Category Archives: prose

From Couplehood


Remember this show – Mad About You, with Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser?

I used to love it! Am currently downloading the 3rd and 4th seasons of the show.

So, I found this book written by Paul Reiser. It’s called Couplehood. And, it’s typical Paul Reiser! And, I love it!

Here’s an excerpt:

“…the way I figure, there are two types of people: those who get it and those who don’t. If they get it, there’s nothing to explain, and if they don’t, there’s no point in trying to explain. They don’t get it. Move on.

But I remember thinking that if you’re going to be with someone, you should find someone who gets it. And someone who fits.”

Interesting thing: Ask most guys why they marry the woman they do, and they’ll tell you, “She’s the first one who called me on everything.”

All the things you tried to get away with in the past, all the games you designed and mastered for the express purpose of keeping people at arm’s length were, it turns out, all just a weeding-out process, a search for the one person who doesn’t fall for it – the one who can sidestep your tricks and see right through you. And, ironically, you’re not upset. In fact, you’re impressed. You think, “Wow, good for you.” And the message goes forth: “Okay, no more calls, we have a winner.”

See, a lot of times we’re just clueless. We walk around, scarred from previous relationships, thinking we’ve learned something, when in fact, things that may have been deal breakers in the past may not even bother the person you’re with now. (Learning what actually bothers the new person is how you spend the rest of your life.) But there is this need to disclose potential problem areas.

“I snore.”

“That’s okay.”

“No, but I snore in odd, little rhythms.”

“Doesn’t bother me.”

“I once snored a medley from The King and I.”

“My favourite musical.”

“Alright…I just thought you should know.”

And you keep raising the ante. Not that you want to scare them off; it’s just that if they’re ever going to leave you, let’s get it out of the way now.

“You may notice that in the bathroom, I tend to flush a few seconds before I’m actually done. I don’t know why, I just do. And there’s no way I can change. Do you understand this? Can you accept this? Because it has cost me dearly in the past.”

And she still hasn’t changed her mind.

So, you think, “Maybe this’ll work.” And ultimately, they find out everything:

How you chew, how you sip, how you hum, how you dance. How you smell at every point in the day, how you are on the phone with your mother, the fact that many of your friends are shallow, that you always have to sit on the aisle, how you never really listen, how whiny you get when you travel, how you’r enot gracious to her friends when they call, how certain game shows make you really really happy, how cranky you get because you’re too stupid to remember to eat, how you manage to get confrontational only when it’s with the absolute wrong person to be yelling at, how you don’t like the way you look in any picture you’ve taken since 1974, how you’re unable to get off the phone when you’re running late because you don’t have the ability to say, “This isn’t a good time; can I call you back?” How you have to lick certain fruits before actually eating them, how you have no ability to save receipts – all these things, and they still want to sign on. They still like you.

This feels good. For about a minute.

But the next thought is, “Wait a second, why is she being so understanding? If this stuff doesn’t faze her, her stuff must be even worse … Oh God – what don’t I know?”

And every day, bit by bit, you find out.

True, no? 🙂

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There Was Once


– There was once a poor girl, as beautiful as she was good, who lived with her wicked stepmother in a house in the forest.

– Forest? Forest is passe’, I mean I’ve had it with all this wilderness stuff. It’s not a right image of our society, today. Let’s have some urban for a change.

– There was once a poor girl, as beautiful as she was good, who lived with her wicked stepmother in a house in the suburbs.

– That’s better. But I have to seriously query this word poor.

– But she was poor!

– Poor is relative. She lived in a house, didn’t she?

– Yes.

– Then, socioeconomically speaking, she was not poor.

– But none of the money was hers! The whole point of the story is that the wicked stepmother makes her wear old clothes and sleep in the fireplace –

– Aha! They had fireplace! With poor, let me tell you, there’s no fireplace. Come down to the park, come to the subway stations after dark, come down to where they sleep in cardboard boxes, and I’ll show you poor!

– There was once a middle-class girl, as beautiful as she was good –

– Stop right there. I think we can cut the beautiful, don’t you? Women these days have to deal with too many intimidating physical role models as it is, what with those bimbos in the ads. Can’t you make her, well, more average?

– There was once a girl who was a little overweight and whose front teeth stuck out, who –

– I dont’ think it’s nice to make fun of people’s appearances. Plus, you’re encouraging anorexia.

– I wasn’t making fun! I was just describing –

– Skip the description Description oppresses. But you can say what colour she was.

– What colour?

– You know. Black, white, red, brown, yellow. Those are the choices. And I’m telling you right now, I’ve had enough of white. Dominant culture this, dominant culture that –

– I dont’ know what colour.

– Well, it would probably be your colour, wouldn’t it?

– But this isn’t about me! It’s about this girl –

– Everything is about you.

– Sounds to me like you don’t want to hear this story at all.

– Oh well, go on. You could make her ethnic. That might help.

– There was once a girl of indeterminate descent, as average-looking as she was good, who lived with her wicked –

– Another thing. Good and wicked. Don’t you think you should transcend those puritanical judgemental moralistic epithets? I mean, so much of that is conditioning, isn’t it?

– There was once a girl, as average-looking as she was well-adjusted, who lived with her stepmother, who was not a very open and loving person because she herself had been abused in childhood.

– Better. But I am so tired of negative female images! And stepmothers – they always get it in the neck! Change it to stepfather, why don’t you? That would make more sense anyway, considering the bad behaviour you’re about to describe. And throw in some whips and chains. We all know what those twisted, repressed, middle-aged men are like –

Hey, just a minute! I’m a middle-aged

– Stuff it, Mister Nosy Parker! Nobody asked you to stick in your oar, or whatever you want to call that thing. This is between the two of us. Go on.

– There was once a girl –

– How old was she?

– I don’t know. She was young.

– This ends with a marriage, right?

– Well, not to blow the plot, but – yes.

– Then you can scratch the condescending paternalistic terminology. It’s woman, pal. Woman.

– There was once –

– What’s this was, once? Enough of the dead past. Tell me about now.

– There –

– So?

– So, what?

– So, why not here?

From Bones & Murder by Margaret Atwood

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Words


“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

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happy, happy, happy


“In that direction,” the grinning cat said, waving its paw round, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either if you like: they’re both mad.”
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said that Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here. By-the-bye, what became of the baby?”
“It turned into a pig,” Alice answered very quietly.
“I thought it would,” said the Cat, and vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end on the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing!”

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