Page 3 of 8
Use a good pattern and cut on the lines. Otherwise your man will be all screw-jiggy. Preshrink the fabric, or your man will turn out to be smaller than you'd hoped. Sew the darts first, and remember to give that tummy a good tuck, or you'll be sorry later! Watch those zippers. A badly placed zipper can cause serious functional problems. It's fun to be different, but not too different!
Casual or formal is up to you; if in doubt, make two, and alternate. Be sure your house has a lot of mirrors. Men made this way--like budgies--seem to adore them!
One very creative woman we know sewed her entire man out of rubber sheeting. Then she used a bicycle pump. Amazing!
4. MARZIPAN METHOD
We've often thought men would be easier to control if they were smaller. Well, here's a tiny rascal you can hold in the palm of your hand!
Usually found on wedding cakes, these formally dressed minigrooms require painstaking attention to detail, but it's worth the time you spend with the paintbrush and the food coloring to see the finished result smiling at you with deceptive blandness from the frothy topmost layer of Seven-Minute Boiled Icing!
We much regret the modern custom of substituting plastic for the original sugary confection. For one thing, there is absolutely no payoff when you feel the urge--as we do!--to pop one of these dapper devils into your mouth and suck off his clothes.
5. FOLK ART METHOD
You've seen these cuties in other folks' front yards, with little windmills attached to their heads. They hammer with their little hammers, saw with their little saws, or just whirl their arms around a lot when there's a stiff breeze. Alternatively, they may just stand stock-still, holding onto bridles, lanterns, or fishing poles. Some of them may be in gnome costumes.
Why shouldn't you concoct one of these cunning fellows for your very own? No reason at all! Just coat your hubby with plaster of Paris, and
You can come to the end of talking, about women, talking. In restaurants, cafes, kitchens, less frequently in bars or pubs, about relatives, relations, relationships, illnesses, jobs, children, men; about nuance, hunch, intimation, intuition, shadow; about themselves and each other; about what he said to her and she said to her and she said back; about what they feel.
Something more definite, more outward then, some action, to drain the inner swamp, sweep the inner fluff out from under the inner bed, harden the edges. Men at sea, for instance. Not on a submarine, too claustrophobic and smelly, but something more bracing, a tang of salt, cold water, all over your callused body, cuts and bruises, hurricanes, bravery, and above all no women. Women are replaced by water, by wind, by the ocean, shifting and treacherous; a man has to know what to do, to navigate, to sail, to bail, so reach for the how-to book, and out here it's what he said to him, or didn't say, a narrowing of the eyes, sizing the bastard up before the pounce, the knife to the gut, and here comes a wave, hang on to the shrouds, all teeth grit, all muscles bulge together. Or sneaking along the gangway, the passageway, the right of way, the Milky Way, in the dark, your eyes shining like digital wristwatches, and the bushes, barrels, scuppers, ditches, filthy with enemies, and you on the prowl for adrenaline and loot. Corpses of your own making deliquesce behind you as you reach the cave, abandoned city, safe, sliding panel, hole in the ground, and rich beyond your wildest dreams!
What now? Spend it on some woman, in a restaurant. And there I am, back again at the eternal table, which exists so she can put her elbows on it, over a glass of wine, while he says. What does he say? He says the story of how he got here, to her. She says, But what did you feel?
And his eyes roll wildly, quick as a wink he tries to think of something else, a cactus, a porpoise, never give yourself away, while the seductive waves swell the carpet beneath the feet and the wind freshens among the tablecloths. They're all around her, she can see it now, one per woman per table. Men, at sea.
It started in the back yards. At first the men concentrated on heat and smoke, and on dangerous thrusts with long forks. Their wives gave them aprons in railroad stripes, with slogans on the front--HOT STUFF, THE BOSS--to spur them on. Then it began to get all mixed up with who should do the dishes, and you can't fall back on paper plates forever, and around that time the wives got tired of making butterscotch brownies and Jell-o salads with grated carrots and baby marshmallows in them and wanted to make money instead, and one thing led to another. The wives said that there were only twenty-four hours in a day; and the men, who in that century were still priding themselves on their rationality, had to agree that this was so.
For a while they worked it out that the men were in charge of the more masculine kinds of food: roasts, chops, steaks, dead chickens and ducks, gizzards, hearts, anything that had obviously been killed, that had visibly bled. The wives did the other things, the glazed parsnips and the prune whip, anything that flowered or fruited or was soft and gooey in the middle. That was all right for about a decade. Everyone praised the men to keep them going, and the wives, sneaking out of the houses in the mornings with their squeaky new briefcases, clutching their bus tickets because the men needed the station wagons to bring home the carcasses, felt they had got away with something.
But time is not static, and the men refused to stay put. They could not be kept isolated in their individual kitchens, kitchens into which the wives were allowed less and less frequently because, the men said, they did not sharpen the knives properly, if at all. The men began to acquire kitchen machines, which they would spend the weekends taking apart and oiling. There were a few accidents at first, a few lost fingers and ends of noses, but the men soon got the hang of it and branched out into other areas: automatic nutmeg graters, electric gadgets for taking the lids off jars. At cocktail parties they would gather in groups at one end of the room, exchanging private recipes and cooking yarns, tales of souffles daringly saved at the last minute, pears flambees which had gone out of control and had to be fought to a standstill. Some of these stories had risque phrases in them, such as chicken breasts. Indeed, sexual metaphor was changing: bowls and forks became prominent, and eggbeater, pressure cooker, and turkey baster became words which only the most daring young women, the kind who thought it was a kick to butter their own toast, would venture to pronounce in mixed company. Men who could not cook very well hung about the edges of these groups, afraid to say much, admiring the older and more experienced ones, wishing they could be like them.
Soon after that, the men resigned from their jobs in large numbers so they could spend more time in the kitchen. The magazines said it was a modern trend. The wives were all driven off to work, whether they wanted to or not: someone had to make the money, and of course they did not want their husbands' masculinity to be threatened. A man's status in the community was now displayed by the length of his carving knives, by how many of them he had and how sharp he kept them, and by whether they were plain or ornamented with gold and precious jewels.
Exclusive clubs and secret societies sprang up. Men meeting for the first time would now exchange special handshakes--the bechamel twist, the chocolate mousse double grip--to show that they had been initiated. It was pointed out to the women, who by this time did not go into the kitchens at all on pain of being thought unfeminine, that chef after all means chief and that Mixmasters were common but no one had ever heard of a Mixmistress. Psychological articles began to appear in the magazines on the origin of women's kitchen envy and how it could be cured. Amputation of the tip of the tongue was recommended, and, as you know, became a widespread practice in the more advanced nations. If Nature had meant women to cook, it was said, God would have made carving knives round and with holes in them.
This is history. But it is not a history familiar to many people. It exists only in the few archival collections that have not yet been destroyed, and in manuscripts like this one, passed from woman to woman, usually at night, copied out by hand or memorized. It is subversive of me even to write these words. I am doing so
, at the risk of my own personal freedom, because now, after so many centuries of stagnation, there are signs that hope and therefore change have once more become possible.
The women in their pinstripe suits, exiled to the living rooms, where they dutifully sip the glasses of port brought out to them by the men, used to sit uneasily, silently, listening to the loud bursts of male and somehow derisive laughter from behind the closed kitchen doors. But they have begun whispering to each other. When they are with those they trust, they tell of a time long ago, lost in the fogs of legend, hinted at in packets of letters found in attic trunks and in the cryptic frescoes on abandoned temple walls, when women too were allowed to participate in the ritual that now embodies the deepest religious convictions of our society: the transformation of the consecrated flour into the holy bread. At night they dream, long clandestine dreams, confused and obscured by shadows. They dream of plunging their hands into the earth, which is red as blood and soft, which is milky and warm. They dream that the earth gathers itself under their hands, swells, changes its form, flowers into a thousand shapes, for them too, for them once more. They dream of apples; they dream of the creation of the world; they dream of freedom.
John and Mary meet.
What happens next?
If you want a happy ending, try A.
A. John and Mary fall in love and get married. They both have worthwhile and remunerative jobs which they find stimulating and challenging. They buy a charming house. Real estate values go up. Eventually, when they can afford live-in help, they have two children, to whom they are devoted. The children turn out well. John and Mary have a stimulating and challenging sex life and worthwhile friends. They go on fun vacations together. They retire. They both have hobbies which they find stimulating and challenging. Eventually they die. This is the end of the story.
B. Mary falls in love with John but John doesn't fall in love with Mary. He merely uses her body for selfish pleasure and ego gratification of a tepid kind. He comes to her apartment twice a week and she cooks him dinner, you'll notice that he doesn't even consider her worth the price of a dinner out, and after he's eaten the dinner he fucks her and after that he falls asleep, while she does the dishes so he won't think she's untidy, having all those dirty dishes lying around, and puts on fresh lipstick so she'll look good when he wakes up, but when he wakes up he doesn't even notice, he puts on his socks and his shorts and his pants and his shirt and his tie and his shoes, the reverse order from the one in which he took them off. He doesn't take off Mary's clothes, she takes them off herself, she acts as if she's dying for it every time, not because she likes sex exactly, she doesn't, but she wants John to think she does because if they do it often enough surely he'll get used to her, he'll come to depend on her and they will get married, but John goes out the door with hardly so much as a goodnight and three days later he turns up at six o'clock and they do the whole thing over again.
Mary gets run down. Crying is bad for your face, everyone knows that and so does Mary but she can't stop. People at work notice. Her friends tell her John is a rat, a pig, a dog, he isn't good enough for her, but she can't believe it. Inside John, she thinks, is another John, who is much nicer. This other John will emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon, a Jack from a box, a pit from a prune, if the first John is only squeezed enough.
One evening John complains about the food. He has never complained about the food before. Mary is hurt.
Her friends tell her they've seen him in a restaurant with another woman, whose name is Madge. It's not even Madge that finally gets to Mary; it's the restaurant. John has never taken Mary to a restaurant. Mary collects all the sleeping pills and aspirins she can find, and takes them and half a bottle of sherry. You can see what kind of a woman she is by the fact that it's not even whiskey. She leaves a note for John. She hopes he'll discover her and get her to the hospital in time and repent and then they can get married, but this fails to happen and she dies.
John marries Madge and everything continues as in A.
C. John, who is an older man, falls in love with Mary, and Mary, who is only twenty-two, feels sorry for him because he's worried about his hair falling out. She sleeps with him even though she's not in love with him. She met him at work. She's in love with someone called James, who is twenty-two also and not yet ready to settle down.
John on the contrary settled down long ago: this is what is bothering him. John has a steady respectable job and is getting ahead in his field, but Mary isn't impressed by him, she's impressed by James, who has a motorcycle and a fabulous record collection. But James is often away on his motorcycle, being free. Freedom isn't the same for girls, so in the meantime Mary spends Thursday evenings with John. Thursdays are the only days John can get away.
John is married to a woman called Madge and they have two children, a charming house which they bought just before the real estate values went up, and hobbies which they find stimulating and challenging, when they have the time. John tells Mary how important she is to him, but of course he can't leave his wife because a commitment is a commitment. He goes on about this more than is necessary and Mary finds it boring, but older men can keep it up longer so on the whole she has a fairly good time.
One day James breezes in on his motorcycle with some top-grade California hybrid and James and Mary get higher than you'd believe possible and they climb into bed. Everything becomes very underwater, but along comes John, who has a key to Mary's apartment. He finds them stoned and entwined. He's hardly in any position to be jealous, considering Madge, but nevertheless he's overcome with despair. Finally he's middle-aged, in two years he'll be bald as an egg, and he can't stand it. He purchases a handgun, saying he needs it for target practice--this is the thin part of the plot, but it can be dealt with later--and shoots the two of them and himself.
Madge, after a suitable period of mourning, marries an understanding man called Fred and everything continues as in A, but under different names.
D. Fred and Madge have no problems. They get along exceptionally well and are good at working out any little difficulties that may arise. But their charming house is by the seashore and one day a giant tidal wave approaches. Real estate values go down. The rest of the story is about what caused the tidal wave and how they escape from it. They do, though thousands drown. Some of the story is about how the thousands drown, but Fred and Madge are virtuous and lucky. Finally on high ground they clasp each other, wet and dripping and grateful, and continue as in A.
E. Yes, but Fred has a bad heart. The rest of the story is about how kind and understanding they both are until Fred dies. Then Madge devotes herself to charity work until the end of A. If you like, it can be "Madge," "cancer," "guilty and confused," and "bird watching."
F. If you think this is all too bourgeois, make John a revolutionary and Mary a counterespionage agent and see how far that gets you. Remember, this is Canada. You'll still end up with A, though in between you may get a lustful brawling saga of passionate involvement, a chronicle of our times, sort of.
You'll have to face it, the endings are the same however you slice it. Don't be deluded by any other endings, they're all fake, either deliberately fake, with malicious intent to deceive, or just motivated by excessive optimism if not by downright sentimentality.
The only authentic ending is the one provided here:
John and Mary die. John and Mary die. John and Mary die.
So much for endings. Beginnings are always more fun. True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it's the hardest to do anything with.
That's about all that can be said for plots, which anyway are just one thing after another, a what and a what and a what.
Now try How and Why.
--the airheads, the bubblebrains, the ditzy blondes: the headstrong teenagers too dumb to listen t
o their mothers: all those with mattress stuffing between their ears, all the lush hostesses who tell us to have a good day and give us the wrong change while checking their Big Hair in the mirror, all those who dry their freshly shampooed poodles in the microwave, and those whose boyfriends tell them chlorophyll chewing gum is a contraceptive, and who believe it; all those with nervously bitten fingernails because they don't know whether to pee or get off the pot, all those who don't know how to spell the word pee, all those who laugh good-naturedly at stupid jokes like this one, even though they don't get the point.
They don't live in the real world, we tell ourselves fondly: but what kind of criticism is that?
If they can manage not to live in it, good for them. We would rather not live in it either, ourselves.
And in fact they don't live in it, because such women are fictions: composed by others, but just as frequently by themselves, though even stupid women are not so stupid as they pretend: they pretend for love.
Men love them because they make even stupid men feel smart: women for the same reason, and because they are reminded of all the stupid things they have done themselves, but mostly because without them there would be no stories.
No stories! No stories! Imagine a world without stories!
But that's exactly what you would have, if all the women were wise.
The Wise Virgins keep their lamps trimmed and filled with oil, and the bridegroom arrives, in the proper way, knocking at the front door, in time for his dinner; no fuss, no muss, and also no story at all. What can be told about the Wise Virgins, such bloodless paragons?
They bite their tongues, they watch their smart mouths, they sew their own clothing, they achieve professional recognition, they do every right thing without effort.