Rita Jenrette took the pen into her trembling hand and began writing.
It was hard at first, but then it came easy. She was strong, yet somehow soft. Her breasts heaved with emotion, her soul burned with fire and ice. Filled with feelings she had never known before, she gently wiped a tear from her moist eyes, which were somehow dry with determination.
The result of her labor is "Conglomerate," a novel about bedrooms, boardrooms and breasts. You might wonder how such a silly manuscript ever found its way into print. Ask Richardson & Steirman, the Manhattan publisher that brought us Mikhail Gorbachev's memoirs and then hawked them on TV like a Veg-o-Matic. The company obviously hopes to cash in on what's left of Jenrette's fading notoriety.
In case you've already forgotten, Jenrette is the buxom blond ex-wife of former representative John Jenrette, nabbed in the Abscam sting. Rita was the redneck answer to Mo Dean. She stood by her man, God bless her, in plunging necklines, posed for Playboy and told reporters she and her husband once made love on the steps of the Capitol.
Then she wrote a quickie paperback, "My Capitol Secrets," of which there were none, pursued an acting career ("Zombie Island Massacre") and last year had found the Lord in Norman Vincent Peale's church. When last heard from, she was working for a Wall Street commodities firm.
"Conglomerate" must be somebody's idea of a joke.
Supposedly based on Jenrette's vast knowledge of big business, the book instead reveals Jenrette's three areas of expertise: 1. Large breasts. 2. Clothes. 3. How to use large breasts to get clothes.
As the story opens, the board of directors of Tompion International gathers in the Manhattan company headquarters. "The six men around the table," Jenrette writes, "were as different as the letters in the alphabet." One has "the arrogance equal to a Rhode Island rooster." Another has "the flush of good color with good living written all over it." Then there was Roger Evans, "a quiet man who said little."
The head of the company is Adm. Orville Dutton, the crusty former head of the CIA. His right-hand gal is Sidney Howe, a brilliant psychologist whose first husband is still listed as a Vietnam MIA. Dutton is indebted to Sidney after she helped "clear the admiral of charges that he bribed a congressman during the Abscam trial."
Ho ho ho.
Sidney was "a perfect case of a steel fist in a velvet glove . . . She had a mind like a diamond and a determination made of titanium."
Her breasts, of course, are the size of New Jersey.
So are Jennifer Joubert's. Actually, they are "two mounds of ivory ice cream topped with amber rosettes."
Jennifer is the paramour of Constantin Kaluste, a mysterious French financial wizard who "takes whatever he wants and what he cannot take he buys -- or steals." Kaluste has decided to steal Tompion and persuades Jennifer to infiltrate the company. She has been living with him after the death of her race car driver husband, Kaluste's nephew.
"Perhaps he was going to ask her to leave? The thought made her heart palpitate. What she would miss most was all the wonderful clothes she had acquired in the past two years."
Kaluste is a kooky guy, especially in the back of a limo. a company big shot and boyfriend of Sidney's. Before he does, Sidney tells Wallack, "You're single and attractive. You're forty-two years old, you skied for your college team, and you're soon going to be incredibly wealthy."
Sidney, grateful that Peter has filled some of the lonely hours of her widowhood, tells him, "I discovered what it's like to be a whole woman."
Shortly after Jennifer marries Peter, the corporate executive is found dead. It's made to look like a suicide, but Sidney is suspicious.
She's a psychologist, after all, and a whole woman. "She opened the side window and let the wind whip against her face, not caring what it did to her hair."
It's impossible to discern any plot in "Conglomerate." Voices have ice in them, scandals erupt like Vesuvius, ecstasies are uncharted, time stands still, nostrils flare and people are drawn together like magnets. I've seen better writing on the side of a Shredded Wheat box. One of the characters "is a one-man woman searching for a one-woman man," while chopped onions float on the surface of navy bean soup "like a miniature armada."
Sidney becomes entangled with Adm. Dutton's son, Roger, a shell-shocked Vietnam vet who inspects the heroine "as though she were a new Rolls-Royce he wanted to own."
But Sidney is the consummate businesswoman. "Roger was looking at Sidney, but this time she didn't consider it a stare as he caught her eye and nodded slightly. She perked up, certain that her outfit met with his approval. For a few seconds, the distraction wiped out everything else from her mind except how she had planned her outfit for the meeting."
Will Sidney's breasts save Tompion from Kaluste's evil clutches? Will she get to keep her designer wardrobe? Will Rita Jenrette do us all a favor and abandon her writing career?
As Sidney puts it, "If she failed, maybe she'd resign her job and teach or become a suburban housewife in Connecticut."