A pessimist is a man who thinks all women are bad. An optimist is a man who hopes they are. — Chauncey Mitchell Depew
With each glass of wine, Jen sunk a little deeper into the sofa cushions, but her gaze remained alert and fixed on the miniature web page displayed on her phone. “Five things I can’t live without,” she said, inciting responses from around the coffee table.
“Your dogs, of course,” I offered.
“Books,” suggested Rosa.
“Yeah, those are good; there’s my slanket, gotta have that,” said Jen. “And I don’t care how it comes across, but I have to put Hitachi.”
“That’s a good one,” I said. “Lets ’em know you mean business.”
“What’s a Hitachi?” It was Christie, our host, who voiced the question, but it was clear from the look on her face that Nancy was also wondering.
“For serious?” I said. “Tell me you’re kidding. You guys don’t have — you haven’t even heard of the Hitachi Magic Wand? Really?” I picked up my iPhone, Googled an image of the super-powered electric massager, and held it up so everyone could see the picture as I continued to express my amazement that these women — both 15 years my senior — had made it this far in life without having ever come across what I consider to be a standard-as-sheets bedroom accessory.
I had begun to detail the most effective method of administering the device on a man when my phone chimed with a text. Five faces stared at me in expectation as I checked the screen. “He says, ‘We’re talking about food and travel, Toro’ — that’s a restaurant in Boston — ‘and NYC.’”
“Bo-o-oring,” said Jen. She held up her iPhone, the hardware by which the recent divorcée was creating her online dating profile, and said, “It wants me to describe myself. I like painting, reading, gardening... I’m just going to say, ‘indoorsy.’”
While the rest of the group brainstormed adjectives for Jen’s profile, I responded to David’s text. David and I were on either end of the wormhole that connected our parallel universes of men drinking moonshine and women drinking wine. Because my friend Kate preferred to “not celebrate” her birthday and instead have a girls’ night at Christie’s, our friend Josue had decided to host a boys’ night at his place the same evening. Three husbands and one new boyfriend were enjoying a rare seafood-centric meal (two wives are allergic, and I’m not a big fan), while we six women shared cheese, wine, and a handful of elaborate cooked dishes David had prepared and packed for me, with instructions for how each should be heated and served.
After mingling in the kitchen for an hour or so, we’d finally retired to Christie’s living room, arranging ourselves in an oval around the smorgasbord of treats and libations on the table between us.
“Now it’s asking me what I’m looking for in a guy,” Jen announced. “Is it rude to say ‘size matters’? I don’t want to get to the third date just to be disappointed. Once you’re three dinners in, you kinda feel obligated.”
“I don’t think you should put that,” said Kate. Rosa and Nancy nodded fervently.
I was about to play devil’s advocate and encouraged Jen to declare her size conditions when my phone distracted me by chiming again. I looked down at the screen and paraphrased the message. “They’re talking about exercising and quality of life,” I said. The girls snickered. “I’m going to tell him we’re talking about BDSM because I was about to bring it up anyway.”
“Speaking of which, what does the D stand for?” asked Nancy.
“Domination,” I said.
“The men are surprisingly tame,” said Christie. “You’d think they’d be the ones talking about dirty stuff. Do you think David’s telling you the truth?”
“I’d bet money on it,” I said. David trusted me to know the difference between sharable information and top-secret stuff — aside from a few flirtatious texts that were clearly meant only for me, I divulged everything he wrote. “Still,” I continued, “the guys are letting me down. Here they have the perfect opportunity to talk about us, and they’re totally squandering it. And, if they’re not going to talk about us, they could at least talk about something juicy enough to entertain us...you know, give us something to work with over here. Exercise? Travel? Yawn. But then again, I guess minds don’t get much naughtier than mine. Except Jen’s, of course. Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to ask about something that’s been dancing around my head lately...how many times would you have to get waxed before hair just stops growing? Does it ever?”
Rosa and Nancy claimed the need for a glass of water and excused themselves from the room, leaving Kate, Christie, Jen, and me to contemplate the potential benefits and ramifications of excessive wax treatments.
“You know, they always say, ‘The carpet matches the drapes,’” said Kate, “but, nowadays? Carpet? I don’t think so. It’s more like an area rug. Or maybe an entry mat.”
“If you have laser treatments, it never grows back,” said Christie. “I had it done. I haven’t had to shave my armpits in years. I got my mustache done, too, and my Frida brow.” She went on to explain that she had to undergo eight or nine treatments, but that, since the last one was completed, she’s remained hairless in every one of the targeted areas.
“I’m totally going to do that,” said Jen. “Not the laser, not yet, but the waxing. I went on a few dates with a real butt-man — all he wants to do is stroke my bum by firelight. It’s just peach fuzz on the cheeks, but I’d feel a lot better if it was completely smooth. I’m not kidding, I’m inspired — I’m getting my ass waxed this week.”
I received another text from David right then, asking me what we were talking about. I typed, “You don’t want to know. You?” David disclosed the current topic of guy conversation — something about America’s relatively puritanical perspective on art when compared with Mexico’s. “Wow,” I wrote back, “you would be having so much more fun over here.” Then, reconsidering our lines of discussion, I texted him once more. “Scratch that, you’re not missing anything. Enjoy your seafood! Xoxo.”