GEORGE: Because I haven’t gotten her ring? I just don’t speak that language, I’m afraid.
DR. SELMAN: It’s not just her. You’re saying that if somebody wants you to do something, you won’t do it, just for the very sake that they want you to do it.
GEORGE: Maybe this is the 25 percent, the bad guy—
DR. SELMAN: I think you’ve got a lot of repressed anger, George.
GEORGE: Repressed anger?
DR. SELMAN: A lot of hostility.
GEORGE: Do I seem hostile right now?
DR. SELMAN: Passive-aggressive. She’s asking you for one lousy ring.
GEORGE: Hold on a second. You know that thing leads to marriage—
DR. SELMAN: She didn’t mention the word “marriage.”
GEORGE: That’s the first step, then there’s a wedding, kids—
HILLY: I don’t know about that stuff; it seems like something so beyond anything I could handle. But one reason I feel strongly about this ring—it sets the tone, makes us both start to think about if we’re capable of getting to that point.
GEORGE: That’s all it is? O.K., now I’m understanding it better. So getting engaged has nothing to do with getting married?
DR. SELMAN: Well …
HILLY: Not really.
DR. SELMAN: She didn’t even say engaged. She just said a ring.
HILLY: No, I want a ring that I can refer to as an engagement ring. I don’t want to tell anyone.
GEORGE: You get engaged, that means you’re going to get married in a year.
HILLY: No, it doesn’t! I’d like to have the ring, it will give me a great amount of peace of mind. Who knows, maybe five years down the road, we’ll wake up and say, “Let’s go to Vegas and tie the knot!”
GEORGE: Can we call it something besides an engagement ring?
DR. SELMAN: What would you call it, a pre-engagement ring?
HILLY: I already have one of those.
GEORGE: Can we call it something else that might be more palatable? What’s a promise ring?
HILLY: It means that you will not see anyone else, no evil ho’s. It’s a preamble to an engagement ring. I already have one.
GEORGE: A friendship ring?
HILLY: No, it’s not, it’s a promise ring.
DR. SELMAN: O.K., it would have to be an engagement ring.
GEORGE: You have to understand that this is not something that’s been in my consciousness, ever.
DR. SELMAN: George, she brings it up every time.
GEORGE: I knew this would come up. I was planning on bringing up the two George’s in my head. One of them’s always saying you will never find someone like Hilly, someone who will put up with you. But then this other guy—
DR. SELMAN: What’s the other guy’s name?
GEORGE: Damien. He’s actually pretty persuasive. Most of the time, he’s a little wimpy bitch. Damien always says, “You gotta get out—if you get married, you’re going to have to work in publicity or real estate. You will have to start being responsible and think about others. In other words, you will be fucked.”
DR. SELMAN: How do you think that your life will be any different if you gave her an engagement ring?
GEORGE: This subject only comes up here. She doesn’t bring it up at home, so I don’t think about it.
DR. SELMAN: Is that true?
HILLY: My God, if I even bring up the word Christmas—
GEORGE: Let’s talk about Christmas. We are talking about the ring, we’re making progress—
DR. SELMAN: I don’t know if we’re making progress.
GEORGE: You have to trust me, I’m actually taking this subject seriously. I am! But I can’t do anything about it right now. I have one dollar and 43 cents in the bank until Friday.
HILLY: You can do something creative. You could say, “Okay, I suggest you move the promise ring to your other hand, and we’ll call it even.”
GEORGE: You mean right now?
GEORGE: As usual, before Thanksgiving she started talking about Christmas. I said I would do everything I could to make you happy on Christmas.
HILLY: You can give me a ring. You don’t have to give it to me on Christmas, you don’t have to be with me on Christmas, you can do whatever the hell you want on Christmas. Just give me the ring. I leave on December 23. I want it before I go.
GEORGE: Well, that kind of sweetens the deal, doesn’t it, because I was thinking I might want to stay here and work.
HILLY: Stay. Just give me the ring. You can do anything you want, as long as it doesn’t involve [ed. deleted] women.
GEORGE: Hilly doesn’t like me hanging out with certain types of women.
DR. SELMAN: Here is your opportunity for the heroic gesture.
GEORGE: So Japanese women are okay?
HILLY: They’re fine.
GEORGE: What do you like about Christmas?
HILLY: It’s a nice time to think about making other people happy.
DR. SELMAN: Is that how you feel George, just wanting to do nice things for other people?
GEORGE: I sometimes think I need to minimize my dealings with humanity. Sometimes I think people don’t like me. People like me, right? But you know what, it hit me recently, that not everyone does. I don’t think I’m everyone’s cup of tea. Not always met with applause.
GEORGE: I went out last night, someone had time-release Adderall. That stuff is so great. I went to the Beatrice until four and woke up at 11 and felt great, then around three o’clock, I started to crash. Why does there have to be a crash involved?
DR. SELMAN: What do you imagine would be different about your life if you’re engaged to Hilly?
GEORGE: Damien says if we get engaged, a year later we get married.
DR. SELMAN: Is that true, Hilly, that once you get the ring, you’re going to start pressuring him to get married?
HILLY: I don’t think so. I don’t know. At some point, you have to start to think about the future. It’s a nice idea to think about having kids. I can’t even take care of a cat.
GEORGE: I guess it’s just a question of reprogramming me about what getting engaged means.
HILLY: Normally, people, either you go to a restaurant to make a big production of it, get down on your knee, and then you send out announcements and people send presents—I don’t want any of that. I don’t want anyone involved.
DR. SELMAN: I don’t think you have to worry about that.
HILLY: I want you to maybe take me out for a burrito and give me the ring, and I’ll say, “Cool, great, thanks,” and I won’t tell all my girlfriends—
GEORGE: I know myself pretty well, and when I was in Kansas, I spent a lot of time with my dad and when I look at him—
HILLY: If people want to send us presents, that would be great. We would accept them gladly, but we are not going to send out announcements and have special outfits and a party and cakes. I mean, I’ll make cake for myself, but I’m not inviting anyone to share it with me.
GEORGE: So let’s do a recap.
HILLY: It’s December 5th. You have twenty days.