--Tell me, Lily, he said in a friendly tone, do you still go to school?
--O no, sir, she answered. I'm done schooling this year and more.
--O, then, said Gabriel gaily, I suppose we'll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh?
The girl glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great bitterness:
--The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you.
Gabriel coloured as if he felt he had made a mistake and, without looking at her, kicked off his goloshes and flicked actively with his muffler at his patent-leather shoes.
--from The Dead, by James Joyce
This weekend I went to An Event with Brother 2. It was fancy. It was held in an art museum. I was dressed my best and wandered the galleries, imagining myself as some sort of socialite while Brother 2 welcomed people to The Event, told them that the galleries were open to them and that hors d'oeuvres would be served at 6:30.
After I enjoyed the galleries, I found Brother 2, still meeting and greeting. He introduced me to a very Nice Lady.
--What are you studying, asked The Lady, smiling.
--I am majoring in English, was my reply.
--Oh! Another useless major! How delightful!
Perhaps I started to look uneasy. Brother 2 added,
--She's not only studying English.
--I'm also studying French and minoring in editing, I said, trying not to bite my lip or play with my rings.
--Two useless majors, then! Well, I had two useless majors, too, she said gaily. I studied English and music.
--Well, what were you able to do with your useless majors? I asked.
--Oh, well, I just got them a couple years ago. I teach music now.
People often assume that I'm going to be a teacher when they learn that I'm an English major. I would rather milk cows. In fact, right now I am actively working on plans to start a business that has the potential to be quite profitable. I'd tell you all, but some People Who Know told me to stop sharing my business idea with people because it's so good that someone will steal it.
--Well, I am planning to start up my own business once I've graduated. It will focus a lot on editing. And a lot of stuff that I won't tell you but ha! I'm going to have a business! Try and call that useless! Ha! Forget about those statistics of small businesses failing in the first year of operation. I'm going to beat all odds.
At this point, Brother 2 was reintegrated into the conversation and mentioned that he had gone on a couple of dates with a girl who lives close to The Lady.
--Oh! The Lady cried. I just love her! I just love her! Don't you just love her?
As if the fact that he had only gone on a couple dates with her a while ago and they weren't going on any dates anymore were not a good enough indicator that he doesn't actually just love her.
--Yes, Brother 2 replied. Yes, I just love her. She's great.
They chit chatted about this a while and then Brother 2 was off again, talking to others. The Lady turned to me.
--She really is a sweet girl. A great girl. She just needs to be married!
The last words were delivered with much conviction. She continued,
--I just don't understand why she's not married yet.
--Well, I offered, I guess it's not always so easy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she has a list of rules that need to be adhered to by anyone of the opposite sex who aspires to grab her attention but doesn't feel the need to follow any rules of courtesy when dealing with the opposite sex. Just an idea.
--No. No, she agreed. You're right. Yes, I have a daughter who's also not married. Brother 2 should be dating her! In fact, I have several daughters who aren't married... one... two... three. I suppose I've got three. One's eighteen, the other's twenty-one... I just don't understand why they're not dating!
--Well, like I said, I guess it's just not always so easy. So now let's just drop the subject, please.
--No, I suppose it's not.
She turned to me with a warm smile spreading across her face and gently nodded her head towards me.
--Are you dating anyone?
--No. I'm not. And I haven't been for years. Now can we please talk about something else? Perhaps my useless majors again?
--Well. I just don't know what's wrong with men these days. It's obviously a different world from when I was growing up. When I was in college, everyone just found a date Friday night. That's what was done. Today...
She sighed hopelessly and looked up as if answers would simply be written on the museum ceiling. She looked back to me.
--I mean, you're ... Here she hesitated ...cute. And overweight... if you lost a few pounds I'm sure you could get a man.
--Well, who knows. Anyway. It was a pleasure meeting you.
I went to fill up my glass with punch and wished that my religion allowed me to drink something a little stronger.