Mauro of Manhattan
“Tonight I’m gonna cook you dinner.”
Upper East Side women are able to turn into a memorable event what for Italian women is just boring routine. Marsha is going to feed me.
It’s a rare treat she offers me about twice a month. Usually, our home dinners are independent. We open the fridge whenever we come back from work, at different hours. The maximum I cook is pasta (just for myself, she’s no-carb). The maximum she does is buying something at the deli (just for herself, I’m no-organic).
She has prepared me a huge hot dog.
“I know it’s your favorite, I saw you going downstairs from Rizzoli for lunch, getting one at 56th and Sixth. You like both ketchup and mustard, right?”
She sounds so proud and sweet. I love her. She brings me the plate with the hot dog on the couch in front of the TV, smiling. I give one bite. Revolting. Nevertheless I swallow silently and eat it all: I don’t want to disappoint her. She spent a considerable time in the kitchen, I’m sure she tried hard and did her best. Besides, she would get offended, and her sulks are neverending. I don’t want to ruin the night. She once cooked me spinach with Philadelphia cheese. But she mixed them, creating a disgusting cream. I told her I didn’t like it: “Next time, let’s have them together, but separately.” She kept silent until the next day.
“How did you like it?” she asks hopefully.
“Terrific. Yummy yummy. Come here, let’s watch the movie. I’ll massage your feet.”
At the end of the TV movie I get up, go to the kitchen and, careful not to be seen, open the fridge. There are two remaining hot dogs, with a big “Meatless” written on them. Ah. I check the ingredients: tofu, soy, the things she likes. Anything but the real thing: milkless milk, flourless bread, sugarless sugar ….
Marsha doesn’t cook: She heats up in the microwave. She buys everything prepared, paying 300-400 percent more. Little transparent plastic boxes with salad, mostly. I read that Manhattan supermarkets make most of their profits from this: They would have to close down if they were to sell only basic food such as vegetables, milk, bread.
Actually, Marsha loves to eat directly at the supermarket. She must have been tens of times at Whole Foods in the Time Warner towers since they opened, and her other favorite is the second floor at Fairway.
“Doesn’t it bother you to eat all alone?” I asked her.
“Not at all.”
“But it’s so sad. If you eat alone you die alone, we say in Italy.”
“It’s so relaxing, Mauro.”
I hate it when she relaxes in ways different than making love to me. Relax should occur in bed. I’m jealous of all her other ways to get it: jogging, nails, shopping, yoga, talking to her mom and friends on the phone. I can accept only massage, provided it’s me doing it to her.
The maximum of alienation, to my stupid Italian eyes, is reached by Marsha when she buys coffee on the go, sipping it through a straw in the subway or walking on the street.
“Let’s sit down at home before leaving in the morning, that’s a good way to relax. I’ll make us one,” I proposed.
“Sorry hon, I’m in a hurry.”
“What’s so urgent? Take it easy.”
“I got stuff to be done.”
“Let’s go and sit at a table at Starbucks, then.”
“I got things to be taken care of. Sorry for being so antsy, dear. It’s not your fault. I adore you.”
Marsha appears to be constantly overwhelmed, even when she doesn’t have appointments to go to nor deadlines to meet. But that’s also her charm to my eyes: the busy, powerful and businesslike New York woman.
So, after discovering her humongous meatless hot dogs in the fridge, I go back to the sitting room and kiss her on her forehead. I am sincerely grateful for her good will and the lovely bimonthly dinner. Luckily she doesn’t notice it’s such a patronizing gesture. If she knew the truth, she would spit in one eye of mine. Exactly as, if I were sincere and didn’t love her, I would have spit out her fake hot dog.
The Intrastate Guggenheim
The Pétrouchka Fund offers small grants for scholars and artists to travel within their state. “The Guggenheim Foundation dispenses $25,000 for a painter to spend nine months in East Africa. We’ll give $120 for a biographer to travel to Alfred, N.Y.,” explains Marion Kendall, executive secretary of the fund. The recipient must voyage at least 20 miles from his or her home, but stay within the state.
“We find that poets are often more provoked by a visit to, say, Tressman, Ind., than by half a year in Albania,” Ms. Kendall explains.
The foundation is named after Stravinsky’s ballet Pétrouchka, which he wrote after a week in Staryi Dobrotvir, a village in the Ukraine, in 1911. A group of wealthy farmers fund the program, to encourage the rediscovery of rural life.
George and Hilly
(When last we left George and Hilly, the delightful couple we’ve been following for months, they were consulting with Dr. Selman on the effects of wine and cats and financial hardship on the purity of love. As we join them today in their therapist’s office, they are in much the same position, but slightly worse for wear. Try and imagine them now, she an attractive, vivacious white-collar New Yorker, young and lovely, he …. Well, just try and imagine them. Wait! We seem to hear their voices!)
DR. SELMAN (cracking open a soda pop): So what’s the latest?
GEORGE: Well, we’re broke. We haven’t paid rent this month. Not sure we’ll be able to.
HILLY (with sweet determination): We will. We have time.
GEORGE: But sometimes I kind of like being broke–there’s a certain freedom about it, brings me back to college. I remember walking down to the convenience store with 300 pennies, getting some mac and cheese, and the time the Captain and I stopped by my former fraternity during Christmas break and left with about 20 pounds of hamburger meat and three weeks of bacon. Went through pledgeship twice, but they still kicked me out ….
DR. SELMAN (like Franklin Pangborn enduring W.C. Fields telling old gambling stories): Why are you broke?
GEORGE: Well, I think we’re not very responsible. But I think I’m going to get a windfall pretty soon–like a lot, enough to tide me over, get me through the summer at least–as well as a raise.
[ Editor’s note: Hah!]
GEORGE: Do you mind? But like I was saying, it’s nice to go through these periods where you’re desperate, because then when you get money you really appreciate it more. I kind of like that, as opposed to always being on top of your finances all the time like some nerd.
DR. SELMAN: But how long have you lived in your apartment?
GEORGE: Four years.
DR. SELMAN: Has this happened before?
HILLY: I think in the past, when you had trouble paying, a family member would help you out a little bit, but now that I’m there, there’s really no excuse for two grown people not to be able to pay their rent.
[Editor’s Note: This is a brave and sensible woman. What’s she doing in this room?]
GEORGE: Yeah. Other than that, everything’s working out great. I’ve turned over a new leaf. Been staying in a lot more. Wouldn’t you agree?
HILLY: Yeah. But it’s weird–last Wednesday night you had your last spinout, and then ever since then he’s been little Mr. Do Good.
DR. SELMAN: Spinout?
GEORGE: Well, what happened was—
[Editor’s note: Hold on to your hats!]
GEORGE: I’d kind of like to breeze over this–but the night after our last therapy session, I couldn’t go to sleep. I couldn’t breathe in my room–dust, dust mites, cat dander, pollen, cigarettes–and I kind of had a meltdown. I got out of bed, screamed, knocked this fan over and woke Hilly up. It was pretty gruesome. So then the next night Hilly ordered me out, told me to go out on the town and blow off some steam.
[Editor’s note: So … it’s her fault.]
GEORGE: And I think for seven hours she worked on the apartment. She put in an air purifier, took out the humidifier, hauled a queen-size bed in there, fixed it up, tidied it up. So while she was doing that, I was out with this friend of mine in a bar–roughhousing, knocking drinks over, you know, and it was pretty gruesome–and I came back at 4 a.m. and had no trouble at all sleeping in my room all, thanks to Hilly.
DR. SELMAN: Is this the spinout, or the spinout was the night before this?
GEORGE: This was the spinout. But anyway, I came back into this new apartment and it just looked great–she really has a good eye for spatial whatever. Visual sense!
DR. SELMAN: So you walked in in the middle of the night or something?
GEORGE: And the place had been totally rearranged and organized, and the point is, she solved my breathing problems. I can now sleep in my bedroom, whereas before I had to take a Xanax or Klonopin to fall asleep.
Dr. SELMAN: Wow!
[Editor’s note: He earned his fee this week!]
GEORGE: Yeah, I really appreciate it–it’s great. Thanks.
HILLY: What I did was rearrange things for a purpose. The way things were, there was no rhyme or reason to the organization of the apartment. There were huge piles of things everywhere. Huge piles of clothes, huge piles of papers, and he would never believe me when I’d tell him that those things collect dust–and if you go out and you’re in a club all night, and if you’re around people smoking or you’re smoking and you take that shirt and jacket off and you leave them on the chair right next to where your head is where you sleep, and you let your cat wallow around on your pillow all day and still use that pillowcase, of course you’re going to problems breathing.
[Editor’s note: You can go out for coffee now. This cleaning episode goes on for a while.]
HILLY: And if you have the humidifier or two humidifiers, you’re going to make it all that much worse. So what I did–because he would always throw his laundry into a pile, so I went to Bed Bath and Beyond–I bought like six wicker laundry baskets and those pillowcase covers, and then I got a plant, because apparently plants can help your breathing, and the first day it was great. And I got a whole bunch of lint brushes and I said, “If for some reason you forget to put the covers over the bed and Baba sleeps in your bed, take the lint brush and get her hair off it before you go to sleep.” The next day, I come home and the plant is dead, somehow the bed hasn’t been made—
DR. SELMAN: One day?
HILLY: Yeah. It was incredible!
GEORGE (incomprehensibly, suddenly aggrieved): The plant died? Hilly, I don’t understand why you’re using that tone of voice. I’m saying that you really saved the whole situation, now we can stay in the apartment, I can breathe in my room. I think you did a wonderful job. All your rearranging used to upset me a lot–remember I said it was like Poltergeist? I’d walk into the room and there’d be something missing—
Dr. SELMAN: Well, is the place now sufficiently organized?
HILLY: No. It’s the piles. And I understand, because I don’t throw anything away, I really don’t, but at least put your things in a box or something.
GEORGE: I’m working on that. I got it. I like what you’ve done with the apartment, O.K.? And I appreciate it. I can now go to sleep in my room. Can we just acknowledge that? Back to turning over a new leaf: I quit smoking. The night I went out, I did have cigarettes, but since then I’ve had zero cigarettes. O.K.?
Dr. SELMAN: In five days?
GEORGE: No, it’s been longer than that.
Dr. SELMAN: That sounds great, George.
[Editor’s note: The doctor has now earned twice his fee!]
GEORGE: Since our last session, I’ve smoked that night and had one other cigarette. There’s been a little Nicorette, but every other single night has been smoke-free. And what I’ve been doing instead–and I’ll get to the drinking in a second–I’ve been exercising every single day. I didn’t today, but I walked three or four miles. Other days I’ve swam for 45 minutes, lifted weights, sauna, steam bath.
Dr. SELMAN: I think you should probably go on the patch. I know you’re not currently smoking, but I would do that instead of the Nicorette.
GEORGE: My body has been sort of rejecting the desire to smoke, and I’ve been feeling more relaxed. In the past week I’ve had fewer than 20 drinks. I’ve been having sips of Hilly’s wine, and some nights I’ve had maybe two drinks, a few times zero drinks. Um, so what was my point? That’s good for me. For me, that’s like being sober.
DR. SELMAN: You want to take it to the next level?
GEORGE: You mean having zero drinks every night? Well, I actually don’t want to quit altogether. I’ve also lost my desire go to bars and nightclubs; I don’t feel that urge as much. And in the past, at least the last eight years–see, I’ve had different phases in my life. When I turned 30, I started getting into these “I have to go out now!” trances even at 3 a.m., but I haven’t been doing that lately.
(DR. SELMAN tells GEORGE about an anti-drinking drug called Campral.)
GEORGE: Did you see that piece in The Times on Sunday that advocated moderation for some problem drinkers? Apparently, it’s better off for some people to have a few drinks than no drinks.
[Editor’s note: Hah! Nice try, George.]
DR. SELMAN: It’s the same thing with this drug. It’s worth trying.
GEORGE: No, I’m into it, really. From 15 to 22, I was pretty much a party boy. When I moved back to New York for good at 23 after graduating college, until age 30 I was really focused on work. I’d go out with my high-school friends to the Village Idiot and at around 12:15 a.m. I’d say, “I gotta go now!”, and they’d call me a pussy–“Does your pussy hurt?” You know, drinking bullies. But I had to get somewhere. And by the time I realized I might actually be able to do this for a living, journalism–well, something happened around ’99, 2000. I became party boy times 10. Now it’s tapering off.
DR. SELMAN: Now seven years has gone by and—
GEORGE [ to HILLY]: Don’t you think the last couple years I’ve been going out a lot less?
(HILLY nods, but who knows what this poor girl is thinking.)
GEORGE: Well, enough about me. So do you want to talk about that thing we discussed?
[Editor’s note: Notice how he turns the tables! You can leave now, if you can’t take it.]
HILLY: The agreement is that if we are at home and don’t have any plans to go out, I’m only allowed to have two drinks.
DR. SELMAN: So you both are going to cut down on the drinking?
GEORGE: Last night she had a half a bottle of Sancerre. I was impressed.
DR. SELMAN: So you’re allowed to have two glasses of wine?
HILLY: I guess.
GEORGE: It doesn’t mean she can go out after work, have some drinks and then go home and have two more. And you’ve started exercising again, right?
HILLY: Well, I did yesterday. He made me run around the reservoir. I don’t want to talk about it.
GEORGE: Well, we’re in therapy!
HILLY: I have to go to ladies’ room.
(Exit HILLY. DR. SELMAN goes into his closet and returns with samples of Campral.
DR. SELMAN: The only problem is, you have to take a lot of pills.
DR. SELMAN: You gotta take it every day. Two pills three times a day. That’s the way it is. Each one of these is a week’s worth. And that’s all you do.
GEORGE: Any sort of effect on your brain chemistry?
DR. SELMAN: Well, that’s the idea.
GEORGE: Some of these drugs will make you physically ill if you drink, right?
DR. SELMAN: No, it does not do that.
GEORGE: Well, let’s say for some reason I decided to celebrate some small victory and I go out and have like 14 drinks–it wouldn’t do anything?
DR. SELMAN: No.
GEORGE: Something happened Saturday night. Saturday was great. Went to the Reebok, came home and Hilly was ironing. Normally I find that irritating, but this time she was wearing a black lacy bra and black lacy panties. So what happened?
HILLY: It’s too embarrassing.
GEORGE: We, uh … got busy!
GEORGE: So it was great. Fabulous. Took the subway to Brooklyn. Everything was fine so far, right?
HILLY: I was actually just thinking about this, I get so frustrated. There was a party for work I wanted George to go to, and he said he might have to meet up with his friend Chris, and so I thought, Well, O.K.—
DR. SELMAN: Wait, I’m confused.
HILLY: This was Thursday night. It’ll all come together.
DR. SELMAN: Wednesday was the spinout night?
HILLY: He had two spinouts–Tuesday night and Wednesday night. And then on Thursday—
GEORGE: Wednesday night we saw The History Boys and went to the Spice Market and had an amazing time.
HILLY: Oh yeah, you’re right, I’m sorry. He only had one spinout. Anyway, it kind of hurts my feelings that he never wants to come to anything I invite him to. People who I know think that he’s a mythical figure. Like in The Brady Bunch, Jan Brady had George Glass for an imaginary boyfriend. And so coincidentally George Gurley has the same first name, and so forever all these people don’t think he really exists, and my family for the longest time didn’t think that he was real. He won’t come to things!
GEORGE: Well, that’s because I like to avoid going out to parties and “events” unless it’s for work.
HILLY: So then, on Thursday night, he told me they might be going out with his friend. So after this event that he told me he couldn’t go to was over—
GEORGE: What was the event?
HILLY: The Tribeca Ball.
DR. SELMAN: So you didn’t go?
HILLY: He didn’t go. And I was with two friends, colleagues from work, and I call George and left him a message, because we decided we’d go around the corner to get a cocktail somewhere else to continue our conversation. So we did that. And I hadn’t heard from George. So I try to call him one more time, and this time he didn’t pick up and I don’t think I left a message. So I find out you must have gone out with his friend. Originally I’d told him that I’d be home around 10, so that it was about 11 o’clock. Finally he called and he was at home. So I got into a cab, and by the time I got there he was very upset, saying, “You told me you would be back at 10!” Blah blah blah blah blah. And it just was so frustrating to me.
[Editor’s note: Ladies, has anything like this ever happened to you?]
HILLY: Because I thought, “Well, if I had known that you were here, I could have come back and spent time with you.” But I didn’t because you didn’t return the call, pick up the phone, and you’d suggested that you might go out with Chris. So if I had just come home at 10 and you weren’t there, then I would have felt like a big chump. Like I had—
GEORGE: I don’t want to go to Tribeca anything. I don’t wanna go to stuff like that if I can avoid it.
HILLY: And that’s fine!
GEORGE: I don’t want to be a part of that anymore unless it’s for work.
HILLY: No, that’s fine, but do you understand why I ended up staying out later than I thought? Anyway, the point of all that: when he agreed to come with me all the way to Brooklyn to visit my kitty Sven, who’s staying with my friend Alex. I was amazed he was actually going to go through with it. And on top of that, not only did he stay there for much longer than I’d imagined, then we went to another thing that he didn’t want to go to—
GEORGE: It was a fashion event in a big warehouse on the Lower East Side, and they were playing loud avant-garde Sonic Youth kind of racket. Torture.
[Editor’s note: For once, we’re on his side.]
DR. SELMAN: So Hilly, you’re complimenting him.
HILLY: It was so sweet. I mean, I didn’t want to go either. It was the last place I’d wanna be, but I was happy that these people had invited me to it and I wanted to show my appreciation and say hello to them, and it meant so much to me that he was willing to go with me and put on a happy face and enjoy it for 20 or 30 minutes.
[Editor’s note: What a girl! Send us one like that! On second thought, send two!]
GEORGE: That was all I could take. The point was to see your cat. This is her cat that she’s had for, what, seven years? And she gave him to her friend. Anyway, then we went to some bar on Rivington Street, and that night I had two vodkas and one beer and zero cigarettes. Everything was going great, I’d scored major points, and you told me how thankful you were that I let you move into my apartment. And then we got home–that’s when the shit hit the fan. While I was happy about everything that had transpired, I was still pretty worn out from the trip out there, being at that party and that bar, and I just felt weary. So Hilly asked if she could wash the dishes and I said yeah–not thinking clearly. So after about 10 minutes, I complained.
DR. SELMAN: What was wrong with her doing the dishes?
GEORGE: It’s just the noise of the running water and the cabinets slamming shut and crashes. It was 1 in the morning, and I thought we’d sit and try to relax, talk. So I complained and she said, “Fuck you.” And I said “fuck you” back. Twice. That was kind of a low point in our relationship.
DR. SELMAN: And that was two nights ago?
GEORGE: And we both felt really bad. I’m sorry about that.
HILLY: I’m very, very sorry. I don’t think I’ve ever said that to anyone. It’s one thing to say “go to hell” or “damn you,” but it’s so crass, and I think it really hit me when you said it back to me, and I thought, “I can’t believe it.”
GEORGE: I actually had four drinks that night, but it was more the noise. Very sensitive to noise.
[Editor’s note: George puts his hands to head, Blanche DuBois–like.]
DR. SELMAN: Sounds like a bad week, all in all. Started out with one spinout and now it’s every night.
HILLY: Well, it was tough. Because George had just finished his big story, and my schedule was exactly the opposite. I’ve been extremely busy. And then to come home and find George sitting there, and I don’t know what he’s been doing all day, I’m thinking basically he’s been here the whole day and I’ve been doing all of this and he can’t even put the dishes in the dishwasher?
DR. SELMAN: You guys have a dishwasher?
[Editor’s note: “You guys have a dishwasher?” Obviously this session has gotten to Dr. Selman. He may be fantasizing playing 18 holes of golf in Phuket, Thailand. But he slogs on!]
HILLY: Yeah, so I can even come home and sort of have peace of mind—
GEORGE: You want that to be my job, washing the dishes?
HILLY: Piles, piles of clothes. All you needed is put the dishes in the dishwasher and I’ll get all the cruddy food off later. Just so the sink is empty.
GEORGE: Oh, O.K.!
HILLY: And the trash in the trash can. If you take something, if you take your Breathe Right strip off, instead of putting it on the windowsill, put it in the trashcan.
DR. SELMAN: What do you think about that?
GEORGE: It sounds entirely reasonable. And I like doing the dishes! That was my favorite job after journalism.
[Editor’s note: Now he knows how to get that raise! There’s a big stack of dinner plates waiting for him at McGeveran’s house.]
HILLY: The day after I did all that stuff, the day after I spent seven hours alone cleaning and doing all that stuff, which I enjoyed, I came home and there were dirty socks right on the top of the table.
DR. SELMAN: Why don’t we just focus in on one thing?
[Editor’s note: Fore!]
GEORGE: She never talks this way, it’s only in therapy.
HILLY: Because if I say something, your initial reaction, frequently, is “Lighten up!” or “Whatever! Rah-ha!” And then it just turns into this kind of ugly thing. So instead I think, “O.K., I’ve become a little bit more–”
GEORGE: I don’t have any room to put my clothes because you took both those closets.
DR. SELMAN: Well, the original thing was the dishes—
GEORGE: Yeah, I liked it in Italy—
DR. SELMAN: Why don’t we just focus in on the dishes? Because if you try to do too much, it waters it down.
[Editor’s note: Hmmm … might have to shank on the fourteenth hole!]
GEORGE: I’ll make a deal with you. You get home around 7 o’clock, I’ve been doing nothing all day lately, and I will, yeah, I’ll make sure–how about this: I’ll make sure the sink is empty by the time you get home. That O.K.?
HILLY: And the counter?
GEORGE: What do you mean, wipe—
HILLY: No, you can’t just stack up the dishes on the counter.
DR. SELMAN: Why not clean up as soon as you’re finished with something?
[Editor’s note: Darn! Double bogey!]
GEORGE: I’m not like that. Not my style.
DR. SELMAN: Well, obviously not.
GEORGE: I’ll do it before you come home. I love washing dishes. It takes my mind off my mind. There’s something satisfying about it, sense of accomplishment.
HILLY: You need to do a more thorough job. When I wake up in the morning and I go to the kitchen and see all the dishes and the remnants of—
GEORGE: I can’t believe you! You do that. No, no, no. No. This is not fair. When you finish something, you don’t wash the dish off. You don’t will water into the bowl.
HILLY: Because the dishes are stacked up, and there’s like this much room up by the faucet or this spigot or whatever you call that thing, and you can’t even fit the bowl under there—
GEORGE: O.K., that’s my job. Dishes and the trash. Hilly made some great spaghetti Bolognese last night. It was perfect and hot this time.
DR. SELMAN: Is that O.K. then, Hilly? Let’s say between now and the next session, he does the dishes?
[Editor’s note: Dr. Selman, you earned that golf trip to Phuket.]
HILLY: Yes. Yes! Definitely. I know both my mom and my dad are so anal about this kind of stuff. If something comes out of the cabinet, you have to put it back.
GEORGE: I’ll never be that way.
HILLY: I know in that respect I’m the same way, but the opposite, because every time I see the salt shaker on the counter it really gets to me.
GEORGE: We’re going to work on the stuff. Back to a previous topic: Now that I’ve renounced heavy partying, I have this kind of emptiness in a way, a void that I want fill with one, work. I’m in my next phase, and 38 to 45 is going to be about work. Two, I’m going to read even more, five hours a day. And then three, art. Museums. And then exercise. And then the latest kick is religion. I tricked her into going to church with me Sunday. I said I’d take her out to dinner, then reneged. We went to Redeemer Presbyterian church on the Upper East Side and heard this guy Keller deliver a great sermon. Ann Coulter turned me onto him.
[Editor’s note: As usual, you buried the news, Gurley!]
GEORGE: He was talking about Jesus’ miracle with the five loaves of bread and the two fish and how what he did was a revolutionary act, and how you can subvert this culture by being a Christian. You like him, right?
GEORGE: What I want to do is go to 50 places of worship in the next year.
DR. SELMAN: You both are the same religion?
HILLY: Yes. And then we walked outside and started walking to the park, and he said, “So, did you like it?” And I said, “Yeah!” And then I said, “But as far as church goes, it’s just not really”–and I didn’t know how to put it, but I said “my style.” And he got really mad.
GEORGE: Because they had like this soft-rock band onstage the whole time.
HILLY: The positive experiences I’ve had with church were in a more classic churchlike environment with classical music, and they had soft rock. I love what that man had to say, I thought it was great, but it didn’t seem like a thoughtful atmosphere, which is what I like–the time to reflect.
GEORGE: I am perfectly willing to go try other churches, a different one every Sunday.
HILLY: And I like it when people turn around and say “Peace be with you” and shake your hand.
GEORGE: Oh, I don’t like that at all. That’s just horrible.
HILLY: I think it’s really nice.
DR. SELMAN: So what are you going to do?
HILLY: So he was really upset walking into the park, and I felt bad, because I felt like—
GEORGE (imitating HILLY): “It really wasn’t my scene, my style.” And I was like, “Oh God, she’s talking about,” you know—
HILLY: I understood how it could come across that way. I’ll definitely go with you again, but the churches I went to growing up—
GEORGE: One of the guy’s messages was you have to be inadequate to be adequate. He talked about giving 10 percent of your income to charity and doing volunteer work, which can make you more vulnerable because you’re not only thinking about your career all the time, and he said only then can you be a revolutionary. You know, provocative ideas like that, that’s what I got out of it. And I think you liked it to right up to the point you said, “Not really my style.” But I’m with you—what’ll we try, St. Thomas or St. Patrick’s? I’ll try anything.
DR. SELMAN: St. Patrick’s is Catholic.
GEORGE: Yeah, yeah, I’ll go anywhere. I’ll try Buddhism.
HILLY: Then he said the reason he was upset was that he wanted this to be something we could do together, and I said, “Oh Georgie, you’re so sweet and special and handsome,” and he said, “I know, that’s the way I’ve always been.”
GEORGE: Right. Did I ask? No, but that’s one thing I wanted for us, to have common interests. And I know I’ve been kind of pushing things on you, like Stevie Wonder, buying you a copy of The Fountainhead and making you watch Upstairs, Downstairs.
HILLY: It’s weird–he saw me reading this Plum Sykes book, and like three hours later he came back with The Fountainhead.
GEORGE: What are some things that I’ve turned you on to more that we have enjoyed together? Besides cats and 24.
HILLY: Oh, Fawlty Towers. The Office.
GEORGE: What else? You don’t really like my music.
HILLY: No, I like your music! The thing about Sunday, I had the whole day planned.
DR. SELMAN: Where did he take you to dinner after church?
GEORGE: Oh yeah, to punish you.
HILLY: I can’t stand going to that place. People were so hostile. This woman shoved her shopping cart right to the back of my heel, and she did it on purpose and I screamed, “Owwww!”
GEORGE: First of all, she didn’t do it on purpose. It was really crowded. Some workers were behind the lady rushing past her, saying, “Excuse me, get out the way!” And she was trying to get out of their way, and she accidentally nudged you in the shoe. And you were being really dramatic when you screamed “Ow!” so loud. You just have to be ready for that kind of scene at Fairway and put out a good vibe and—
HILLY: This is from the guy who’s always threatening to leave New York and—
GEORGE: Fairway, in a way, is a spiritual experience.
[Editor’s note: And so we start to fade on this session. What could Dr. Selman be thinking? Do the words “dinner and the movies” mean anything to you?)
GEORGE: Well, tonight I would like to walk home. Can we walk home through the park?
GEORGE: And there’s still no way–just as a one-time deal—to do a session at Elaine’s? No way. Is it that we’ll get to know you better? And Hilly’s told me that she’s holding back, that she’s not opening up as much. She’ll have one or two drinks, maybe. But you think that would be making a mockery of therapy?
DR. SELMAN: Yes.
[Editor’s note: Two points, Selman!]
GEORGE: We can have lunch somewhere on a Saturday, during the day. Well, we’ll talk about it next time.
[ To be continued.]
Prior Articles: George and Hilly published 05/15/06 George and Hilly published 05/08/06 George and Hilly published 05/01/06 George and Hilly published 04/17/06 George and Hilly published 04/03/06 George and Hilly published 03/20/06 George and Hilly published 02/6/06 George and Hilly published 01/23/06 George and Hilly published 01/16/06 George and Hilly published 12/26/05 George and Hilly published 11/14/05 George and Hilly published 11/07/05 George and Hilly published 10/24/05 George and Hilly published 10/17/05 George and Hilly published 10/10/05 George and Hilly published 10/03/05 George ’n’ Hilly, Back in Couples, Turn on the Doc published 09/26/05 But Should We Get Married? Part III published 08/29/05 But Should We Get Married? published 08/15/05 Should I Get Married? My Hilly Joining Me In Couples Session published 08/08/05