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Alice Kahn

Hard Facts of Life in the Yuppie Style

October 02, 1988|Alice Kahn

It is morning in a kinder, gentler America. Dirk Miller and Bree Wellington have just turned over 6-month-old Rachel Whoopi to Celestina, her au pair. The Miller-Wellingtons are enjoying a high-fiber, low-cholesterol breakfast of fresh fruit, whole-wheat raisin scones and Metamucil.

"I don't know why you agree to do pro bono work," Dirk says, as he passes his wife the apple chutney. "It's not like you have a lot of spare time. Because if you do, I wouldn't mind a little attention."

"You know, Dirk, this is a very important case. You can't evict a homeless man from a dumpster without bringing up fundamental questions about the nature of property. This could be a precedent-setting case. . . ."

"Yeah. Yeah. I've heard this spiel a million times," he says. "Toss me a melon ball."

"Sorry if I bore you, but I have to listen to all your petty little business problems. . . ."

"Petty, Bree? You think it's petty that Recovery Inc. is in trouble? You think it's boring that our growth chart was flat for the past three months? If we don't sell any new franchises you can kiss Celestina adios. I've been trying to tell you that nobody is opening any new withdrawal centers. The middle-class coke-addict market is tapped out."

Bree suddenly stands still at the coffee grinder and drops the bag of fresh-roast beans. "Are you telling me . . . ?"

"I'm telling you that our income is stagnant."

She sits down in the cane and oak chair with a look of terror on her face. "But what about the stocks?"

"Bree, you've been so wrapped up in your work that you haven't noticed what Louis Rukeyser said after the show on 'The AIDS Crisis: What's in It for Me?' He said that nothing is certain. Not even pharmaceuticals."

"OK, OK," Bree says, filling the filter paper with Colombian, "I'll drop the guy in the dumpster tomorrow and get back into the real estate section."

"Good," Dirk says. "And while you're at it, you could spend a little more time with Rachel Whoopi. You're overextended. You've got a 6-month-old child, a 2-hour commute, a full-time job, a 1-hour workout and a sex-starved husband."

"You know, Dirk, I could get a lot more done if I had a little help around here."

"Bree, I already do the cooking, the laundry, the grocery shopping, and I'm building R. W. an 45-square-foot state-of-the-art play structure. What else can I do."

"You could take back the videos," she says, pouring a packet of Equal in her coffee.

"Videos? What did we rent?"

"We got 'Last Emperor' and 'Hairspray.' I didn't see them either but it was a two-for-one day," she says, chug-a-lugging her coffee. "I've got to run and pick up a couple guys so I can get in the commute lane."

"You know, babe, sometimes I worry about you and these strangers. How do you know they're OK?"

"Because bums don't wear Italian suits, carry leather attache cases and Nike equipment bags, and lean over their disposable cups of cafe latte to avoid dribbling on their power ties."

It was a compelling argument.

As Bree gives him a peck on the cheek he grabs her arm and says, "I'm not letting you go until you tell me your answer."

"All right. Here goes: I'm voting for Dukakis," she says, ". . . because he's pro-choice and he cooks."

"Great," Dirk mutters. "No sex and now this. Dukakis. You must be kidding. Do you want to lose everything we've got?"

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