Gallantry was his forte. That and a charming total recall of faces and small details that women confided while slow dancing at parties.
The second time he met a woman, he’d lean in and whisper, “You are wearing Obsession tonight. I thought White Diamonds was your scent,” or some version thereof.
The woman would be utterly captivated — and utterly sure he was smitten with her. Who else but a suitor would have memorized her perfume?
It was his favorite parlor trick.
One spring evening, at a party for the Italian ambassador, he was standing by a stunning Eurasian woman in teal blue taffeta. They had met once before (La Scalla-November- intermission-Puccini, his mental Rolodex informed him), and he opened with, “Have you been to the opera since we last spoke?”
She registered no surprise, saying, “I see you have given up horn-rimmed glasses.”
He bent to her beautiful shoulder and murmured, “And you are still wearing Fleurs-du-Rocaille.”
Brushing her lips over his ear she countered, “And you still drown your neck in Polo by Ralph Lauren.”
“Have you missed me?” he asked, feeling strangely heady. No woman had ever parried his thrusts so nimbly.
“Not at all,” she answered. “I keep quite busy.”
“So do I,” he said, “and quite enjoyably.”
“Do your lady friends take you to Monte Carlo for the season?”
“Well, no, that’s not how women relate to me.”
“Then,” she whispered deliciously again, “I get the better bargain. Now, as you have no fortune to spend on me, do excuse me while I refresh my perfume. I have a wealthy Belgian banker to confuse.”