I confess—when I saw that little pink raincoat on the cover of Gigi Anders’s new memoir, I realized I had coveted that same coat when it appeared in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. I admired her tenacity in acquiring it and understood the instant emotional lift that comes with a sassy new coat, a drop-dead dress, or a pair of killer shoes. I could imagine the two of us trolling through Target or the “last call” racks at Neiman’s. A woman who understands retail therapy is a woman after my own heart.
But all too soon, my shopping buddy morphed into a bed-hopping partier whose excesses weren’t limited to dresses. Anders unabashedly accepts $500 from her married dermatologist to buy peach-colored lingerie for their intimate encounters. He also throws in a lot of free skin-care samples. Anders doesn’t seem to have qualms about adultery. When the doctor ends their affair, she suffers no pangs of guilt, reasoning that at least the skin products cured her “backne.”
Her affair with the dermatologist—whom she calls Doctor Fruit Cocktail, or DFC, for reasons I can’t say on a family Web site—isn’t without pulse-pounding moments. She describes their first date, when her eager swain offers to bring dinner to her walk-up apartment in Takoma Park:
“I could hear him arduously climbing the stairs and grunting, for God’s sake. Didn’t he say he regularly played handball ‘at the club’ with a reconstructive plastic surgeon, an otolaryngologist, and an infertility gynecologist? . . . Oh God, what if he had a heart attack and died in the dirty stairwell? All that good food would be wasted! How tragic! Then the Washington Post would write about it in the Metro section, and Neiman Marcus would go berserk, and I’d be implicated and—”
Reading Anders—a Post special correspondent now living in New Jersey—is a little like watching reality TV. You can’t believe she exposes every aspect of her messy life to public scrutiny—but you can’t turn away, either. Why is she looking for love in all the wrong places? How can she possibly pay for three pairs of ballerina flats from Saks Fifth Avenue? When does she find time to work as a newsroom aide or freelance writer with all that romance, recovery, and binge shopping? Will she ever run out of run-on sentences?
Anders’s book may be mind candy, but it is fun. And Washington readers will get a kick out of the local references—from crossing Connecticut Avenue at rush hour to sunning in Ocean City. I just wish she hadn’t confided that her adulterous dermatologist was on The Washingtonian’s Top Doctors list.