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Counting The Books

Sweetpea said: “Why do we always fight?”
I replied: “It might have something to do with your unwillingness to say you're sorry. Or to even imagine that what you do might be hurtful to others. To me.”
“Okay I'm sorry for all the times I made you mad. What do you think of that?”
“Am I really talking to Vittoria?”
“And I love you. So there. Do what you want with it.”
“What brought that on?”
“I'm feeling emotional today.”
“Not to nitpick, but you could have done without that last sentence, ‘Do what you want with it.’”
“It's kind of like taking back the loving comment.”
“I have that edge to me. I don't know why I do it. Really I don’t.”
“I know why.”
“Because intimacy terrifies you. So does commitment. And obligations.”
“In other words I need to grow up.”
“But, hey, I am grown up.”
“Physically, oh yes. Emotionally, no way.”
“If you think it's a bad thing then why are people attracted to me? They tell me to never change.”
“Sweetpea, you attract all those men because you come across as guileless and child-like, which makes them want to take care of you. Is that appropriate behavior for a grown woman?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“But you were attracted to me for the same reason. Plus I don't know how to be anything else but me.”
“Well, then stay exactly as you are.”
“You know what I think?”
“No, I don't know what you think.”
“Maybe I need to be on my own with no men or friends just so I can find out who the hell I am.”
“Ah, yes. Exactly! Disappear for about six months. All by yourself this time.”
“No, I didn’t mean that.”
“It’ll be just perfect.”
“I’ll get my own place and…”
“The more I think about it, the more I like it. We won't communicate for the next six months. No, make it a year. Two years.”
“You asked me to grow up. But wait. This is who I am. I can't be anyone or anything else. This is all I know.”
“Listen. People change all the time. They somehow find a way of quitting behavior that brings them bad consequences. You won’t change who you are if you stop running away with your so-called ‘friends.’”
“There are other examples.”
“We’ll see.”
“But you’ll change only if you want to. Otherwise you’ll continue your old ways. And risk losing things that are important to you.”
“All I can say is I will try.”
“Find a way to want to.”
“I said I’ll try, okay?”

* * *

“I have never given you peace.”
“Yes, I've noticed.”
“But that's why you love me. Because I drive you nutz.”
“I don't love you for the hurtful stuff you do. I love you in spite of it.”
“Very interesting point of view. You love me for who I am, nutz and all.”

* * *

“Do you remember our first time?”
“Of course I do.”
“What does that mean?”
“That’s how many books were on the shelf by the bed.”
“Ha! And here I thought I was making you delerious with pleasure.”
“But you were. I told you that.”
“Not if you’re counting books.”
“I’ve always been able to be in two places at one time. I said to myself, so this is what it’s supposed to be like. Do you remember? It was the very first time I had an…well, you know.”
“Yes. It was hard to believe. I always thought Italians were great lovers.”
“I didn’t know I could have those kinds of feelings inside me.”
“Well, it wasn’t entirely Giancarlo’s fault, you know.”
“Being in love has a lot to do with it.”
"I suppose."
“That’s the big difference between women and men.”
“Men can get off with a ham sandwich. Women, well, that’s a different story.”
“Guess what I liked a lot?”
“When you gently touched me on my thighs.”
“Hey! We’re not supposed to be talking about this stuff right now. The rule is, we talk romance only when we are face-to-face.”
“I know. But guess what else I liked.”

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(Deleted comment)
Yes, of course. There's a saying among prosecutors: "Getting an indictment is no problem. You can indict a ham sandwich."

(Deleted comment)
You should add liver to the list. Remember Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint?"

(Deleted comment)
OK, the more I think about it, the less I like the ham sandwich reference. So out it goes!

(Deleted comment)
Thanks, yes, she's beautiful.

All right, so I'll put the ham sandwich back in.

No longer under a heavy rock, that's good. But it is unfair to imply that women can't have purely physical meaningless fun. We just get called bad names, especially by men who think catting around is their own domain. And yes, the previous picture is quite nice. Thank you so much for the taste.

Thanks for your comments. Please be more specific as to where it's implied that women can't have meaningless fun. James objects to Vittoria's running away and hiding, not catting around. He'd be the last to call women bad names...please elaborate!

“That’s the big difference between women and men.”
“Men can get off with a ham sandwich. Women, well, that’s a different story.”
“Guess what I liked a lot?”
“When you gently touched me on my thighs.”

My point was simply that it seems implied here that women somehow have to have feelings in order to have orgasm, or that they aren't as good without those feelings.

J does seemed tweaked that V went off for a legendary 40 days. But it is not the issue at all, and I don't think you are calling anyone names. Really. But women do not get the same freedom of movement that men do. A man who enjoys the company of many women is a playboy and admired. A woman who enjoys the company of many men is a whore. (and you have not, I repeat NOT, perpetuated the stereotype here, it is just a winge.)

I just am of the opinion and experience that feelings don't make the orgasm, but the trigger can. J found one of V's. She is a lucky girl and dosen't appear to know it.

Sorry to have alarmed you, really.


When I studied linguistics in college our professor made an announcement on the first day of class to the effect that sexism is embedded in the language, largely because the language mirrors culture.

He said our task as writers and readers and thinkers is to try to eliminate sexism in language whenever we encounter it, with the hope that doing so might lead to its eventual reduction in the culture.

"Therefore," the good professor said, "I wish you all to raise your hand whenever you hear ME employ a sexist construction." And he meant it.

It's in that spirit of genuinely desiring to be alerted to sexist issues that I asked you to elaborate on the meaningless fun thing.

Now, it can be said that in the narrative James leans toward the somewhat stereotypical sexist belief that women need to be in love in order to experience orgasm. In this instance, though, I hope I've succeeded in providing a bit of an additional nuance, in that James uses the notion as an explanation for why Vittoria's husband never fully satisfied her.

In other words, James chooses not to condemn Vittoria's husband for being selfish or thoughtless in the sex department, rather he offers an explanation that leaves both blameless. I meant it to echo that passage in Paul's letter to the Corinthians...to the effect that love is patient, love is kind, etc., etc.

But you're absolutely right about how women are unfairly condemned for behavior that brings men admiration and praise.

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