from NIGHT MUSIC

another tidbit to lure one, maybe, to the production next month. This is near the end of the play, where Philomela, our heroine, stops to contemplate what she thinks she has learned about men.

 

Phil: I have a theory about men. Only for eight or ten years of a man’s life does he care what women think. It’s not malice. It’s not arrogance or misogyny. It’s the recognition that, though women were made for the earth and belong here, he was not and does not. I can’t explain this. Neither can he. But with both know it. Louie Fishman lived next door when I was a little girl. He was two or three years younger than I, which was just enough to give me perspective on his play. It was different from mine. I watched him over the morning glory fence that separated our properties. He made noises, otherworldly noises. He gave voice to rocket ships and steam shovels and stones and the collar of his dead dog and things that I couldn’t even imagine picking up and playing with. It was a sort of echolocation, finding where he was by sending his voice in all directions and seeing what it bounced off of, what shape it had when it returned. Even in my extreme moments, my far-fetched moments, when I was Pocahontas or the famous ballerina princess, I was always something I could, conceivably, be. Or have been. Not Louie. Not little Louie. He was a perfectly normal little kid, and yet he had come into the world with no idea at all of what he was supposed to be, or of what he could not, be, ever. Nothing stopped him from longing for things that are impossible. Something stopped me. I never wanted to be a dinosaur. I never brought my plastic airplane to life so that it could not leave my arms even in sleep. I blame it on being a woman. I thank being a woman for it. I can be thwarted, disappointed, infuriated, but never bewildered in the same way they can. I was given a seat in the living room beside the fire. Louie. . and Cleve, and Jesse. . . they were given chairs by the door. You never know when they will be compelled to rise up and go. So, for those eight or ten years, men pay attention to us and change their lives to impress us, but afterwards, unless they’re one of those permanent bachelors whose courtship ends only with dotage, they don’t care so very much. Oh, they love us. They love the children we have tricked them into begetting. But they are looking for. . . something. It is not us. We grasp and they retreat like figures in a mirror. This is why, sometimes. . . no, often, we hate them from our heart’s heart. And they don’t even know.

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