Source: Dan Dobbs
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. Without really thinking, she says it aloud: “Do you realise
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:
“Heavens, 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
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 towards marriage? Towards children? Towards a lifetime together?
Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this
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… let me 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…
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 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 ninety-day
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-centred, schoolgirl, romantic
And Roger is thinking: “Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them
a warranty. I’ll take their warranty and stick it right up there…”
“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 way to answer.
“It’s just that… it’s that… I need some time,” Elaine says.
There is a fifteen-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he
can, tries to come up with a suitable 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?” asks 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 Cheezels, turns on the TV and immediately becomes
deeply involved in a rerun of some tennis match between two
Czechoslovakians he has 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.
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 analyse everything she said and everything
he said, going over it time and time again. They will explore 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 squash 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?”
And that’s the difference between men and women.