Roger and Elaine: A Love Story
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 aloud: ''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, some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of 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 goddamn 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. God, 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 goddamn 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 God, 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 hunger.)
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?''
"Eighty-four! Because at that age, you don't
have to work anymore, and
you can spend all your time loving each other in your bedroom."
"Once I'm done with kindergarten, I'm going
to find me a wife!"
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE??
"On the first date, they just tell each other
lies, and that usually
gets them interested enough to go for a second date."
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE??
"You should never kiss a girl unless you
have enough bucks to buy her a
big ring and her own VCR, 'cause she'll want to have videos of the
"Never kiss in front of other people. It's
a big embarrassing thing if
anybody sees you. But if nobody sees you, I might be willing to try it
with a handsome boy, but just for a few hours."
THE GREAT DEBATE: IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED??
"It's better for girls to be single but not
for boys. Boys need somebody
to clean up after them!"
"It gives me a headache to think about that
stuff. I'm just a kid. I
don't need that kind of trouble."
CONCERNING WHY LOVE HAPPENS BETWEEN TWO
"No one is sure why it happens, but I heard
it has something to do with
how you smell. That's why perfume and deodorant are so popular."
"I think you're supposed to get shot with
an arrow or something, but the
rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful."
ON WHAT FALLING IN LOVE IS LIKE
"Like an avalanche where you have to run
for your life."
"If falling in love is anything like learning
how to spell, I don't want
to do it. It takes too long."
ON THE ROLE OF GOOD LOOKS IN LOVE
"If you want to be loved by somebody who
isn't already in your family,
it doesn't hurt to be beautiful."
"It isn't always just how you look. Look
at me. I'm handsome like
anything and I haven't got anybody to marry me yet."
"Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are
can last a long time."
CONCERNING WHY LOVERS OFTEN HOLD HANDS
"They want to make sure their rings don't
fall off because they paid
good money for them."
CONFIDENTIAL OPINIONS ABOUT LOVE
"I'm in favor of love as long as it doesn't
happen when 'The Simpsons'
is on television."
"Love will find you, even if you are trying
to hide from it. I have
been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding
"I'm not rushing into being in love. I'm
finding fourth grade hard
THE PERSONAL QUALITIES NECESSARY TO BE A GOOD LOVER
"One of you should know how to write a check.
Because, even if you have
tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills."
SOME SUREFIRE WAYS TO MAKE A PERSON FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU
"Tell them that you own a whole bunch of
"Don't do things like have smelly, green
sneakers. You might get
attention, but attention ain't the same thing as love."
"One way is to take the girl out to eat.
Make sure it's something
she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me."
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF TWO ADULTS EATING
DINNER AT A
RESTAURANT ARE IN LOVE?
"Just see if the man picks up the check.
That's how you can tell if
he's in love."
"Lovers will just be staring at each other
and their food will get cold.
Other people care more about the food."
"It's love if they order one of those desserts
that are on fire. They
like to order those because it's just like how their hearts are...on
WHAT MOST PEOPLE ARE THINKING WHEN THEY SAY "I LOVE YOU"
"The person is thinking: Yeah, I really do
love him. But I hope he
showers at least once a day."
HOW A PERSON LEARNS TO KISS
"You learn it right on the spot when the
gooshy feelings get the best
"It might help to watch soap operas all day."
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
"It's never okay to kiss a boy. They always
slobber all over
you...That's why I stopped doing it."
HOW TO MAKE LOVE ENDURE
"Spend most of your time loving instead of
going to work."
"Don't forget your wife's name...That will
mess up the love."
"Be a good kisser. It might make your wife
forget that you never take
out the trash."
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