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 What Makes Us Tick?

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Posts : 12515
Join date : 2013-01-16
Age : 64
Location : Seattle

PostSubject: What Makes Us Tick?   Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:28 am

It was a hot and fetid night in downtown Manhattan. Rita and I sat drinking in the humid darkness of the Lion’s Head, a bar known for its hard-bitten reporters, colorful literary failures and drunken Irishmen. Cleo was late, so we waited and watched a woman in an appalling turquoise dress sashay through the bar.
“Don’t you wish,” I said to Rita, “that you could just pull certain people to one side and say, ‘Can we discuss your outfit for a moment, please? I think you should reconsider’?”
“Absolutely,” she said. “The woman is an eyesore. I see her in putty-colored cotton jersey, just a little blusher and her hair back to its natural color.”
“Yo,” said Cleo, finally arriving, “what’s up? Dissecting that turquoise number with the clown make-up? I see her in pale-peach linen.”
“Listen,” I said, “I’ve got a column to write. I need help.”
“When don’t you, you lazy slut?” said Cleo. “Why should we help you tell men our innermost thoughts, you anti-feminist turncoat?”
“Don’t be silly,” I said. “Men and women aren’t enemies anymore; we’ve reached a new arena in the women’s movement. We need to understand each other, be generous with each other. . . .” “Excuse me, ladies,” said a dapper man in a Burberry who appeared at our table, “may my friends and I join you?” “Get lost, creep,” I said. “Anyway, if men knew what makes us tick; if they understood our little foibles. . . .”
“Foibles?” said Rita. “Excuse me, but ‘foibles’? What foibles are those?”
“OK, maybe not foibles,” I said hastily, “but you know the things they complain about—we’re always late; we can never make up our minds; we never care about baseball standings; we get jealous all the time; we hate for them to go out drinking; all we care about are dresses and children; we refuse to have major political discussions; we hate giving head—you know.”
“Let’s not talk about giving head,” said Cleo, “let’s talk about dresses. I love talking about dresses.”
“Here’s what I think about dresses,” said Rita. “Write this down: The study of clothes should be right up there with the study of nuclear physics, or possibly higher. The placement of a hemline, the tuck in a bodice, the thickness of a fabric—all these things are riddled with meaning so deep and far-reaching, the findings would rock mankind if only someone would pay attention.”
“That’s what men think about the knuckle ball,” said Cleo, “only we don’t get it. But we can look at a woman in a
turquoise dress and figure where she bought it, why she bought it, what her house looks like, what books she reads, how often she has sex.”
“She got it at Bolton’s on Eighth Street,” said Rita. “She bought it because she thought the shoulder pads would minimize her hips; she lives in Park Slope and her kitchen is done in paisley Con-Tact; she considers Fear of Flying a work of art; and she has sex twice a month with someone whose name is either Norman or Josh.”
“No way,” said Cleo. “His name is Louis; it’s gotta be.”
“The point is,” said Rita, “clothes are as much of a science as sports. But do men bring us popcorn and beer while we shop?” “Actually, I like giving head,” said Cleo out of nowhere.
“Let’s not talk about giving head,” I said. “Let’s talk about jealousy.”
“My last boyfriend,” said Rita, “told me our relationship was ruined by an insistent subterranean hum of neurotic jealousy that emanated from my brain. And he was right. I am a person who steams open letters. I read diaries. I go through drawers. I listen secretly to answering-machine tapes.”
“This is not uncommon,” I said.
“No, it isn’t,” piped our waitress, bringing us a fresh round of margaritas. “I once hired a private detective to follow my husband around.”
“Why?” we asked.
“Well, once he told me something,” she said as she sat down and lit a cigarette. “Oh, by the way, these drinks are on that fellow over there in the Burberry, the one talking to that girl in the turquoise dress. Someone should talk to her—shoulder pads aren’t everything.
“Anyway, once my husband said to me, ‘Jenny, every man in the world wants to fuck every woman he can, and the only reason he doesn’t is that his girlfriend or wife would eat him for breakfast.’ I’ve never been the same.”
“I think he was right,” I said. “Men do have an overwhelming lust for conquering.” “It’s built into them biologically,” decided Cleo.
“So we get jealous,” said Rita. “Who can blame us? We want to nest; they want to forage.”
“I don’t want to nest,” I said.
“Yes, you do, hon,” said the waitress.
“I wasn’t aware that we’d met,” I said coolly.
“No need to get huffy, hon,” she said. “I see you in here with your boyfriend. Another girl looks at him, you look back daggers. Rightly so, too. He’s a hunk. Whoops! Well, I’d better get back to my tables.”
“I’ll break her kneecaps,” I said when she’d left.
“Permit me to interrupt,” said the man in the Burberry, a bad penny. “Being an ex-reporter, I am a skilled eavesdropper, and I want to say that you’re wrong. Men may like to fuck around, but their jealousy, when aroused, is awesome. Actually, women have only one major flaw. They are manipulative and greedy.”
General uproar.
“Hear me out,” said the toad. “I’m a rich guy. A screenwriter. Every woman I go out with expects cocaine. Half of them angle for a car; the other half want a fur coat. I like to hang out at this dive, but if I don’t take them to The Russian Tea Room, they whimper. You women demand to be treated as equals, yet at the same time, you need to be taken care of. I am furious.”* “Well, I’m not like that,” I said.
“Me, neither,” said Rita.
“You’re the one who has been plying us with drink,” said Cleo.
“Hey, Fred!” someone called.
“Excuse me,” said our new friend. “I’ll be right back.”
We looked after him. “How rich do you think he is?” I asked.
“Do you think he has any cocaine on him at the moment?” wondered Cleo.
“Jesus, do you think he’s right?” asked Rita.
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