Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009) Script

So...

I have this thing.

It's a... well, it's this...

Well, it's cost me every sexual relationship I ever had.

And I don't know why I do it.

It's... I'm not a political person.

I don't consider myself...

I mean, I'm not one of these "America first," read-the-newspaper, will-Hillary-get-the-nod people.

I'll be doing it with some girl. It doesn't matter who.

It's when I start to climax that it happens.

I'm not a Democrat.

I don't even vote.

I freaked out about it once, and I called a radio show, a doctor on the radio, anonymously.

And he diagnosed it as the uncontrolled yelling of involuntary words or phrases, frequently insulting or scatological.

"Coprolalia" is the official term.

What is it that you say?

"Victory for the forces of democratic freedom."

Only way louder, as in, really shouting it.

"Victory for the forces of democratic freedom!"

Only louder than that.

It wouldn't be so embarrassing if it weren't so totally fucking weird, if I had any clue what it was about.

You know?


Well, I'm very surprised to see you here.

Oh?

Well yeah, I mean, your... your record on attending these academic events has been somewhat spotty.

I know. I'm sorry.

I was just finishing up grading those papers.

I should have them to you tomorrow.

Yeah, and you?

Will we have you in class tomorrow?

Yes.

And, Professor, I know I've been a little distracted, and I'm sorry.

Look, I know you're allergic to these events, these parties and whatnot.

But believe it or not, I actually look forward to them.

Now, I think we can talk about this at some other time, and you need to give yourself a break.

All right?

And look, as long as you're out, you might as well have a good time.

Pretty nice, huh?

What's that? Pretty nice?

Yeah, glamorous.

You been doing this all day?

Yeah, a few people before you.

Do you mind if I turn this on?

No.

Great. Thanks.

Sure.

Sometimes it's like, I think, "Hey, what if I can't?"

And then I think, "Oh, shit, don't think that," you know, 'cause thinking can make it happen.

Not that it happens that often, but I get scared about it.

We all do.

Anybody tells you different is full of shit.

You can tell 'em I said so.

It's like, I always think, you know, "I wouldn't even be worried about it if she wasn't here."

It's like she's expecting something.

You know, that if she wasn't lying there, expecting it, wondering, like, evaluating, it wouldn't even occur to me.

You know, and then I get kind of pissed off.

I get so pissed off, I don't give a shit anymore, "Can I, or can I not?"

I just want to show her up.

You know, and then it's like, "All right.

"You asked for it.

"Here we go, bitch.

Here we go!"

What does today's woman want?

That's the big one.

I totally agree.

It's the... what do you call...

Or put another way, what do today's women think they want, versus what do they really deep-down want?

How about this?

What do they think they're supposed to want?

From a male.

From a guy.

Whether it sounds Neanderthal or not, I'm still gonna argue it's the big one, because the whole question's become such a mess.

Looks like someone needs to refuel.

Hey, Jeff.

No, thank you.

These bathroom waits can sometimes take forever, so it's best to hydrate.

Well it's not that wine rehydrates.

It's more... you get it.

So how are you?

I'm doing really well.

Thank you.

Yeah?

Yeah?

Good, because I heard... I mean, but that's great.

I mean, that's really... that's really great.

You know, I almost asked you out our first year.

You're kidding.

It's true.

I should have.

Right?

I was just too intimidated.

Oh?

Why is that?

Why?

Why?

Well, it's not just that you're beautiful.

I mean, but you are.

It's just, you're so darn smart.

There.

That's why.

Beautiful people are a dime a dozen.

And not... hey, let's face it, genuinely smart people are rare of either sex.

You know that.

But for me, I think, for me, it's your smartness more than anything else.

My smartness, Jeff?

Are you drunk?

Because your grammar's starting to suffer.

Perhaps.

I suppose, from your point of view.

Uh...

Except, think about it for a minute.

Would that possibility have even occurred to a... a not-so-smart girl?

Would a dumb girl have the sense to suspect that?

Hmm.

I suppose you're right.

See?

See?

So you proved my point and that I mean what I say, and you're not gonna blow it off as just something, you know... some kind of come-on or something like that.

Right?

'Cause that's not what I'm doing.

Oh.

Go ahead, go ahead.

I don't even have to go, really.

I'm just...

Okay.

You know...

Okay, Jeff, well, have a good night.

Have a good night.

I'm sure I'll see you around. Good night.

Good night. Good night.

The modern woman has an unprecedented amount of contradictory stuff laid on her about what she's supposed to want and how she's expected to conduct herself.

The modern woman's a mess of contradiction.

And they lay it on themselves.

It drives 'em nuts.

That's what makes it so difficult to know what they want.

Yeah, you can say that again.

Difficult but not impossible.

Baby, come on.

Open the door.

Come on, baby.

Let me in.

Hey.

How you doin'?

Baby, come on.

Open the door.

What?

Don't be ridiculous.

That was the super.


Women?

I love women.

I really do.

Oh, I love everything about them.

I can't even describe it.

Short ones, tall ones, fat ones, thin, from drop-dead to plain.

To me, hey, you know, all women are beautiful.

I can't get enough of 'em.

Some of my best friends are women.

As a child, I watched a great deal of television.

And the show I most preferred to watch was Bewitched.

It was as a child, while watching Bewitched, that I had my first erotic sensations.

Elizabeth Montgomery would perform a circular motion with her hand accompanied by the sound of a zither or harp and produce a supernatural effect in which all motion ceased and all the other characters were suddenly frozen in mid-gesture.

So it is of little wonder that my fantasy also involves supernatural powers over the women of my choosing.

For some reason, my fantasy always takes place at a gym, the gym my mother religiously attended.

So.

Right.

In my fantasy, I envision myself looking out across the floor of vigorous exercises.

And my gaze falls upon a beautiful, sensual, and athletic woman.

And she, looking up from her exercise equipment, sees me.

I beckon her to me using only my eyes, or perhaps a slight circular motion with just one finger.

And she, overpowered with erotic attraction, comes towards me.

We meet on an exercise mat at the room's exact center, she, removing the straps of her heavy clothing in a frenzy of sexual mania while my schoolboy's uniform is removed with a more controlled and amused deliberation, forcing her to wait in an agony of erotic need.

And then there is copulation in varied and distinct ways among the many other petrified, unseeing figures, for whom I have stopped time with my hand's great power!

Yeah, Sara, by the way, I think you look fantastic.

Well, thank you, Harry.

Wow.

No, it's true.

It seems that single life has just kind of kicked the sweet little Miss Cardigan right out of you.

What? No, no, I like it.

This whole Urban Outfitters, Edie Sedgwick thing works, you know?

It's kind of, like, it's edgy, but it's distinctive.

That's great.

That's exactly what I was going for.

You look good, Sara.

Thanks, Sam. Really.

Good for you.

Thank you.

Okay, all right, where was I?

Big.

Oh, right, okay.

So, I'm out with this girl, and this big, big guy, he comes over to us.

Who was it?

Nicki.

Nicki?

Wow.

No, Nicole.

Okay, whatever.

So he comes over there and he says, "You boys nowadays are all the same."

"Excuse me?"

He said, "All you smoothie type fellows go around thinking you are the Lord's own gift to the female species."

Was he black?

Yeah, actually.

Mm, racist, that's racist.

What? That's how he talked.

Finish your story.

But you want to know how to really be great, how a great lover really pleases a lady?

Now, most of these fellas haven't got the first damn clue.

Not really.

You know, a lot of them don't even care, to tell you the truth.

Now, that's your first type, right, your Joe Six-Pack cracker type fella.

Yeah, and he's like your basic pig, right?

The type that rolls on, has at her, and the minute he's done, right, he rolls off again and then commences to snoring.

But you see, these fellas are just animals.

They're not even in the same type of game that we're talking about here.

No, what we're talking about here is your basic secondary type of fella, the fella that thinks he's a great lover, your sensitive male smoothie type.

Now, what they're into is a woman's pleasure.

And giving the woman pleasure, that's this type's whole trip.

And I'm guessing from looking at you over here right now that you've been up against a smoothie a time or two, who runs down to Barnes and Noble's for all the latest female sexuality-type books, huh, right?

With the pheromone aftershave and holding and touching, and you know, about the earlobe and the back side of the knee and, and all that, with the strawberry oil and the hand massages.

But, but, will he let the little lady replicate?

Hmm?

Will he allow her to give him so much as a backrub?

No, sir, he will not, Because this type's whole trip is that he's got to be the one giving the pleasure here.

Thank you very much, ma'am.

And this, this is what gives me contempt for these guys that go around thinking that they're the Lord's own gift to the female species.

And watching them in bed is like watching when the mechanics in the white suits workin' on a Porsche.

They're all swelled up on their own expertise.

They think they're a great lover.

They think they're being generous in bed.

What they don't understand is that their type is an even worse drag for the lady with any sense than the on-and-off pig ever was, because how'd you like to just lay there and be worked on, huh, like a Porsche?

You see, that's where your smoothie types always lose the game.

They want to be the only great lover in bed.

Now, you want my opinion, huh?

You want know how to be really great, hmm?

There's only one in a thousand fellas that's figured it out.

The secret is, you've got to...

I disagree.

What?

I disagree that's it's impossible to determine what it is they really want.

I don't think I said "impossible."

Though I do agree that in today's postfeminist era it's unprecedentedly difficult and takes some serious deductive firepower and imagination.

I mean, if it was literally impossible, then where would we be as a species?

And I do agree that you can't necessarily go just by what they say they want.

'Cause they're only saying it

'cause they think they're supposed to.

The media perpetuates it.

My position is that actually most of the time you can figure out what they want, I mean, logically deduce it, if you're willing to make the effort to understand them and to understand the impossible situation they're in.

Schizophrenic media discourse, exemplified by, like, for example, Cosmo.

On one hand, get liberated.

On the other hand, make sure you find a husband.

Who wouldn't be nuts with that mess laid on them all the time in today's media culture?

The most important thing is to understand her, understand the paradox.

Damned either way.

Yup.

Mars and Venus.

I love, love, love them.

Yeah, I love to watch them move, and I love how different they all are.

I love to hear them giggle, you know, the different little sounds.

Yeah.

I love how you can never understand them and the way that you just can't keep them from shopping, no matter what you do.

Okay, ladies and gentlemen.

Today we are going to be concluding part two of the very riveting Nanook of the North.

Yes, yes, groan, groan, I know.

It actually will be a fascinating example of scientific hubris.

Pay close attention to the documenter rather than the documented.

In all the sciences the essential question is, "Why?"

All right?

Shall we do this?

Ready?

Hit the lights, please.

# Don't go changin' #

Yikes.

I'm not playing that. Come on.

No, I'm not gonna...

You figure it out. No.

You know you want to.

# Don't go changin' #

# To try and please me #

# You never let me down before #

# Mm-hmm-hmm mm-mm #

You forgot that.

# And don't imagine #

# You're too familiar #

# And I don't see you anymore #

# I would not leave you #

# In times of trouble #

# Never could've gone this far #

# Mm-hmm-hmm mm-mm #

# I took the good times #

# I'll take the bad times #

Hey, Daniel.

Good to see you. Hey, Miss Quinn.

Hello, Daniel.

I stopped by your office hours earlier this week.

You must've been...

I'm sorry, I had a personal conflict, Daniel.

I couldn't make it. Okay.

Well, I'd love to know what you thought of my paper.

Yeah, the papers will be finished tomorrow outside my office first thing in the morning.

Okay.

Well, enjoy.

It's the arm.

I can see you being all polite, not wanting to look at it.

Go ahead.

Look at it.

I don't mind.

You want to touch?

I'm just kiddin'.

No, but really, that's one of the stages of the thing, of using the Asset.

There's always a lot of girls around, you know, back there at the foundry there, at the... on the lanes.

And Jackpot... that's my best friend.

Jackpot and Kenny Kirk, they're what you would call, you know, "good-looking" guys, you know, "normal-looking," you know, "do well with the ladies," if you know what I mean, huh?

And what I do is, I go back there, and I talk to this one and that one, and eventually, I get around to the story of how I got the name Johnny One.

That's one of the stages of the thing.

We're back at her place now, you know?

Just hangin' back, you know, in her kitchenette, some such.

And usually what I'll do is, I'll go, "Oh, it's so hot in here.

"I feel like taking my shirt off, but I don't want to on account of I'm so ashamed of the arm."

Like that.

Because, you know, at this point, I'm starting to get that I'm coming off as kind of creepy, you know.

I'm starting to understand that she's seeing me as maybe some kind of a loser, but they can't back out.

You know why?

Because they've already said all this nice shit about how I shouldn't be ashamed of the arm, right, and how it couldn't possibly be that bad.

So now you're getting into your critical type stage, right, where I actually show them the arm.

Every time, sooner or later, within inside, like, five minutes of the thing, they up and they start crying.

Right.

Here I am, right, going up to them, where they're sittin', and now I'm holding them with the good side.

They're breaking down crying, and I'm next to them, holding them with the good arm going, "It's okay.

"Hey, it's okay.

"Don't cry.

"Don't be sad.

"Trusting you has made me feel so very, very special.

"And now with your help, I can go out there and not be ashamed of this arm."

And so on.

Oh, more pussy than a toilet seat, man.

I shit you not.

Go 'head and ask Jackpot and Kenny Kirk.

They'll tell you.

Kenny Kirk's the one that named it the Asset.

Go ahead and ask him.

More pussy than a toilet seat.

No, I know.

I know.

Hey, hang on a second.

Hey, no, I know.

You think I don't know that I can be moody sometimes?

Think I don't...

No, and I know that I can be withdrawn at other times, and that I can be hard to be in this with, okay?

But I just...

No, I'm not saying that this is reassuring.

What I'm saying is that I'm trying to get you to see that sometimes things ebb and flow, okay?

And that's... and sometimes people are more into it than other times, and that's just how it is.

But you, you can't stand that.

I feel like...

I feel like no ebb's allowed.

And that breaks my heart.

That just breaks my heart.

Maybe if I cared about you a little less, maybe if I loved you a little less then I could take it.

But I...

What?

Yeah, that's what the bags are for.

I'm leaving.

No!

Well, I don't think that you understand.

Wait, hey, listen.

Just try to listen for one sec.

Try to absorb what I'm gonna say to you, okay?

My leaving is not a confirmation of your fears.

It isn't.

It is because of them.

And I know that you're totally hating me for this, and I have spent a lot of time getting ready to the place where I can face you totally hating me for this.

And if you could see the look on your face...

I can.

I can see it right now.

That look on your face, if anybody could see it, they'd understand why I'm leaving.

Because this isn't exactly easy for me, either.

Okay?

Leaving you like this, seeing your face, like this is my last mental picture of you...

Can you see that I might be pretty torn up about it too?

Yeah.

Can you?

And... oh, I love it when they bat their eyes or pout, you know, when they give you that little look.

The way they look in heels, those teeny red bumps that people get when they're shaving their legs... that women get when they're shaving their legs.

I'm sorry.

I was asking if you were using this chair.

No. Go ahead.

Thanks so much.

So... Right.

I meet her at the airport.

Right, well wait.

Let me go back for a second.

So I'm last off again, as usual, and all that business like that there.

Yes, just wait and relax in your seat, be the last off.

Why everybody right away all the time has got to stand up as soon as it comes to a stop and cram into the aisles so you just stand there...

Wait. Just wait. Just wait.

So finally, coming out into baggage and the whole transportation shit show there...

Yeah, still always depressing to come out in baggage on these cold calls and see everybody getting met with the squeals and the hugs and the limo guys with the names on the cardboard...

Just stop.

Shut it for one fucking second, will you, please?

Because, it's mostly emptied out by the time I get out there.

Except for over by... there's this one girl left.

She's peering through the glass doors down the Jetway thing.

Our eyes meet and all that business like that there.

And what... she... she up and goes down on her knees.

She drops, crying, slapping the carpet, bent over so you can, you know, just about see her tits, totally hysterical, with the waterworks and all that business like that there.

Another cheery welcome to Dayton for your fucking cold calls.

"Hey, we'd like to welcome you to Dayton."

No!

It's a story, a story.

It turns out when I, you know, go over to say, "Are you okay?

Is anything the matter?"

And like that.

And get a better shot of, I got to tell you, some pretty fuckin' incredible tits.

Wait.

She's all down and bent over.

She says, "I'm in love with this guy."

And he said that he was in love with her too, except he was already engaged from priorly.

So already there's all this back and forth and storm and drag.

And I'm lending the ear to her, you know.

Right, right And she says, but finally, the guy gets off the fence.

And he says he's gonna surrender to his love for this girl here with the tits and that he's gonna go back and tell this other girl in Tulsa, where he's from, break it off, and commit to this hysterical girl with the tits, who feels like finally, for chrissakes, after all the one-track shitheels she'd got the runaround from, finally here at last she's met a guy she can trust and love and merge souls with and the whole sort of violins, hearts, flowers...

And blah, blah, blah.

And blah.

So, off the guy goes flying back to Tulsa.

Then he puts his hand over his heart and swears he's coming back to her, and he'll be on that plane there with the flight number and time.

And she swears she'll be there with the tits, to meet him.

Yeah.

We can't see that one coming.

And she says how he even called her.

It rings.

It's this guy.

There's all this static and hiss on the phone.

He says he's calling her from the sky, is how romantically he puts it.

Calling her in flight on one of the little phone thing there.

Hey, you know what?

The markup on those things goes six bucks a minute.

It's a racket. That's not the point.

Do you want to hear this or not?

That's not the point.

This girl says how she gets there early in the baggage area and already with some of the waterworks from love and violins.

And it gets in finally, the flight.

And they... we... all in the big rush out the Jetway thing.

He's not in the first wave out.

He's not in the second wave out, how they come out.

Jesus, I ought to... the amount of fucking time I spend in baggage.

And says like a pathetic, a total fool, her faith never faltering, she just kept peering during all the hugging and everybody meeting and every time expecting this guy.

Waiting.

Poor little muttski.

But then at the end there, I come off.

Last off, as usual.

That bastard even must have faked the phone call.

The static, if you run your Remington, it'll make static.

And I am telling you, you have never seen anybody so the word "heartbroken."

You think it's just words, blah, blah.

But then you see this girl with this hand knocking herself in the head for being such a fool, crying so hard she can't mostly breathe and all that business like that.

And how men are shits, and don't even trust 'em.

Men are mostly shits.

It's true.

It's true.

Most guys are shit.

My heart...

My heart's going out to this poor girl.

Heh, heh.

"Heh, heh"?

You got to ask?

You shitheel.

What?

What am I gonna do? You bastard.

You know.

You shitheel.

click!

Hence, the timeless importance of passion.

Women want to be both irresponsible and passionate.

No.

What they want is to experience a passion that is so powerful and irresistible that it obliterates any guilt or tension that they may have about betraying their perceived responsibilities.

And deep down, they all want to be irresponsible.

Deep down, they want a man who's gonna be so passionate and powerful that they have no choice.

This thing is bigger than both of them.

You shitheel!

The hell with it, right?

For science, right?

I'm sorry, that is what this is, right, science?

It'll be used for... oh, never mind, never mind.

You know what you're doing.

Hey.


You cut your hair.

It looks good.

Sweetie, we need to talk.

We've needed to for a while.

I have.

I mean, I feel like...

Can you sit?

Sweetie, my relationship record indicates a guy who's bad news.

You see, I have a history, a pattern, so to speak of coming on very fast and hard in the beginning of a relationship, of saying "I love you" very early on.

It's not as if how many of them I've said it to is not an understandable question or concern, but if it's all right, it's just... it's just not what I'm trying to talk to you about.

So I want to hold off on things like names or numbers and just try to be honest with you about what my concerns are, 'cause I care about you a great deal.

I'm not explaining this well.

I'm not getting through.

I'm really starting to freak out.

And I know it's insecure, but it's very important to me that you believe that I have meant it absolutely every time I told you that I loved you, every time.

And I know I should've told you some of all this about me sooner, before you moved all the way out here, which, believe me, meant so... it made me feel you really cared about this, especially because your moving out here was something I lobbied so hard for.

School, your apartment, having to get rid of your cat, Stitches, Snookers, Mr. Fluffy.

And I know... I know a better guy probably would've told you about this before we even slept together.

And despite how incredibly magical and ecstatic and right it was...

Can you imagine what it takes to tell you this, that I'm terrified, that it's even possible that the pattern of sending out mixed signals and pulling away is just another way of pulling away?

Maybe deep down, I'm such a coward that I can't pull away myself, so I somehow force you into doing it.

Those are valid, totally understandable questions, sweetie.

There's just one more thing I feel like I have to tell you about first, though.

God, I am terrified to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you.

Can you do me a favor and sort of brace yourself and promise not to react for a few seconds after I tell you?

Can you promise?

Can you promise?

Can you promise?

Can you promise?

Maybe we should talk later.

I've got a rehearsal for this thing, and think I have a break for a couple hours if you wanted to... you know what?

I'll call you.

I'm here if you need me.

Okay?

Why?

Why did you do it?

How could you do it?

That's all I ever get, is this face, this remorseful face of yours.

You had the same face when you left.

You just stood there with this look.

What?

You fucking coward.

You are all cowards.

You say you were unfaithful.

You say you're sorry.

You say you can't imagine how much it must hurt.

And I can't.

Try.

Try.

Well, call him and see if he'II, you know, set up something.

But it needs to be soon, I would think, right?

Yeah.

Okay.

Bye.

Professor?

Oh, Sara.

Hi.

I hope I'm not disturbing you.

No, no, no.

Please, come in.

Just grab the door.

This okay?

Yeah. How are you?

Fine, thanks. I was just... that was my wife.

She's... her mother's kind of going through a little... anyway, it's kind of hard on her.

That's... gosh, I'm so sorry.

Oh, no, no, no, no.

I don't mean to make a big deal...

No, no, it's okay.

I mean, it's gonna be fine.

No, my wife, she's an extraordinary woman.

Yeah.

She's... I've been married for 21 years, and my wife is just so beautiful, just a beautiful woman.

How'd you meet her?

That's funny.

I was just thinking about that, the day I met her.

Yeah, I was thinking about this moment, and, it was such a long time ago, you know, and I was so young.

And I was thinking... and this was a big reason for marrying her... thinking that I was likely not gonna do better than this, you know, because of the way she looked.

I mean she was so beautiful, that just... even after she had a kid, by the way.

So and I thought, "God, you know,"...

'cause I had always had this major dread when I was, you know, before I got married that, you know, that I'd marry some amazing woman, beautiful woman and everything, and then she'd change, you know, that she would get pregnant.

And then it would change her and, you know...

And I'd have to convince myself, "No, no, this is who you signed up with.

"This is who you're gonna spend the rest of your life with.

"This is who you're gonna be with for the whole rest of your life."

God, this just sounds terrible, so shallow.

Doesn't it?

But I looked at her, and she was beautiful, and she was a mother.

And, you know, I remember thinking, "This is amazing, because it's like she's already, you know, pretested."

Yeah, pretested.

And, I thought... I actually thought about that.

I thought that.

And I...

Is it shallow?

Does it sound shallow?

Or do you think the truth behind this kind of thing will always sound shallow, you know, everybody's real reasons?

Crab cake?

Hey, Miss Quinn.

I stopped by your office hours earlier this week.

You must've been... but I'd love to know what you thought of my paper.

All right, listen, that's just ridiculous.

Well, I'm sorry, Harry, but that is my opinion you're stepping on.

Well, the holidays are a chance to have fun.

You know, this whole moral oppression thing is fuckin' lame.

Harry. What?

I don't need to be guilted into analyzing my whole year's actions.

Wow.

You know, I'll change when I want to change.

It doesn't have to be in December, you know?

It just feels forced.

Okay, and you got all this from a kid's show?

But it's television, for God's sake.

You know?

I want to watch people revel and be merry, you know?

I want to watch pretty things and, like, funny things and, like, singy things.

Oh.

Singy things?

No, hey, I want to learn how to revel.

Please, sign me up. Which hall?

Where're we... where're we doing that?

What's the argument? It's nothing.

No, it's not nothing.

No, I'm probably just tired.

Tired or depressed.

I'm not depressed. I'm not depressed.

Not clinically.

Are you okay?

I'm fine.

It's just, the holidays are always weird for me.

Well, the holidays in general, or...

Okay, you know, is it weird to get so depressed watching a children's Christmas special...

Oh, wait, I shouldn't say that.

I mean, that's not a good word.

It's not just "sadness," the way one feels sad at a film or a funeral.

It's more of a plummeting quality.

Or the way, you know, the way that light gets in winter just before dusk, or the way she is with me.

All right, at the height of lovemaking, you know, the very height, when she's starting to climax, and she's really responding to you now, you know, her eyes widening in that way that's both, you know, surprise and recognition, which not a woman alive could fake or feign if you really look intently at her, really see her.

And I don't know, this moment has this piercing sadness to it, of the loss of her in her eyes.

And as her eyes, you know, widen to their widest point and as she begins to climax and arch her back, they close.

You know, shut, the eyes do.

And I can tell that she's closed her eyes to shut me out.

You know, I become like an intruder.

And behind those closed lids, you know, her eyes are now rolled all the way around and staring intently inward into some void where I, who sent them, can't follow.

It's the ones that act all understanding, like they don't care, and it's okay, and they understand, and it doesn't matter, that embarrass me the most, because it is so fucking weird to yell, "Victory for the forces of democratic freedom," when you're shooting off that I can tell they're totally freaked out and just condescending down to me and pretending they understand.

And it's those... those are the ones where actually...

I actually end up almost getting pissed off and don't even feel embarrassed not calling them or totally avoiding them...

The ones that say, "I think I could love you anyway."

Imagine not existing until a man needs you...

Being there and yet not there.

The face he wore in the men's room, he couldn't take it off.

Six days a week, he stood there, Saturdays a double shift.

The sounds.

How do you forget the unmistakable sounds of urine into water, the rustle of newspapers in the stalls, the rumble of the toilet paper dispensers?

All sounds magnified, reverberating slightly.

This was my father's environment.

Top-rated historical hotel in the state.

The finest lobby, the single finest men's room between the two coasts, surely: marble shipped from Italy, stall doors of seasoned cherry, scalloped basins, opulent and echoing, all sounds amplified by the tile and Florentine stone.

The odors, all the odors, odors as environment, all day, nine hours a day, standing there in Good Humor white.

It's what he stands in.

Sonic center, The place where the shine stand used to be, the place designed for him to stand.

Just outside of the large mirror's frame by the sink, a continuous sink of marble, leaves of gold foil around the fixtures and mirrors.

This is his occupation.

This is his career.

He takes their briefcase and their topcoats, guards them, remembers without asking whose is whose, speaking as little as possible in all those acoustics, appearing at men's elbows to hand them a towel.

This is my father's career.

Why this?

Why this tradition?

Large opulent room for men of business, substantial men, men with places to go and people to see.

Men of substance who flush the toilet with their feet, men who will touch fixtures only with tissue, men who blow their nose in the sinks and walks off without rinsing.

The door tells the whole story.

"Men."

The task is to stand there as if you are not there.

Not really.

There's a trick.

You hear everything, some tapping, some humming, some speaking aloud to themselves, forgetting they are not alone.

Imagine to attend, to see men of substance at their most elemental.

This is his career, a career man.

And, yes, do I admire the fortitude of this humblest of working men, stoicism, the old-world grit, standing there all these years, never a day sick, serving?

Or do I despise him?

You're wondering.

Feel disgust?

Men who tip, men who do not tip, millionaires who don't wash their hands, heirs who steal towels, tycoons who pick their noses with their thumb, philanthropists who throw cigar butts on the floor, self-made men who spit in the sink.

Plain white shirt and white pants and white shoes he'd have to throw out if so much as a spot...

He bleached his work clothes himself and ironed them.

Never a word of complaint.

Food on the table, a roof, children to educate.

A double shift, if I could.

His arches would swell from the standing.

He showered three times daily, scrubbed himself raw.

But the job still followed him.

Never a word.

Every morning up at 6:00.

Kiss you all good-bye.

A piece of toast for the bus.

He stands there when it's empty too.

I haven't seen my father since 1978.

And I know he's still there, all in white, standing, averting his eyes to preserve their dignity.

I wear nothing white, not one white thing.

I eliminate in silence or not at all.

I tip.

I never forget someone is there.

Hi.

Hello, Daniel.

Is there something I can help you with?

Yeah, well, I finally got my paper back.

I was wondering whether we could talk about it.

Well, Daniel, right now I'm actually in the middle of my own research.

What didn't you like?

I'm sorry?

Which parts didn't you like?

Daniel, it's not that I didn't like it.

My comments are based more on your presentation.

What does that mean, my presentation?

Did it upset you?

Did it what?

No, it didn't upset me.

It certainly was provocative, but that's never bad.

And certain points you made were...

Which was your favorite?

My favorite?

Well, I think it's important for me to know which parts of the paper pushed the limits.

I don't want to be accused of doing something just for shock value.

Okay.

"Who are we to say getting incested or abused or violated

"or any of those things can't also have their positive aspects in the long run?"

Now, that's shocking, especially as a woman.

See, you... you misunderstood what I was saying.

Look, I guess all I was trying to say is, you have to be careful of taking a knee-jerk attitude.

I think a knee-jerk attitude to anything is a mistake, especially in the case of women, where it adds up to this very limited and condescending thing of saying they're fragile, breakable things that can be destroyed easily.

Everybody gets hurt and violated and broken sometimes.

Why are women so special?

Not that anybody ever ought to be raped or abused.

Nobody's saying that.

But that's while it's going on.

What about afterwards?

All I'm saying is, there are certain cases where it can enlarge you or make you more of a complete human being, like Victor Frankl.

What?

Well think about the Holocaust.

Daniel, that's...

Was the Holocaust a good thing? No way.

Does anybody think that it was good that it happened?

No, of course not.

But did you read Victor Frankl, Victor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning?

It's a great, great book.

But it comes out of his experience.

It's about his experience in the human dark side.

Now, think about it.

If there was no Holocaust, there'd be no Man's Search For Meaning.

Why don't we talk about this at office hours?

Hi, Miss Quinn... Daniel, I'm...

You said to meet at office hours.

I'm in the middle of work.

You can't just walk right into the room.

I just want to know why you hate it so much.

Fine.

I thought it was easy.

I thought your claims about women were wild and incendiary, and I think you absolutely wrote it for shock value.

And quite frankly, I'm not interested in discussing any further some paper that exemplifies some pent-up, overdeveloped teen angst.

I'm impressed my paper got to you like that.

Daniel, I don't think you understand.

There is no point.

No one cares.

Careful.

That's not true.

Think about it.

Think about what?

About being degraded and brought to within an inch of your life, for example.

No one's gonna say the sick bastards that did it shouldn't be put in jail.

But let's put two things into perspective here.

One is, afterwards, she knows something about herself that she never knew before.

All I'm saying is, there are certain cases where it can enlarge you.

What she knows is that the most totally terrible, terrifying thing that she could ever have imagined happening to her has now happened.

And she survived.

She's still here.

Make you more of a complete human being, like Victor Frankl.

And now she knows something.

I mean, she really, really knows.

Now, that's shocking, especially as a woman.

No.

See, I'm disappointed in you.

That's what I'm talking about, the knee-jerk attitude, Taking everything I say and filtering it through your narrow view of the world.

Look, totally terrible things happen.

Now, you want my opinion?

Existence and life break people in all kinds of awful fucking ways all the time.

Trust me, I know.

I've been there.

And this is the big difference, you and me here, because this isn't about politics or feminism or whatever.

For you, this is just ideas.

You've never been there.

Sara.

Can I talk to you a sec?

I'm not saying nothing bad has ever happened to you.

You're not bad-looking.

I'm sure there's been some sort of degradation or whatever come your way in life.

But I'm talking Victor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning type violation and terror and suffering here, the real dark side.

Daniel came into my office today.

Professor, let me explain...

He said that he was looking to talk to you about his paper.

I can tell from just looking at you, you never.

Wouldn't even wear what you're wearing.

Trust me.

Listen, I just wanted you to know that I'm taking care of it.

I basically told him to, you know, give it another shot.

I know how persistent he can be.

Miss Quinn.

Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you.

There's just one more thing I feel like I have to tell you about first, though.

What if I told you it was my own sister that was raped?

What if I told you a little story about a 16-year-old girl who went to the wrong party with the wrong guy and four of his buddies that ended up doing to her just about everything four guys could do to you in terms of violation.

"Here we go, bitch.

Here we go!"

But if you could ask her if she could go into her head and, and forget it or, like, erase the tape of it happening in her memory, what do you think she'd say?

Are you so sure what she'd say?

That's while it's going on.

What about afterwards?

What if she said that even after that, totally negative as what happened was, at least now she understood it was possible.

People can.

Can what?

Can see you as a thing, that people can see you as a thing.

Do you know what that means?

Men are mostly shits.

It's true.

Because if you can really just see somebody as a thing, you can do anything to him.

And I know, I know a better guy probably would've told you about this before we even slept together.

What would it be like to be able to be like that?

You see, you think you can imagine it, but you can't.

But she can.

And now she knows something.

Sorry.

I tried calling earlier.

I mean she really, really knows.

You cut your hair.

It looks good.

This is what you wanted to hear.

You wanted to hear about four drunk guys who knee jerked you in the balls to make you bend over that you didn't even know, that you never saw before, that you never did anything to, that don't even know your name, that don't even know your name, to find out you have to choose to have a fucking name.

You have no fucking idea!

And what if I said that happened to me?

Would that make a difference?

Why don't we talk about this at office hours?

Okay.

Office hours this week?

Yes.

Good luck.

What does today's woman want?

They want to be autonomous.

Basically, it's all still an elaborate semiotic code.

And the only way not to get lost in the code is to approach the whole issue logically.

They want you to understand the bind that they're in.

Wait.

I want to...

I don't mean any of this in just another Neanderthal male trying to put women down 'cause he's too insecure.

And I'd go to the wall to defend them against any scorn or culpability for a situation which is clearly not their fault.

You can go nuts trying to figure out which tack to take.

I mean, they might go for it. They might not.

Today's woman is a total mess.

I don't suppose you know where the little wranglers' room is in this place, do you?

The solution is to understand today's woman.

I mean, 'cause it's getting time to answer Nature's page, if you know what I mean.

The solution is to realize that today's woman is in an impossible situation and wants what any human being faced with two conflicting sets of responsibilities is gonna want: a way out.

An escape hatch.

A passionate male.

They want to be overwhelmed with passion.

When they say, "I am responsible for my own sexuality;

"I am my own person;

I don't need a man," what they really are telling you is what they want you to make them forget, which is... what they're telling you is what they want you to make them forget.

They want...

Thank you.


Hey.

I decided to get help.

I got in touch with the fact that the problem had nothing to do with her.

I saw that she would forever go on playing victim to my villain.

I was...

I was powerless to change her.

Mind if I turn this on?

No.

Great. Thanks.

Sure.

My own father was, you might say, a man who was, by natural proclivity, not a good man but who nevertheless tried diligently to be a good man, temper and so forth.

My father's proclivity for rage grew over a period of time.

And eventually, he resorted, after periods of unsuccessful counseling, to the practice of handcuffing his own wrists behind his back whenever he would lose his temper with any of us.

This self-restraint eventually progressed over a period of years, such that the more enraged he might become with any of us, the more coercively he began to restrain himself.

Often the day would end with the poor man hogtied on the living room floor, screaming furiously at us, trying to get the gag in without getting bitten.

Whatever possible use that piece of history might be to anyone not privileged to have been there.

And now I look at her, and I promised myself as a kid...

I told myself I would love my woman.

And even now... and I try so hard.

And she's the one... she... she always says that she can save me.

And I think, "There's no excuse."

I know that.

I think, "I have promised myself to this woman.

I have promised to love her."

But whatever.

Now we can explain my proclivities and trace their origins and have it all tied up all nice and tight and tidy for you.

Can't we?

No, wait.

I know it may sound ridiculous, but I know that she can.

Can what?

Save you.

You don't know what I've done.

Do you want me to start it for you?

It was a large outdoor concert community festival thing.

Stop. And then you saw her there...

Stop!

Sitting on a blanket with her amused expression.

Stop. And then you fucked her.

Stop! I got all of that.

But there has to be something more.

I don't understand.

How could you do it?

We were in love.

No, we weren't.

Look, Sara, I know you.

I'm aware of how all this sounds and can well imagine the judgments you're forming.

But if I'm really to explain this to you then I have no choice but to be candid.

Yes, it was a pickup.

Plain and simple.

And she was what one might call a granola cruncher, a hippie.

And she was straight out of central casting: the sandals, flamboyantly long hair, financial support from parents she reviled, and some professed membership in a apostrophe-heavy Eastern religion that I would defy anyone to pronounce correctly.

Look, I'll just bite the political bullet and confess that I classified her as a strictly one-night objective, and that my interest in her was due almost entirely to the fact that, yes, she was pretty.

She was sexually attractive.

She was sexy.

And it was really nothing more complicated or noble than that.

And having had some prior dealings with the cruncher genus, I think the one-night proviso was due mostly to the grim unimaginability of having to talk with her for more than one night.

Whether or not you approve, I think we can assume you understand.

And there's something in the way, I mean, a near contempt in the way that you can casually saunter over to her blanket and create the sense of connection that will allow you to pick her up.

And you almost resent the fact that it's so goddamn easy.

I mean, how exploitative you feel that it is so easy to get this type to regard you as a kindred soul.

I mean, you almost know what's going to be said before she even opens her mouth.

Okay.

So now, there we are in my apartment, and she begins going on about her religious views, her obscure denomination's views on energy fields and connections between souls via what she kept calling "focus."

And in response to some sort of prompt or association, she begins to relate this anecdote.

And in the anecdote, there she is, hitchhiking.

Well, she said she knew she made a mistake the moment she got in the car.

Her explanation was that she didn't actually feel any energy field until she had shut the car's door and they were moving, at which point it was too late.

And she wasn't melodramatic about it, but she described herself as literally paralyzed with terror.

It was something about his eyes.

She said she knew instantly in the depths of her soul that this man's intentions were to brutally rape, torture, and kill her and that by the time the psychotic had exited into a secluded area and actually said what his true intentions were, she wasn't the least bit surprised, because she knew that she was going to be just another grisly discovery for some amateur botanist or scout troop a few days later, unless she could focus her way into a soul connection that would prevent this man from murdering her.

I mean, to focus intently on this psychotic as an ensouled and beautiful, albeit tormented person, in his own right rather than merely as a threat to her.

And I'm well aware that what she is about describe is nothing more than a variant of the stale old "love will conquer all."

But for the moment, just bracket your contempt and try to see what she actually has the courage and conviction to really attempt here, because imagine what it must have felt like for her, for anyone.

Contemplate just how little-kid-level scared you'd be... that this psychotic could bring you to this point simply by wishing it.

And now here she is, in the car.

And she's realizing that she's in for the biggest struggle of her spiritual life.

She stares directly into the psychopath's right eye and wills herself to keep her gaze on him directly at all times.

And the effects of her focus, she says that when she was able to hold her focus, the psychopath behind the wheel would gradually stop ranting and become tensely silent.

And she wills herself not to weep or plead but merely to use focus as an opportunity to empathize.

And this was my first hint of sadness in listening to the anecdote, 'cause I found myself admiring certain qualities in her story that were the same qualities I had been contemptuous of when I first picked her up in the park.

And then he asks her to get out of the car and lie prone on the ground.

And she doesn't hesitate or beg.

She was experiencing a whole new depth of focus.

She said she could hear the tick of the cooling car, bees, birds.

Imagine the temptation to despair in the sound of carefree birds only yards from where you lay breathing in the weeds.

And in this heightened state, she said she could feel the psychotic realizing the truth of the situation at the same time she did.

When he came over to her and turned her over, he was crying.

And she claimed it took no effort of will to hold him as he wept as he raped her.

She just stared into his eyes lovingly the entire time.

She stayed where he left her all day in the gravel, weeping and giving thanks to her religious principles.

She wept out of gratitude, she says.

Well, I don't mind telling you.

I had begun to cry at the story's climax.

Not loudly, but I did.

She had learned more about love that day with the sex offender than in any other stage of her spiritual journey.

And I realized in that moment that I had never loved anyone before.

She had addressed the psychotic's core weakness, the terror of a soul-exposing connection with another human being.

Nor is any of this all that different than a man sizing up an attractive girl at a concert and pushing all the right buttons to induce her to come home with him and lighting her cigarettes and engaging in an hour of post-coital chitchat, seemingly very content and close.

But what he really wants to do is give her a special disconnected telephone number and never contact her again.

And that the reason for this cold and victimizing behavior is that the very connection that he had worked so hard to make her feel terrifies him.

Do you see how open I'm being with you here?


Well, I know I'm not telling you anything that you haven't already decided that you know.

I can see you forming judgments, with that chilly smile.

You're not the only one who can read people, you know.

And you know what?

It's because of her influence that I am more sad for you than pissed off, because the impact of this story was profound, and I'm not even gonna begin to describe it to you.

Can you imagine how any of this felt, to look at her sandals across the room on the floor and remember what I had thought of them only hours before?

And I'd say her name and she'd say, "What?"

And I'd say her name again.

Well, I'm not embarrassed.

I don't care how this sounds to you now.

I mean, can you see how I could not just let her go after this?

I just, I grabbed onto her skirt and I begged her not to leave.

And then I watched her gently close the door and walk off barefoot down the hall and never seeing her again.

That it didn't matter that she was fluffy or not terribly bright... nothing else mattered.

She had all of my attention.

I had fallen in love with her.

I believed that she could save me.

Well, I'm aware of how all this sounds.

I can see that look on your face.

And I know you.

And I know what you're thinking.

So ask it.

Ask it now.

This is your chance.

"I believe she could save me," I said.

Ask it now.

Say something!

I stand here naked before you.

Judge me, you bitch.

You happy now?

You all borne out?

Well, be happy, because I don't care.

I knew she could.

And I knew I loved.

End of story.


Okay, what do we got?

I've been looking in completely the wrong place.

You've been look... what do you mean?

My research in studying the effects of the feminist movement.

It's redundant.

Everybody knows how it affected women.

I think the real opportunity to learn something is in looking at men.

Okay, I'll buy that.

So, I want to set up interviews.

I want to get primary research.

I want to hear it.

Sara, listen, you and I both know that the review board, they can be killers if they find someone's work to be frivolous or impulsive, and everyone's gonna want to know why.

Because I don't think the truth about men can be found in a book.

The real impact is specific.

And I feel like if I can get a few of these men to open up with real stories about their desires and their fears, then I can begin to get answers.

Okay, and what is it you want answers to?

Well...

No, I don't need to know.

But you do.


# Every man I fall for #

# drinks his coffee black #

# "Love" and "hate" are tattooed on his knuckles #

# and my name is on his back #

# Every man I fall for #

# works the graveyard shift #

# He kisses me softly to wake me up #

# and takes my place in bed #

# And I fall #

# I live with one concern #

# It's the law #

# Diminishing returns #

# It's the law #

# Diminishing returns #

# Every man I fall for keeps his anger #

# on a string and holds it tight #

# When other men walk by blinking their eyes at me #

# he always pick a fight #

# I go walk alone down Ocean Boulevard #

# peek in your windows #

# Tired housewives nagging at their husbands #

# But is this the life you chose? #

# And I fall #

# I live with one concern #

# It's the law #

# Diminishing returns #

# And I fall #

# I live with one concern #

# It's the law #

# Diminishing returns #

# Every man I fall for #

# nearly every man #

# Every man I fall for #

# nearly every man #