You Were: The Flapper

August 16, 2010

You grew up in New York City. (It’s about time I came across someone from my own neck of the woods!) Your father was a decadent playboy. Your mother was a famous suffragette who had devoted her life to winning women the right to vote. Neither of your parents paid much attention to you. That was just the way you liked it.

From the time you could walk, everyone whispered you’d be wild. And for once, “everyone” was right. You didn’t give a hoot for convention. You had no interest in impersonating a polite little lady. You refused to sit with your legs crossed at the ankles, and you rarely went to school. (It’s not that you had no interest in education. You were just too smart to stomach your prissy schoolmates.)

Instead, you spent most of your childhood hanging out with your parents’ servants. All native New Yorkers, they knew the city better than anyone, and they showed you a world most rich girls never saw. You haggled over oysters at the city’s reeking fish markets. You stuffed your face with dumplings in the hidden restaurants of Chinatown. You knew the location of ever speakeasy this side of the Hudson River, and you weren’t afraid to pick up a few bottles of hooch for your mother’s maid. (Lord knows the poor dear needed it.) And you made a point of learning every dance nice girls didn’t do.

As you might imagine, the older you grew the more scandal swirled around you. But while the grand ladies of Fifth Avenue loved to tsk-tsk at your antics, there was one thing no one could deny. You had serious style.

The cumbersome clothes of the day didn’t exactly fit your needs. And you didn’t have time to spend hours fixing your hair each morning. So you had all your skirts lopped off above the knee and your hair cropped into a sleek little bob. When you didn’t wear skirts, you shocked everyone by donning pants instead. But you always gussied them up with four or five strands of your mother’s best pearls.

Your life was wonderful—and then women won the right to vote. For a few years after that, your mother stayed busy giving speeches to women’s groups around the country. When she felt she’d finally done her part to improve the world, she decided to focus her attention on you. As an ardent supporter of prohibition, she didn’t like what she saw.

You were nineteen, and you hadn’t come home before dawn in years. You devoted every night to drinking, dancing and all-around decadence. Or so everyone thought. You were reported to be the most frivolous girl in New York. The original flapper. But your parents’ servants (your faithful friends) knew the truth. The only secret, illegal nightclubs you frequented were the ones you owned. New York City’s most successful nightlife tycoon was a nineteen-year-old girl.

So when your mother started causing trouble, you took your fortune and hit the road. You camped out at the house of a young French designer who had long considered you her muse. You drove across Europe on a motorcycle with a famous novelist crammed into your sidecar. You posed for countless brilliant but moody painters and even married the best looking of the bunch. Six weeks later you grew tired of him and tossed his portrait of you into the Seine. He painted you from memory for the rest of his life. It seemed that everywhere you went, you inspired everyone you met. But it was your devil-may-care spirit that would prove to be your downfall. As World War II threatened Europe, your American friends begged you to return. You stubbornly refused. As always, you wanted to be in the center of the action.

After the war, at least a dozen people contacted The Finder (below) and begged her to search for their missing friend, or muse, or love of their life. She looked for years, but you were one of the few things she was never able to find.

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2 Responses to “You Were: The Flapper”

  1. Kiel Says:

    Wow!!! Sounds like a fun life!!

    Thank you so much Kristen. I love it!

  2. fairy Kat Says:

    wow i love the throwback to the finder and i just finished ur book and loved it


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