Monday, July 16, 2012

Roger and Elaine by Dave Barry

On the differences between men and women... Let's say a guy named Roger is
attracted to a woman named Elaine.

He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few
nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves.
They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of
them is seeing anybody else. And then, one evening when they're driving
home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it

"Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for
exactly six months?" And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it
seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it
bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our
relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of
obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of
relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space so I'd have
time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are,
moving steadily toward ... I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to
keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward
marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that
level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: ... so that means it was... let's see.... February
when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the
dealer's, which means ... lemme check the odometer ... Whoa! I am way
overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm
reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship,
more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed-even before I sensed
it-that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why
he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of
being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission
again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right.
And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold
weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a darn garbage
truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry,
too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I
feel. I'm just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty.
That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight
to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a
perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care
about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain
because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a
darn warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up their ....

"Roger," Elaine says aloud. "What?" says Roger, startled. "Please don't
torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning to brim with
tears. "Maybe I should never have ... Oh my, I feel so ..." (She breaks
down, sobbing.) "What?" says Roger. "I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean,
I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight,
and there's no horse." "There's no horse?" says Roger. "You think I'm a
fool, don't you?" Elaine says. "No!" says Roger, glad to finally know the
correct answer. "It's just that ... It's that I ... I need some time,"
Elaine says. (There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he
can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one
that he thinks might work.) "Yes," he says. (Elaine, deeply moved, touches
his hand.) "Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?" she says. "What way?"
says Roger. "That way about time," says Elaine. "Oh," says Roger. "Yes."
(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to
become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves
a horse. At last she speaks.) "Thank you, Roger," she says. "Thank you,"
says Roger. Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted,
tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his
place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes
deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he
never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that
something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure
there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better
if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Roger's policy regarding world

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them,
and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In
painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he
said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression,
and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification.
They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe
months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored
with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of
his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: "Norm, did
Elaine ever own a horse?"

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