too real man too real
too real man too real
This morning my train to work was unusually empty, so I got to sit down. It’s generally my goal not to look at anybody too much on the subway, and I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s easier to avoid eye contact while standing or sitting. (Standing you can more easily read the ads, I think, but sitting you can more easily look at the floor. I’m still evaluating.) Today I sat with my purse in my lap and looked at my phone for the distance between my stop and the next, but at the next I looked up to see the people get on.
A girl around my age, maybe younger, walked on and stood at the doors across from me. I looked back down, but once we were moving, I glanced up and noticed her again. She was alone, not wearing headphones, and smiling just slightly, with her mouth closed. She looked the way I think I look when I’m trying not to smile to myself in public because I’m worried about looking strange, but can’t help it. I didn’t think she looked strange.
I noticed she was looking at the doors opposite her, which probably means she was looking at her reflection in the window panels. She would look straight ahead, smile a little, touch part of her outfit, and then recompose herself into seriousness. Then she’d do it again. I also saw her take her long hair into her hand a couple times and smell the ends of it, which also made her smile, which made me smile too (though I tried not to). She just seemed really happy about herself. I don’t know, maybe she’s in love or something. But I think she was just really pleased with how she looked today, and how her hair smelled.
Anyway, I guess this is all to say that today I did not do a great job of not staring at people on the subway.
The men in [Waldman’s] milieu who have written about Nates haven’t looked so closely at the pain these men cause: her book is less an apologia than the case for the prosecution. It is methodical; Waldman has done the work of imagining so we can all understand this sort of guy’s behaviour and mentality. It’s almost a public service.
Waldman is especially sensitive to what’s at stake in love for her female characters; for women in literature, love always represents certain destinies. For Lily Bart in The House of Mirth, the stakes of love are economic. For the women in Waldman’s world, it’s their personal dignity that hangs in the balance. The difference between the way the women see themselves and the way they appear to the men they’re involved with is what they have to reckon with: they have to hold on to their sense of their own value, against the lack of value they have in the eyes of the men they date.