Who knows what goes on in their heads? said Jocasta. They were well into the second carafe of wine. Not me, I’ve stopped even trying. It used to be women that were so mysterious, remember? Well, not any more, now it’s men. Me, I’m an open book. All I want is a good enough time, no hassle, a few laughs, a little how-you-say romance, I’ll take the violins if they’re going around, dim lights, roses, fantastic sex, let them scrape the pate off the rug in the morning, is that too much to ask? Are they afraid of my first name or something, is that it? Remember when we all batted our eyes and pretended not to know what dirty jokes meant and crossed our legs a lot and they chased around like pigs after a truffle and God did they complain. Frigid, cock teaser, professional virgin, remember those? Remember panty girdles, remember falsies, remember Peter Pan brassieres, in the front seat after the formal, with your wires digging into his chest?
Rennie didn’t remember these things too well. But she didn’t say so, she didn’t want to remind Jocasta about her age.There’s probably men still around who don’t think a woman’s a woman unless she feels like a car grille or the insides of a toaster, said Jocasta. Not the back seat though, God forbid the word should get around you were an easy out.
Well, so two months ago this man, a nice enough man, nice shoulders, said why didn’t we go out for dinner. I’ve known him a while, I like him okay, he’s fine, nothing wrong with him, not ultra bright but not a nylon stocking murderer either, and I’ve always felt I wouldn’t mind, you know. If the occasion should arise. Well, it looked as if it was arising, pardon the pun, so I tarted myself up, nothing too obvious, I just bought this fabulous black knitted sheath for the store, remember bat wings?
So out we go, he was paying it seems, though I did offer, it’s a new place over on Church, not too many of those damn asparagus ferns shedding down your back, I had the quails, which was a mistake, gnawing those tiny bones and trying to look soignee. But everything was going fine, a lot of eye contact, we talked about his career, he’s into real estate, doing up downtown houses. All he has to do is beat off the Marxists, the ones that rent rather than owning. The ones that own don’t care, it jacks up their property values.
So I admire him some and he asks me back to his place, and we sit on the broadloom drinking white wine, and he puts on a record, Bartok, which I thought was a little heavy for the occasion but never mind, and he wants to talk about himself some more. Okay, I don’t mind listening, but all this time he doesn’t touch me. What’s the matter, you think I have vaginal warts, I want to ask him, but I’m doing some serious listening, it’s all about his two business partners and how they can’t express anger. I personally think it’s just dandy when people can’t express anger, there’s enough of it in the world already.
So nothing happens and finally I say, I’m really tired, this certainly has been nice but I’ve got to get home, and he says. Why don’t you stay the night? Funny you should ask, I think, though I don’t say it, so we go into the bedroom and I swear to God he turns around so his back is to me and he takes off all his clothes. I can’t believe it, I stand there with my mouth open, and before you know it he’s all tucked into his side of the bed, he was practically wearing striped flannelet pyjamas. He asks if I want the light on or off, and by this time I’m so freaked I say Off, so he turns it off and there I am, taking my clothes off all by myself in the dark. If I was smart I’d have left them on and headed fast for the Down elevator, but you know me. Little Mary Sunshine, ever hopeful, so I climb into the bed, expecting to be embraced passionately, maybe he’s just afraid of the light, but he says Good night and turns over and goes to sleep!
Talk about feeling like an asshole. Now if a girl did that, what would she be called? There I was, horny as hell from looking at his shoulders for about five hours, and he’s sleeping away like a baby. So I got up and spent the night on his sofa.
In the morning he waltzes in, all bright and shiny in his brown velour dressing gown with the monogram on the pocket, with two glasses of fresh orange juice, and he says, Where did you go last night? When I woke up this morning you weren’t there.
He hadn’t even noticed, he hadn’t noticed all night that I was gone.
I’m sorry, I said, but I think we have a semantic problem. A problem in communications, or maybe it’s linguistics. What does spending the night usually mean to you? I mean, I’m not knocking the orange juice but I don’t have to spend the night on the sofa to get it, I can squeeze it myself, you know what I mean?
Well, it turns out he’s having an identity crisis, boy, am I sick of those. Before this he’s only made it with younger, dumber chicks, women who’re easy to impress, he says, and he’s never tried it with someone like me, notice he meant old and wise, like an owl maybe. If you have to be a bird, which would you rather be, a chick or an owl? He’s not sure someone like me would think he has anything to offer besides sex, and he wants to be valued for himself, whatever that is. Chinese! He wants a long-term meaningful relationship. I can tell he was a bedwetter as a child. Maybe still is for all I know.
I’m sitting there with my hair not brushed and I really have to pee, but I don’t want to interrupt him because he obviously finds this important, and I’m thinking, I’ve heard this before, only it used to be women saying it to men. I can’t believe it! And I’m thinking, do I want a long-term meaningful relationship with this guy? And then I’m thinking, does he have anything to offer besides sex?
Well, the answer was No. But that didn’t used to matter, did it? How come it matters all of a sudden? Why do we have to start respecting their minds? Who keeps changing the rules, them or us? You know how many times that’s happened to me since then? Three more times! It’s an epidemic! What do they want?
My theory is that when sex was such a big deal, above the waist, below the waist, with stages of achievement marked on it like the United Appeal thermometer, they wanted it that way because you could measure it, you could win, scoring, you know? Our team against their team. Getting away with it. One in the teeth for Mummy. So we said, you want it, fine, we want it too, let’s get together, and all of a sudden millions of pricks went limp. Nationwide! That’s my theory. The new scoring is not scoring. Just so long as you keep control. They don’t want love and understanding and meaningful relationships, they still want sex, but only if they can take it. Only if you’ve got something to lose, only if you struggle a little. It helps if you’re eight years old, one way or another. You follow me?