Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I love carbs, but I hate you

At my gym tonight I saw a young, slim woman wearing a T-shirt reading "I Love Carbs," using the rebus-making heart emoticon.

Wondering what could possess someone to actively proclaim such a sentiment -- was she a member of an anti-Atkins cult? -- I approached her. (Full disclosure: She was rather attractive and I wanted to have sex with her.)

"You don't look like someone who likes carbs," I said.

Truth in advertising is very important to me.

"Oh, I do!" she exclaimed, suggesting unbridled, powerless enthrallment tinged with guilt and remorse.

"I didn't know they made T-shirts with such sentiments."

"My girlfriend got one first. Then I got one. So there's at least one other person who has one."

"It's not some kind of cult, is it?"

"No," she said, and immediately left the floor. She seemed very discomfited by our encounter. Now, dietary preferences aside, I find that women in New York City gyms tend to recoil whenever a man tries to talk to them -- in fact, whenever a man violates what they have deemed their personal space. It could be the Stairmaster or the Nautilus machine next to the one they're using. It could be the same street. Sometimes I think it's the entire city. I think they'd like to carve their own solipsistic world out of our metropolis of eight million. Turn Manhattan into MySpace.

Or maybe it's just me. But I don't think so. I think the great majority of affluent young professionals have grown up in suburbs where, from earliest childhood, spontaneous human engagement is frowned upon, if not forbidden. You know, the 4-year-olds' play date, McMansion-filled, acres-apart next-door neighbory, auto-centric, air-conditioned nightmare, the royalty check is in the mail, Mr. Miller. (When I was a kid...ah, I'll save that for another post. Or maybe for another novel I'm contemplating, the central premise of which I've stolen from Witold Gombrowicz. But, since I first conceived of the idea in a dream, perhaps
-- and despite his dying before I was born, for physics has proven that time is an illusion -- he stole it from me.)

So they come to the big city where they can't help -- even after the Kochian real estate sellout and the Giuliani Disneyfication -- having teeming humanity thrust upon them. In the streets, in the shops, on the subway, in the health "club" where they don't seem to want any other members, they have to (shudder) rub up against "them" -- you know, other people. Hell is, like, icky. And they don't know how to handle it. So they insulate themselves with the cell phone, the iPod, the middle-distance stare, the brisk, aggressively aloof stance. The Kevlar walk. When they're bereft of such equipment, well, they get terrified and flee.

But the irony is that they're the monsters.

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