drinks.
"Do you want another?" Dash asked tenderly, pointing to our empty glasses.
This bartender knew when to intercept a doomed conversation. He also had looks that could get him a job convincing girls like me that they need to add to another already owned pair of strappy sandals at Gucci. I gladly broke my two-gimlet Tuesday-night limit.
Dash started a polite conversation about the Yankees with the bartender, while I started ogling him. I loathed baseball. Such a bore. Why are those games so damn long? And the players aren't cute enough to sustain my stares.
Dash smiled knowingly, aware of my thoughts. We've exhausted and stopped discussing our views on men and sports.
One of the reasons why I adored Dash was that he could come off intelligently to his fellow sex by playing the "guy's guy" role -- talking sports, scores, teams -- yet he found no value in altering his life just to watch the big game. As he laughed with the bartender, I found that my gaze was now focusing on Dash. He was much better looking when acting civil.
I have always been drawn to Dashiel Hatch. He is my best friend. We both began jobs together in MTV's marketing department. Newly plucked from our New England schools, campuses that will keep the LL Bean Norwegian sweater and bloocher moccasin in perpetuity. We assumed that we had scored the best possible postgraduate job, while our friends worked at investment firms or took unpaid internships at companies that weren't nearly as cool as MTV.
We started on the same day, October 5, 1991. We dressed alike. Dash wore khakis and a Brooks Brothers purple gingham shirt, and I wore a purple plaid miniskirt with calf-hugging boots. Well, this was essentially dressing alike, when you considered the tattoos, shaved heads, and pro-anarchy T-shirts of the other assistants. MTV was where Dashiel became Dash, to give a little edge to his congenital preppy demeanor, although he wouldn't admit to that.
Dash and I were the most qualified MTV assistants, which is not saying much considering that the latest Microsoft software has made our old jobs obsolete. Occasionally writing an internal press release or assembling a focus group were the perks that kept us sated in an otherwise watch-the-clock position. The routine of making a surreptitious sprint for the elevator minutes before 7:00 P.M. would usually elicit the "what, half day?" remark from someone who needed to be getting out of the office more, having a more interesting life.
While every overly qualified administrative assistant must endure the painfully humiliating tasks of the office peon, Dash and I did not employ the "pay your dues, build the resume" career strategy. And as cool as fish tanks and graffiti-painted halls were, the MTV offices didn't motivate us. My job lasted a month, but resulted in the longest postgraduate adult relationship of my life.
Dash segued his MTV experience into a job as a production assistant at one of the local news stations. He was now one of the youngest executive producers at a network newsmagazine show. I have become an illustrator. You may have seen my name, Emily Briggs, inscribed on the latest Sin Spa campaign.
I used to work as an art director for a home decor magazine, for an editor who played politics by day, and maintained her sinewy editrix image, courtesy of the David Barton Gym, by night. She looked at commissioned art with the exacting standards of an auction house appraiser, yet waited to share her opinions until the last rational moment before production. In need of a drawing of a Louis XIV chair, unbeknownst to my editor, I resorted to sketching one myself. To my relief, and surprise, it met with her approval. So I composed a portfolio -- with my chair drawing and images taken from my doodle scrapbooks -- and began looking for freelance work. Now a campaign I have for a city department store pays more than my annual salary at that estrogen-ridden magazine.
The bartender left the table so I stopped staring at Dash. Tonight he was wearing khakis and a pale purple gingham shirt with Tod driving moccasins. Not much had changed in ten years. He still had his sandy blond hair that doesn't seem to get blonder even after a summer at the beach, his ski-slope nose and his sliced eyes. Just think Tom Brokaw in his prime. I supposed Dash was cute. I think I even had the hots for him that first day we were introduced at MTV, but due to my being in a relationship and his search-and-destroy period with women, a romantic interlude was not about to happen. We became such quick best friends, and, well you know how it is with best friends, you just don't see them in that way.
I was wearing a corduroy skirt where the floral print was adorned with beads. It was a fall purchase, worn for the first time. I looked good. Clothes always look their best the first time you wear them. Not because they come with those perfectly manufactured creases (which soon lose their definition after a day in a closet the size of a gym locker), but because you purchase them with a complete outfit in mind. The magazine-ready perfection of your outfit doesn't last long, as your new purchase inevitably becomes one of many functional pieces thrown on in a preworkday frenzy.
The red and black flowers perfectly complemented my Chanel dual-tone ballet flats and my all-dependable red Birkin bag. I am not one of those girls who have a bag for every occasion. After closing my savings account to make the purchase, I rationalized that choosing the bag instead of the New School art program was justified because I would use it every day.
Now Dash was staring at me -- a stare laced with judgment and smugness as he reveled watching me squirm over his knowledge of the Stewie Berkowitz incident. It was almost cruel, I thought, how well he knew me, knew how to torment me. He was finding immense pleasure in my agitated state, until I began to argue my case.
"Oh, stop positioning me as this desperate, open-my-legs-for-any-guy-with-a-presentable-face type of girl." I repositioned myself on the bar stool. "You should know better. And Stewie isn't all that bad, even if he is a little gummy bear."
"Gummy bears are cute, Emily," he said, again with that dry smugness.
I reviewed my mental picture of Stewie -- his moon-shaped face, bagel rolls and dark eyes that popped out like a marsupial. Once his hair begins to thin he will resemble a corrupted hobbit in good clothes but bad boxers.
Reminded of the morning incident, which I had been trying to block out, I suddenly remembered hearing the flush of the toilet. He had used my toilet. And he hadn't put the seat back down. I remembered hearing the bathroom door close, the floorboards creaking as he approached. Each step thumping to the beat of my heart. Now I knew how a victim felt in the path of a slasher-style murderer. Oh. My. God. Stewie Berkowitz had walked into my bedroom with no pretense. He was fat. He was naked. And I couldn't help but see his penis. What had I been thinking?
Copyright � 2004 Jacqueline deMontravel
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
A terrific read that explores the endless possibilities between men and women. I loved it.
(Pamela Clarke Keogh, author of Audrey Style and Jackie Style)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I just read Emily Briggs on vacation and couldn't put it down. I finished it in 3 days. It was a great, fast read. Loved every minute of it. I live in NYC and could relate to her immensely! I really enjoyed it and didn't want it to end.
Romance, comedy, literature and even a little self-help. Emily Briggs has everything, very enjoyable read.
Normally I am not one for this genre of fiction but a copy made its way to me via a close friend, and it's been an especially cold weekend. I started the book yesterday and just finished it. I think I know this Emily Briggs.
I've moved from New York and found myself easily brought back through the eyes of this silly, very relatable character. Emily Briggs is smart and funny,