Tag Archives: Relationships

On Love

“…Thereafter, the computer so juggled things that it placed Chloe over the wind of the aircraft in seat 15A and I next to her in seat 15B. What we had ignored when we began speaking over the safety instruction card was the minuscule probablity that our discussion had been reliant upon. As neither of us were likely to fly Club Class, and as there were 191 economy-class seats and Chloe had been assigned seat 15A and I, quite by chance, had been assigned seat 15B, the theoretical probability that Chloe and I would be seated next to one another (though the chances of our actually talking to one another could not be calculated) worked itself out as 220 in 36,290, a figure reducible to a probability of 1 in 164.955.” (pgs. 8 & 9)

-On lovers’ predilection toward attributing their meeting to destiny. “Because you are perfect for me and I am perfect for you, we were born for one another and the entire journey of each of our lives was undertaken for the sole purpose of coming to this one place at this time to meet you, my love.”


“Chloe and I would never have been as brutal to our friends as we were to one another. But we equated intimacy with a form of ownership and license. We may have been kind, but we were no longer polite.” (pg.62)


“When I told Chloe my idea that people’s personalities in relationships were a bit like amoebas, she laughed and told me she’d loved drawing amoebas at school… “I’ll draw you the difference between what shape my amoeba-self has at the office and what shape it has with you, ” [she said.]…

“What are all the wiggly bits?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s because I feel wiggly around you.”


“Well, you know, you give me space. I feel more complicated than in the office. You’re interested in me and you understand me better, so that’s why I made it wiggly, so that it’s sort of natural.”

“OK, I see, so what’s this straight side?”

“… Well, you don’t understand everything about me, do you? So I thought I’d better make it more realistic…” (pgs. 106 & 107)


“Dr. Saavedra had diagnosed [Chloe with] a case of anhedonia, a disease defined by the British Medical Association as a reaction remarkably close to mountain sickness resulting from the sudden terror brought on by the threat of happiness.” (italics mine, pg. 123)


Never has an analytical book, which dares use political terminology more often than you think possible, captured realistic love in such a, well, realistic way. Part fiction, part series of essays, de Botton’s debut, published when he was 23 (23!) is perhaps one of the greatest works ever written on the subject of romantic love, because here the lover, as mad as he is, manages sobriety long enough to give us a first person account but also somehow makes it as objective as one can dare hope for — and so interesting! He deftly and articulately explores depths the rest of us only know instinctively, emotionally and wordlessly. Thus, we recognize on these pages our own ways of falling in and out of love, our own ways of masking something terrible, of faking this or that, of giving in completely and of flailing about, having lost our identity, of being too happy for words and inexplicably, uncontrollably sad; we recognize ourselves in Chloe, who stops buying the narrator’s favorite cereal all of a sudden, while continuing to call him by his nickname. We recognize ourselves in Chloe when she, again all of a sudden, buys it one last morning, and that’s how we know she doesn’t love him anymore. Have I given too much away? No. You must read this book.

Here are some of the chapter headings:


Speaking Love

False Notes

Love or Liberalism




The Jesus Complex


I so want you to read this book, I’d give you all a copy if I could. Because I can’t,  if you call in today and order it from us, just mention this saccharine post and we’ll discount the price 30%. If you order today, you’ll have the book on Friday and be preparing to read it a second time Saturday morning. Consider it our Valentine to you.


After today, I promise to never talk about love. Ever again.

But read the book.

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When a Woman Loves a Man

by David Lehman

When she says Margarita she means Daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, “I’ll never speak to you again,”
she means, “Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window.”

He’s supposed to know that.

When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

When a woman loves a man it is one-ten in the morning,
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
drinking lemonade
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.

When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, “We’re talking about me now,”
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
“Did somebody die?”

When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water ruching over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.

Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?

When he says, “Ours is a transitional era.”
“That’s very original of you,” she replies,
dry as the Martini he is sipping.

They fight all the time
It’s fun
What do I owe you?
Let’s start with an apology
Ok, I’m sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying “Laughter.”
It’s a silent picture.
“I’ve been fucked without a kiss,” she says,
“and you can quote me on that,”
which sounds great in an English accent.

One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
another nine times.

When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he’s there. He doesn’t complain that
she’s two hours late
and there’s nothing in the refrigerator.

When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She’s like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn’t want the day to end.

When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.

from Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art


Filed under Poetry

My Manicure is Worth More Than Your Charisma

An acquaintance recently complained that she had been called a gold digger on more than one occasion.  We were sitting with a small group of women and the conversation, regarding dating and this issue of women expecting the man to always pay, immediately became animated.

It used to be so simple, back in the dark ages when I was dating — the guys invited and paid, the gals waited by the phone and allowed a kiss goodnight (sometimes).  When the sixties dawned, free love flowed, the pill was invented and things became topsy turvey.  By the late seventies/early eighties I would listen to male and female friends discuss the pitfalls of dating and the protocols no one seemed sure of anymore; there was general confusion.  The males didn’t know when to open a door or if they should, when to use the “manners” that their mothers had beaten into their heads or refrain because often the strident young women would become insulted.  I didn’t really believe this until I saw for myself a young woman berating a man for holding a door for her to pass through.  You’d have thought he was holding the door to usher her to her execution the way she carried on.

Fast forward to today. When these women began talking about the gold digger remark I offered what I believe is a perfect solution to the dating dilemma.  I call it Dating Fair.

First of all, everyone is free to call anyone else for a date, anytime.  No game playing.  You meet someone you’d like to know better and you can call them without the women being thought of as “desperate” or pushy or forward.  Then the cost of the date is split evenly. We all go out enough to know how to do this smoothly without a lot of confusion.  At the end of the date no one feels beholden and no one has to feel that since I paid I need to “collect” a reward of some sort. When women go out with their women friends they only go to enjoy the other person’s company, they each pay their share, or take turns treating one another.  It should work the same way in a male/female outing.  If you’re not willing to pay your part to be with this person then don’t agree to go out. Tah Dah!  I thought I had a brilliant solution…  only to hear my friends squall in outrage.

“No, no, no!  It’s a terrible idea!” “Why?”  I asked.  The main reason the “gold digger” came up with was that she spent a lot of money every month on maintaining her looks and she felt it was done for the pleasure of the men she dated so it was only fair that they pay for the dinners, movies, theatre, week-ends away etc.  My mani/pedicures, hair cut and color, gym membership, tanning salon, etc., all cost me each month.  My maintainance is expensive!
I was shocked.  But, but… I was at a loss for a comeback to this irrational thought process.  Finally I said, “Wouldn’t you like the freedom to just pick up the phone and make a date with a guy?”  The answer, unanimous among these women, was, “No, I want the guy to call me and pay for the date, always!”  “Well,” I persevered, “do you feel obliged to ‘pay him back in some way’ when the date is over, or when you’ve had several dates?”
“No, not really.  If I like him then I might have him over for dinner one night, otherwise, no. I feel he gets his money’s worth just having my company.”  Again, my mouth dropped open.  Wow!  It’s just like the 1950s but with more self involvement.

If you want a funny and well-written novel on this very subject of “gold diggers”,  I highly recommend A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka, which has the best gold digger in recent fiction and wasnominated for the Man Booker Prize. And if women stay true to the “I’ll wait for him to phone” routine, I refer them to the incredible short story by Dorothy Parker,  “A Telephone Call”, which can be found in The Portable Dorothy Parker.

Obviously, this is only a morsel of the larger discussion. It’s only one of the symptoms of how social interaction has developed… perhaps we’ll go there another day.




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