Tainted Love

by Susan Orlean
The New Yorker
July 14, 2002

I want to make a confession: I am passionately and uncontrollably in love with Dick Cheney. Lynne, I'm sorry; if I could help it I would. It's just something about him -- the strength, the silence, the frank and unabashed baldness, the mystery, the unknowability, the man, the myth, the Vice-Presidentialness of him. It's wild, it's mad, it's hunger, we're crazy like a couple of kids in the last week of school when the teacher is out with a communicable disease and the substitute is a moron and we've sneaked out to the playground -- you know, that kind of crazy. There is nothing about him that doesn't transport me to a different, deeper, more womanly place. In a funny way, the undisclosed-safe-location weekends just add a frisson of stolen pleasure to the roiling emotions we share. There. I've said it. I can't hide it anymore.

Actually, it feels so good to get that off my chest that I'm inclined to make another confession: I've never felt about any man the way I feel about Michael Ovitz. It's beyond desire; it's beyond reason. We know each other in a way that requires no language, no gestures, no contracts, no commissions, no application of foreign substances. He is mine, I am his; I, speaking strictly personally, need no other. I know Michael's pain, his joy, his renewed pain, and his A.T.M. PIN code, but that was more by accident, from randomly punching in numbers and getting it right, and, by the way, he doesn't know mine, because, well, frankly, he never asked, but if he did -- and I don't expect him to, but I'm just saying -- if he did ask, I would tell him, because we're close in that way. The way in which you would tell each other your PIN codes and never ever think that maybe just once, if you happened to leave your wallet in your other purse, you might need to use it that one time, and you were planning to pay the money back, probably before the person even noticed and felt hurt and betrayed and had that kind of nauseated, light-headed, over-leveraged feeling that so gnaws at the soul.

And I beg you, don't even mention the Men of Enron. With them and me, it's more of an animal thing, more of an actual physical need, an ache so intense it almost hurts. I happened to mention this ache to my internist the other day -- just casually, of course, so as not to alarm her, and also because I recently got new health insurance and didn't want to have to name a date of onset of this ache, because it might be construed as a pre"existing condition, which means, of course, that they (my insurance company, not the Men of Enron) would give me nothing for it. That isn't the issue, anyway -- I'm not looking for the co-pay or even eighty-per-cent coverage after the deductible; it's different from that -- it's wild, it's mad, it's hunger. It's a huge thing; it's bigger than just my urges for K. and J. and A.; it's them, of course, but it's also the he-men in the Death Star/Fat Boy energy-trading unit and the smoldering hunks in accounting and LMJ II. I don't know who I want the most among them, and I don't care, when I feel like this. It's springtime. I am Love. I need nothing more.

I was watching the Home Shopping Network the other day to see if I could catch a glimpse of someone I'm sort of interested in (O.K., since you asked: Barry Diller), and I was feeling a little depressed, on account of its being a holiday -- I think it was either Administrative Professionals Day or maybe Take Our Daughters to Work Day -- anyway, there I was, all alone, my passion and devotion notwithstanding, my men so close and yet actually not the least bit close at all; in fact, they were far, far away and I was alone on the couch with nothing but my tattered, soiled, slightly foxed memories of our union. Excuse me, our unions. And then I thought, Silly girl! You're lucky to even know them! Lucky to have heard them testify before Congress -- or refuse to testify; lucky to have consoled them as they lost their hair, their status, their customary tables at exclusive restaurants, and as they escaped the packs of sensation-seeking media jackals nipping at their heels; and, yes, lucky to have known their love as no other has, or can, or will, yet knowing that it need not -- should not! -- be shared with the gaping masses until a decent interval after their untimely passing from this hurly-burly world of ours, when an orderly book-rights auction can finally take place. And then, just like that, I was at peace.

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