We meet Nate on the streets of New York rushing to a dinner party hosted by his ex-girlfriend Elisa. On the way, he runs into Juliet, a woman he dated three times; until she got pregnant and then he “thoughtfully” paid for her abortion, spent the day with her, got her ice cream and a prescription and then dumped her. Nate very nearly cannot believe that Juliet fails to recognize how thoughtful he was.
Nevertheless, he had done everything that could have been
expected of him. Even though he had less money than she did, he
paid for the abortion. He went with her to the clinic and waited
while it was being performed, sitting on a stain- resistant, dormitory
lounge– style couch with a rotating cast of teenage girls who
typed frenetically on their cell phones’ tiny keyboards. When it
was over, he took her home in a taxi. They spent a pleasant,
strangely companionable day together, at her place, watching
movies and drinking wine. He left the apartment only to pick up
her prescription and bring her a few groceries. When, fi nally,
around nine, he got up to go home, she followed him to the door.
Why would Juliet not be overjoyed to see him? Once at Elisa’s, despite her frenetic propensity to rehash their relationship on each occasion they interact, Nate meets his next girlfriend, the seemingly sensible Hannah Leary. By the time Hannah has decided to accept the third date from Nate, I was screaming at her to run. Run far and fast away.
Adelle Waldman, a woman incidentally, says she wanted Nate to “represent the creative man-child as accurately as possible: as someone who is at moments surprisingly sensitive and yet seems to wreak emotional havoc on the women he dates — women who mistook the moments of sensitivity to indicate that he was a different, and more reliable, type of male person.” I’m not sure how Adelle Waldman has found her way through the outer, socialized shell of the male brain, or really if she accurately has. I hope some of my male friends will read this book and let me know. But if she has accurately depicted the limbic reactions of the average, American male, it’s semi-horrifying. And goes a long way toward explaining the divorce rate and declining marriage rate.
According to Ms. Waldman, though, men do relate to Nate. Some even to the point of asking her how she managed to “nail” them in her descriptions. http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/11/letters-from-the-creative-man-child.html. Which is not only distressing to women but damning to men. At least to men like Nate. Men like Nate who are serial daters; justifying to themselves their rejection of the current woman in favor of the next based on “I never promised more,” and “I told her from the get-go that I wasn’t looking for anything serious,” or “I know I’m being withdrawn and hostile but if she asks me if I’m mad at her one more time, I am leaving.”
My good friend Heather Dugan has written a book called Date Like a Grownup, the goal of which is for “readers to develop a personalized strategy for building a life foundation that facilitates growing a ‘right fit’ relationship.” It helps identify the Nates of the world. http://www.heatherdugan.com/2014/02/16/date-like-a-grownup-anecdotes. Maybe the subtitle of Heather’s book can be avoiding Nate.
And there’s another hopeful piece of news today. Everyone’s favorite ladies’ man and my personal Future Husband George, is reportedly taking the leap of getting engaged to his humanitarian lawyer girlfriend. And if George can grow up, then pretty much anyone can. Right?
Menu (from the disastrous congratulatory dinner Hannah cooks for Nate)
Linguine with clam sauce
Two cans of clams
1 bottle of clam juice
Garlic to taste
1/2 Vidalia onion
1/2 cup White wine
Saute onion, garlic in olive oil. When onion is soft, add white wine and 2 tbsp of the clam juice. Reduce. Add the clams and if desired, additional clam juice. Serve over hot linguine pasta.
1 head of escarole, torn and tossed with vinaigrette. Top with toasted almonds. I make vinaigrette by mixing fresh herbs with one teaspoon of mustard, adding about 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar and then drizzling in olive oil until I get the consistency I want.
I don’t know. This books makes me want to go all Man Eater, Hall and Oates, and Maniac, Michael Sembello. So let’s do it.
Man Eater, Hall & Oates
Maniac, Michael Sembello
This One’s for the Girls, Martina McBride
Stronger, Kelly Clarkson
Simply the Best, Tina Turner
Anything by Melissa Etheridge