The Big C

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Now You See Me

"I could pretend that I didn't see what I just saw," Cathy says; like the woman at the nursery counter, who lied. "But I'm not going to." People go through their lives with one eye covered, maybe two. It's a favor we do for each other, usually, but ultimately it's a favor we do for ourselves.

"I know you're going through a lot of changes right now. You must have a lot of questions." None.

They've been answered, in a way that Adam most likely has already begun to figure out is slightly questionable, but which revelation he would and must of course resist; the comfort of fantasy being so very fleeting. We never resist harder than when we know our illusions are about to be dashed; your belief in Santa Claus is never stronger than in the moment, the instant, before you irrevocably find out. This is for the very good reason that you are trying to hold the world you know together with your hands.

Cathy Jamison sits on the bed next to her son, violating another boundary, erection ignored or gone altogether, and pops his laptop open again. They're there to be looked at, like blue-eyed irises, and so Cathy Jamison will look. When her son asks, voice cracking like a violin string, what she thinks she's doing -- when she doesn't know what she is doing -- she thinks of what she is doing, suddenly, as "Opening the lines of communication."

The importance of tenderness, of foreplay; the unlikelihood of breasts that shape and size; the twinned functions of beauty and attraction in a genre meant not to approximate sex or sensuality or women but to successfully bring a masturbating man to climax, which is a completely different, almost unrelated, enterprise. You wouldn't use a soup spoon for a carburetor.

But the fact is -- and Cathy is not wrong, about this -- that men often have less difficulty than they should in reconciling the world of the mind with the physical world around them. Men, specifically, have been casting other people in their internal dramas for as long as there have been men. Beautiful girls appear and give the hero a gun and a blowjob and maybe you never even learn their names. Beautiful girls without heads or faces, with strange hard breasts and childlike vaginas.

And so there is the danger (the certainty really, and one only age can really eliminate) that in confusing the world of pornography with the world of men and women, one might forget altogether the real fact of women, as persons designed for more than to be looked at. That hoping women will behave like the women in pornography is not great, but it is better than assuming that they will, and well beyond the worst case scenario: Believing that they do. Becoming so good at objectification that your inner world merges with the real one.

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The Big C

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