About six months after I continued to remain happy and childless, I saw a woman sitting with her son on a blanket. Her name, I later discovered, was Lori and she was there with her friend Caitlin. It was a sunny summer weekend, and there were parents and kids picnicking nearby.
The day had been going fine, until Lori started checking out my ass in a really intense way. Which was odd, because I have an okay ass. Nothing to write home about. I guess it was an ass you could settle for. Of course, when pressed, I can shake my booty as well as anybody else. Still, it was somewhat disheartening to have someone checking out my ass without even having the courtesy to introduce herself.
“Excuse me,” said Lori. “Are you married?”
“What? Why, no,” I said.
“Do you shout ‘Bravo!’ in movie theaters?”
“Sometimes. When it’s an action movie.”
She introduced herself. She then asked if she could smell my breath. I told her that I needed one minute to suck on a breath mint. She told me that breath mints weren’t necessary. I informed her that her request was quite unusual. And she then grabbed the roll of BreathSavers out of my hand and stomped my mints into chalky powder. She insisted that I had halitosis. This was not true.
“Hey, you owe me a buck for those BreathSavers!”
“I want a husband,” she said.
“What for? What do you really long for?”
“An angle for this Atlantic article I’m writing. Well, actually, a husband. I’m very worried about that. Every single woman I know feels panic about this. I need to marry and reproduce.”
I then noticed that she was taking notes.
“You know, you don’t need a husband to be happy,” I said. “Mr. Right often comes along when you least expect it.”
“I need a husband now.”
Lori didn’t blink as she said this. I was starting to get an Ira Levin vibe.
“Yeah, and I’d love to write for The New Yorker. It’ll probably never happen. But that doesn’t stop me from writing or living.”
“You don’t understand. I need a husband now.”
“Well, if that’s the case, go get one.”
I started to walk away. I considered calling 911. Lori was starting to give me the creeps. There was a wild look in her eyes.
“Will you be my husband?”
I was unnerved by Lori. I knew many well-adjusted single women in their thirties and forties who were living fantastic lives. And they were doing this entirely without partners.
“Are you The One?”
“No!” I shouted.
She then consulted a complicated Powerpoint presentation on her laptop. There was a red text box with the words MUST MARRY MAN NOW! flashing in bright white text.
“Are you my soul mate?”
“Look, Lori, I don’t know you, but I think you need help.”
“I need to marry somebody. Someone who can help me pop out 1.2 children from my uterus. Will you marry me and help me pop out 1.2 children? I have one son. I need 1.2 more so that I can live the perfect dream. Are you Mr. Good Enough?”
“I’m Mr. Champion.”
Lori then complained to her friend Caitlin that I wasn’t cooperating. Caitlin suggested that they should go home and watch the final episode of Friends to get some additional ideas for Lori’s article. And that was the last I saw of them.
I didn’t understand Lori’s problem. If only she would stop with the whole “I need a husband” nonsense and accept that life happens when you make other plans, maybe she might get her wish.
But it was good to meet someone who wrote for The Atlantic. I was pretty sure that Lori would read a few books on the subject, talk to some noted experts on relationships and human behavior, cite a few studies, and write a very thoughtful article without a single generalization about gender. After all, The Atlantic was a respected magazine that attracted only the best writers.