Excerpts from Mating Cries
WOMAN: I was at a party with name tags, and talking to this guy, but I couldn’t read his name tag and he sounded like I was supposed to know him. And finally he said, “You really don’t remember, do you?”
MAN: I was eighteen, first year college, I met Bobbi, maybe I guess mid-20’s, and she wanted love but not sex, and I wanted sex but not love. And finally we were together, all night, very sweet.
WOMAN: I liked Wolf. He made me feel like it was lots of fun. That it was something two people did who actually liked each other.
MAN: We decided we’d split up, and wanted it to be friendly, and so we made love again, and said thanks, and then we had an hour’s ride together on the subway, to think about it, before we never saw each other again.
WOMAN: We were borrowing a friend’s apartment for the afternoon. And right in the middle of things, he knocked on the door, and I said “Who is it?” and he said, “I need to do something with the pot roast.” Now we laugh at the word “pot roast.”
MAN: In Denver, I made love with a woman who was extremely fat. I mean extremely fat. I was very surprised.
WOMAN: I asked my lover what he was becoming. He said, “An artichoke.” More fleshy the deeper you peel. Now every face that comes near I think, Is this an artichoke?
MAN: She was crying, and she threw the cup on the floor and it broke. So I yelled, and I picked up a cup and threw it on the floor, and it broke. And this went back and forth, and finally she picked up the honey jar and threw it, and it broke. And that was the last time we threw stuff.
MAN: Are you an exceptional woman? Single white male seeks warm, empathic, intelligent woman, with a sensitivity which is able to appreciate both the profound and the absurd. I relate best to people who are articulate, introspective and somewhat unconventional. I’m all of the above: thirty-eight, five foot eight, own an interesting and successful business. Please send photo.
WOMAN: Single female, gregarious, tall, very independent and yes, of course, attractive, seeks a non-neutered male to share long walks, good talks, varied moods and the less expensive pleasures of life. Outside wrapping of this precious package is immaterial: I’m looking for the good man within. If allergic to closeness, please do not respond. Tell me about the real you.
WOMAN: Hello?
MAN: Oh, I kept getting the wrong number. Hi.
WOMAN: Oh hi.
MAN: Right.
WOMAN: Who’s this?
MAN: Remember?
WOMAN: Oh. Who?
MAN: Me.
WOMAN: Oh! Well?
MAN: Well.
MAN: What?
WOMAN: “Huh.”
MAN: Oh.
MAN: Wow.
WOMAN: Yeh. Look, is this an obscene phone call or something?
MAN: No.
STU: Ok? You ok? Can you see your watch?
JES: Bout five minutes apart. They’re not so bad. (Sharp stab of pain) Oh! Surprise.
STU: Hold on, Jes. We’re ten minutes from the hospital.
JES: Watch out you don’t get on the freeway.
STU: Second light?
JES: At the sign. Big sign for a bank, dollar signs.
STU: “Have you watered your money?”
JES: (feeling a sharp stab) Stu, they’re closer.
STU: I told you that dream? I had to get up cause I hadn’t watered the money?
JES: Watch for the turn.
STU: Ok.
JES: Up ahead.
STU: I’m turning.
JES: No!
STU: Whatta you mean?
JES: Didn’t you see it?
STU: You said to turn.
JES: I said no. I said look for the bank sign. Turn around.
STU: We’re on a ramp.
JES: It’s like a fist.
STU: We’re onto the freeway.
MAN: Sound of a latch. Rush of wind. Child’s cry. Door slam.
JES: Oh my God!
STU: What!
JES: He fell out.
STU: Who?
JES: Mark. He opened the door and fell out. Stop the car!
STU: Hon, he’s nineteen. He’s old enough.
JES: He’s a baby—
STU: Not any more. Jes, we oughta be happy they’re old enough to work the latch. It’s time for Kathy to go. She’s two years older.
JES: Slow down a little.
STU: It happens so fast. Like the Roadrunner.
MAN: It’s the Senior Prom, I don’t have a date. I’m still a virgin. There’s a girl over there I could dance with, maybe, so I think I ought to dance. I cross the dance-floor.
But I get closer, I see who it is. That’s why nobody’s dancing with her.
It’s Kali.
Kali stands under a cloud of blue balloons, prom dress, crinolines and skulls, and waits to be asked. I cross the floor, come to her. She reaches out three of her hands.
It’s a slow dance, a two-step. She smiles, and shows me her soft, flat, hungry tongue.
WOMAN: The water pressure’s low, ten minutes to fill the toilet. Faucet drips. Window’s jammed. Paint over paint over paint. And it smells. It smells like old people. Smells like where you know you’re gonna die.
MAN: It’s two hundred dollars cheaper.
WOMAN: I wonder who’s going to feed the squirrel.
MAN: I was trying to remember— Thinking about the tree—
WOMAN: What story?
MAN: I didn’t say “story.” I was going to say “Trying to remember a story.” but I didn’t say “story.” You said it before I said it.
WOMAN: You never get to the point. What story?
MAN: It had something to do with trees. It was the Greeks or the Romans or something.
WOMAN: You told me that story.
MAN: Wh— I don’t remember it!
WOMAN: You dredged it up when I had to quit my job, and it was supposed to make me feel better, and we got in a big fight because I had no intention of feeling better.
MAN: The gods go to every house. They say, “We’re thirsty.” They knock on a thousand doors.
WOMAN: “We gave at the office.”
MAN: “There’s nobody home.” And the gods cried out like great bulls. The doors stayed shut. They came to the cottage.
WOMAN: It was a shack.
MAN: Third-floor walkup.
WOMAN: They knocked. They cried like great bulls.