Wednesday, November 1, 2023

GLAMOROUS DISASTERS: A Fifth Avenue Teen “Porno Druggie Queen”

Here’s part of Amazon’s synopsis for Eliot Schrefer’s Glamorous Disasters (Simon & Schuster, 2006)

Noah rose from humble beginnings and [...] got himself through Princeton. Now staggering under the weight of massive student loans and dazzled by life in the big city, Noah enters the rarefied field of SAT tutoring in Manhattan, working one-on-one with the spoiled, gorgeous children of the American aristocracy.

He takes on the considerable academic challenges that are Dylan Thayer [...] and his waifish sister, Tuscany. [...] Tuscany is avidly pursuing her own downfall via drugs and relationships with men more than twice her age. 

[...] Glamorous Disasters is an incisive portrayal of a small and privileged world, a cautionary tale written by a Harvard grad who was once an SAT tutor himself -- an outsider who became a magnificently observant insider.

That’s correct. Schrefer’s a New York City based 2001 Harvard alumnus and former SAT tutor. Autofiction?

In terms of Tuscany’s drug use, the reader learned from Dylan that Tuscany used to steal pills from their mother - Dr.  Susan Thayer, the pediatrician. Dylan, “I mean, Tuscany and me [sic] used to go into my mom’s office and her bedroom all the time and steal her shit.” 17-year-old Dylan smiles crookedly. “She has all this crazy shit.” 

However, Dylan did not say exactly when 15-year-old Tuscany started stealing her mother’s (prescription) drugs.

Tuscany, “a fifteen-year-old beauty”, was expelled from Moore-Pike Girls Academy, which some referred to as “Whore-Like Girls Academy”. Why was Tuscany expelled? She sexted her teen nudes, and she was found with a number of tabs of Xanax. Consequently, Noah and his  “Hamptons-tan” was hired to prepare Tuscany for the ISEE boarding school exam. 

For their first tutoring session, Tuscany wore “tiny purple pants'' that didn’t “[...] quite make it to the top of her exposed hipbones.” “The majority of her shirts sit on only one shoulder, and her pants all require thong underwear.”

Tuscany beckoned Noah into her bedroom while she played with a strand of her “white-blond” hair - twisting “it around an orange, fake-baked finger.” (i.e., an indicator of interest).

In a bit of age-gap relationship foreshadowing, Tuscany displayed a poster of Josh Hartnett. The actor was over her bedroom desk and encased in an “ornately gilt eighteenth century frame”. Before the tutoring began, Tuscany shared with 25-year-old Noah that her boyfriend was “so much older”: 

“My boyfriend is so much older than you.”

“My mom thinks I should hang out with guys my own age.”

“[...] But guys my age are so dumb.”

And before offering Noah one, Tuscany placed a cigarette between her lips, which her mother allowed, because, as Tuscany stated, “[...] She knows I’d be eating if I wasn't smoking.” Connectedly, a pillow placed in the center of Tuscany's bed read: “Boys Like Girls Who Look Neat - When in Doubt, Just Don’t Eat!”

On the way to the next tutoring session, Noah spied Tuscany on 86th street. Tuscany and Monica,  Tuscany’s “Really tall, really skinny” friend, were observing a Victoria’s Secret “pink teddy on a waxy pale mannequin”. It appeared to Noah that Tuscany was: “[...] recounting something that recently happened to her, probably involving a boy, or [more likely] a man.”

An hour later, Noah entered Tuscany’s cigarette smoke filled bedroom where “at the sight of her swaying hips”, Noah was “overtaken by a sudden burst of nerves.” And Tuscany shared with Noah, “I’m grounded again.” Why? “This man,” she replies. “My mom is crazy.” Thus, it appears that Tuscany was grounded for participating in some salacious activity with a man whom Tuscany described as, “[...] pretty nice. And loaded.” Unsurprisingly, Tuscany opined that her mother was “crazy” for disciplining her for having an age-gap affair

And where did 15-year-old Tuscany meet men? “At a bar, a club.” “Sometimes” the men would buy Tuscany drinks, but she preferred to keep her options open.

During a subsequent tutoring session, Tuscany wore: “[...] denim shorts that have been cut so high that the white cotton pockets hang to midthigh.” And a “tiny pink “Wild Girls” T-shirt”. Noah surmised that Tuscany was: “[...] probably planning her next date with an older man [...]”

Noah described Tuscany as a “hot girl in tiny shorts” ; thus, it was his “[...] job to look at her as little as possible.” But admittedly, it took “[...] resolve to keep his gaze averted.”

During the tutoring session, Noah asked Tuscany about It’s All You - Tuscany’s glossy teen fashion magazine. Here’s the headline on page 8 with Tuscany Thayer’s byline: “Hewitt Hos and Nightingale Nymphos: The Sluttiest Manhattan Schools Exposed”

And what did Roberto, Noah’s Albanian roommate, exclaim when he saw Tuscany on the cover of It’s All You? 

“Wow,” Roberto says libidinously

“This bitch is hot,” Roberto adds. “Seriously, Noah, you have to let me meet her.”

“No,” Noah says, his eyes flashing. “Absolutely not.”

“You’ve got to be shittin’ me. Why not [...]?”

“She’s a kid. Stop it.”

However, that night Noah was “alarmed by his [own] flicker of attraction” to Tuscany whom reminded Noah of his age-gap tutor-tutee attraction to Monroe. 

After Monroe he promised himself never to be drawn to another student. He stuffs It’s All About You under his mattress.

He thought he had banished Monroe from his mind, thought he had healed, but suddenly he feels the shame and guilt afresh. The depth of his feelings for her was inappropriate, he knows. His intense affection led him to consider doing things he should never have done, for which he can’t forgive himself. He distrusts his own feelings toward Tuscany, second-guesses himself: surely he isn’t repeating history, allowing attraction to distort his sense of duty?

Do you remember Monica, Tuscany’s “really tall, [and] really skinny” friend? Well, Cameron, another tutee, shared with Noah, “Well, they’re totally not friends anymore.” Why? Tuscany disappeared with Monica’s “totally hot doorman”.

“Monica has this totally hot doorman. Like, a little like Colin Farrel. And this one night Tuscany goes to Monica’s but, well, the doormen call up from the desk to say that she arrived, but she never makes it to Monica’s apartment”

“Whatever, I’m not going to say what I think, I’m sure she’s totally nice, but my friends say she’s a slut.”

Eventually, instead of going to boarding school, Tuscany: “[...] got into Choate, began the spring semester, and was removed from classes three days in [...]” Consequently, Noah was upgraded from tutor to teacher with teaching being done between Tuscany’s riding, ballet and piano lessons. 

After Noah became Tuscany’s teacher, Roberto suggested that Noah have a student-teacher sexual affair with Tuscany, whom Roberto referred to as “the bitch from the magazine”. But Noah replied, “She’s my student, Rob. And she’s fifteen. That’s not going to happen.”

However, Roberto persisted, “Just do things, don’t worry about what’s gonna happen, you know?” And Roberto suggested that Noah stick his hands in Tuscany’s pants or as a last resort, Roberto suggested that Noah kiss his student. 

On the first (home) school day, Noah: “[...] was nervous about entering the bedroom of a sleeping hot fifteen-year-old.” However, Dr. Thayer had Agnès, Tuscany’s assistant, prepare the dining table as Dr. Thayer deemed that it was “improper” for Noah to spend all his time in Tuscany’s bedroom.

Tuscany attended their first class: “[...] wearing a clubbing shirt emblazoned with a sequined martini glass, the neckline dipping to the tops of her breasts.” And “skin-tight denim”. Why? Per the narrator, Tuscany “[...] draws focus to herself whenever she can.” Consequently, Noah reprimanded himself: “[...] stop looking at the slender fingers playing with her bra strap, the butterfly wings of her breastbone.”

Later, Noah learned from Dr. Thayer that Tuscany had dated “forty-year-olds”, but Dr. Thayer didn’t “think” that Tuscany was still dating older men; however, Dylan referred to his sister as the “porno druggie queen”.

At Pangaea’s, a Manhattan night club, while Noah was at the bar, Dylan entered with an entourage:

Two are long-haired and handsome [...] Upper East Side twentysomething aristocracy; the other is an eyebrow-pierced Asian kid about Dylan’s age.

Noah learned from an aristocrat that Tuscany patronized Pangaea “all the time” - with the aristocrat. And, to Dylan’s dismay, Noah learned that Tuscany was the aggressor in the age-gap affair with aristocracy. 

“Hey, Dylan,” Roberto asks, “where’s your sister tonight?”
“My sister? She’s like fifteen. She’s at home.”
“Come on, Dylan,” an aristocrat says. “You know she’s here all the time.”
“Yeah,” says the other aristocrat to the first. “Here with you!”
“That had better not happen ever again, asshole.” Dylan says darkly. “Don’t ever let me hear about you touching her.”
“Dylan, Dylan.” The aristocrat over enunciates, bathing the group in beer vapor. “Don’t you remember? Maybe you were too coked up. She was touching me.”

The Asian kid shared some more details about Tuscany, Pangaea and men. The Asian kid pointed out a man “thirty-five, one hand against his belly and the other holding an unlit cigar” whom Tuscany had been “with for a while”. 

Interestingly, the Asian kid opined that Tuscany was too hot, and he related that Tuscany knew that there was a positive correlation between being skinny, being hot and being the center of attention at Pangaea. Consequently, she got “eaten alive” before turning eighteen due to men offering her drinks and drugs in exchange for teen sex. 

And it was the Asian kid who revealed to Noah why Tuscany was expelled from prep school. 

Asian kid: “What were you tutoring her for, the SAT already?”

Noah: No, no, the ISEE. She wanted to go to boarding school.”

Asian kid: “Oh right. I forgot, she got busted for sending naked pictures to some guy and having like forty bajillion tabs of Xanax.”

Later in the novel, Noah chaperoned Tuscany and Octavia, Tuscany’s teen friend, on a field trip to France. Octavia carried herself with a “voluptuous sense of sexual possibility”. On the Air France flight, 15-year-old Tuscany imbibed a miniature bottle of wine. And after landing, Tuscany and Octavia “developed an instant crush on Benoît” - the French tour guide and father of two. 

After returning to Tuscany’s Fifth Avenue bedroom, for being such a credible chaperone, Tuscany gifted her teacher:

A pink oxford. The fabric is sail-thick, as if made from the very stuff of yachts. The sleeves can be rolled up when watching a regatta or worn down for cocktails on the lawn.

While changing into the pink oxford in Tuscany’s bathroom, Noah’s “thoughts leap to horrible places” like the “bliss he would feel should he have ducked into the bathroom after having slept with Tuscany.”

After emerging from the bathroom, Tuscany, braless and with her lips inches away from her teacher’s, seductively adjusted the pink oxford. Tuscany’s young fingers skated across her teacher’s pectorals and lingered on his chest. Ergo, Noah was tempted to embrace his student, but he opined that Tuscany did not need another man “holding her”. And Noah was not like Roberto whom did not fear the potential consequences of having an age-gap affair with a 15-year-old.  

Later, at a dinner party for Mr. Thayer, Tuscany was dressed “like a fairy-tale princess” in a “red silken dress, ribbed in a darker red” - crisscrossed in the front and tied low in the back. Consequently, a group of men in business suits with names like “Solomon X, X Lidden III, Powel X, Peter X Stockton, and a half dozen Andrews” formed an “admiring circle” around the nymphet where Tuscany received “admiring glances”. 

After Octavia arrived “wearing a very short dress” “with lips glossed and erotically parted”, the two nymphets faced “down unsuspecting thirty-year-old bachelors are in arm, giggling and laying their hands on the unwary men.”

In the end, Olena, Noah’s Albanian immigrant tutee, fittingly said, “Perhaps we have fallen into a type. Student and teacher fall in love. It happens all the time, no?” 

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