Wives

"I just don't understand when smart men marry lesser women."

1

I met Adele Morales pka Adele Mailer at a nursing home in the upper east side of Manhattan several years ago when I went there to recruit super senior mentors for working professionals. Adele is the first wife of Norman Mailer; the one he stabbed in the chest with a knife. She was a painter, and had written a book that was not well reviewed, but got an obit in the Times when she passed away a few years ago. I’ll never forget what she said:

I can mentor any woman who is married to a famous man. It’s really a peculiar job. 

I hate Norman Mailer.

2

I met (famous photographer) backstage at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles years ago, sitting in a green room with a tour manager, girlfriend, wife and a member of the headlining band. The photographer, let’s call her Summer, was telling us about another show she’d just documented and the lead singer’s girlfriend on tour. Summer was thoroughly impressed with how intellectual the singer was, and how thoughtful he was about the world, but the girlfriend was, in her opinion, flailing a bit in conversation; confused and unable to keep up in their conversation. Summer preferred talking to him alone, she said, and added:

I just don’t understand when smart men date lesser women.

She looked around the room as an awkward silence fell throughout, and I was self-conscious she may have been thinking of any one of us—the band member was the only man in the room and the rest of us were in a manner of speaking, attached to someone much more famous than ourselves. Because the photographer never bothered to learn my name or find out anything about me over the several days we were around each other, I got defensive. My person and I had once joked that I was over-educated and hence too smart to do something as stupid as be in a band, but of course I would only be known in this world as someone’s girlfriend. I found out later that my person had slept with the tour manager and almost threw up.

3

I heard a funny rumor once at the gallery in Tokyo that represents Yayoi Kusama. Well, a couple rumors. One, that her discovery agent was a down-and-out ad exec until her shit went huge, and he went on to make Dentsu (Japan’s biggest ad agency) a jillion dollars. Two, in the 1970s she’d apparently said when compared to Yoko Ono, “at least I didn’t have to marry a white guy/rock star to get the world’s attention.” The artist who told me this story said in Japanese “I love when ferociously iconic women fight.” 

4

I cannot believe that in the Tina Turner biography she goes on and on about how tired she is of being asked about Ike, but then the movie spends two thirds of its duration talking about their relationship.

5

I accompany a friend to a maternity store to look for pregnancy jeans, when a woman that Simon Cowell knocked up outside of his marriage and been hence the biggest city gossip at the time, entered the store. Without really understanding who she was, it was clear she was “a person of interest” as everyone’s attention shifted toward her, and the staff took extra measure to make her comfortable. I only learned who she was once my friend pointed it out, but I was rapt for the rest of our visit, by her behavior and attention, how loudly she mentioned what Simon wants.

6

Frail Sister by Karen L. Green is an amazing book. You might know her from Bough Down, which she wrote after her husband famously committed suicide.