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.
Since moving to New York I haven’t talked to my friends at home as much as I’d like, because the amount I’d like to be talking to them is everyday, and, well, now that’s impossible. It’s weird how you adapt, even against your will — I don’t WANT us to need each other any less, but we do. At least on a daily basis, at least for now. You learn to siphon the daily, text-able concerns toward people physically closer to you, and save the bigger updates and themes for your weekly (or whatever) catch-ups. Another factor is that my friends at home are perfect and wonderful human beings who don’t have any flaws, except that they are bad at email and don’t Gchat.
There have been a few times, since moving, when I’ve remembered that calling them unscheduled is an option, which implies that I’ve temporarily forgotten it, which alarms me. When I was younger, especially, I’d get mad at my friends for “forgetting” about me when they transferred or moved home or started grad school with new people, and didn’t call me as often as I wanted. They were always the ones to move and change and meet new people while I stayed, but now the one to do all that is me. (Well, to move, anyway. I neither approve of nor welcome change; it is only ever forced upon me.) It’s been an adjustment in self-management. So now I get it, several years too late to be sympathetic. We were all right, I think: we all CAN get by talking to our best friends less often, and there are probably periods in life when that just has to be how it is, but I still think it’s bad and short-sighted to let it happen for very long, if you love each other. Not doing it just builds it up into this big ordeal, and it isn’t.
Lately I’ve read a few things and heard a bunch of people talk about how much they hate talking on the phone. It’s kind of a ~millennial joke~, I think, and maybe a little bit of a writer one, like, AHH, THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN TALKING ON A PHONE WITH YOUR VOICE, and don’t even get me STARTED on VOICEMAIL. But I love talking on the phone, especially while walking somewhere or lying on my bed, for hours, like a teen. On the phone you can hear each other laugh, and emphasize what needs emphasizing, and know when something’s being danced around. You can also interrupt each other, which, honestly, is sometimes necessary. That is how it works in real life, is you and your friends interrupt each other constantly. You, after so many years of talking, are the only ones who know how to get each other to the point.
Anyway, I love the phone, even if I sometimes forget how much, even if I don’t need it. Today I called C after going just a little too long, and she picked up after two rings, and I was like, oh right, thank god, it’s you.