Onassis had always been a piratical figure. With a fleet of ships, an airline and the Greek junta at his disposal, he swaggered through international society with the confidence of a moneyed buccaneer. Though he was respected as a shrewd businessman, his lusty demeanor excited mixed reactions in the milieu of the New England gentry in which his new wife had been raised, wherein lay a massive part of his appeal.
While his craggy visage and constant state of dis habille (a potpourri of ill-fitting suits lent him the appearance of a badly dressed waiter) did nothing to endear him to the matrons of Boston and Newport, but the women of the Jet-Set found the Greek charismatic, cosmopolitan, and sensual– a tantalizing antidote to the Choate alums of their debutante youths. His raunchy banter provided a welcome relief from staid country club chat and so the queens of the jet-set indulged Onassis’ Mediterranean machismo and bawdy jokes and reaped the benefits of his admiration. As he circumnavigated the globe tending to business affairs, Onassis lavished gifts indiscriminately and left in his wake a bevy of ladies bedecked in multi-million dollar treasures.
For Jacqueline, Onassis held mythic appeal. He spoke of Odysseus and took her to
. He invited her aboard his boat and bought her jewels. She’d spent fifteen years cast as the outsider in a clan of boisterous yet emotionally stunted New Englanders. Onassis represented a daring alternative. He was earthy and Mediterranean and seemed to overflow with life. And, above all else, he wanted her. Ithaca
From within the warm embrace of the wealth and the security the marriage afforded, a whole world of seemingly endless adventure opened up. As the Onassises floated aimlessly aboard the Christina and shuttled between their Greek, American, and Parisian residences, anything was possible. Every dream could come true.