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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
The Prime of Miss Nat Newman

Andy keeps hopping back and forth between his bench and Nancy's, at the bus stop. Finally he just begs her to say they'll "never." "Just say we'll never." Nancy nods; after all, she likes him too much to give him the curse of death that always follows her love life. "Holy cow, you're right! They do all die. Your pussy's a death sentence. A penis flytrap. You're Dr. Kavagian!" Points for penis flytrap, even if you ended weak. Then Andy points out that Esteban's not dead and she curls her lip, like, whatevering his life away: "Um, not yet." I love how even Nancy has noticed these things and just didn't feel like bringing them up before. Next she's going to be like, "Did it ever occur to you that my whole life is about running from grief in whatever form it takes, and really I'm just pretending to be an adrenaline junkie because I miss the bear?"

Andy says this is proof of something: "So by not loving me, you're actually saving me?" Nancy wouldn't say that, but also let's correct your grammar: "By not sleeping with you I'm probably saving you, yeah." (My emph., not hers. Her tone doesn't really modulate, as is usual when she's talking through the latte straw and pretending to be bored.) Finally he gets all hormonal and starts wringing his hands and having stupid epiphanies again about how she has to "release" him and "let him go" so that he can spread his wings and whatever, whatever. I'm glad Nancy finds it as hilarious as I do: "Nance. This is the moment. Right now, waiting for the number 43 bus!"

Nancy, biting the shit out of that latte straw now, grits that she actually cannot do that. Say those words. And when he asks why -- her feelings, not her thoughts -- they come out like they're in crayon. "...I can't. I'm afraid." And he knows damn well why, but he wants her to say it. This part's for her, not him. This is like the bathtub. Candles everywhere. What's she afraid of? "That you'll leave me. Us."

Andy rejoices, because that means he's got all the power. "Not you," he clarifies, making her smile. Like she cares about power, like it functions independent of her. Like it's something you do. It's not about him making the choice, or taking the power: It's about seeing who he is and knowing that he won't make the choice. It's about knowing him so well that you never do anything to send him away, even talking about the rules of the game as you're playing the game, if necessary.

Because going meta is the best way to fuck with boys, because they think about what's in front of them and they think it's real. They privilege their experience over anything you could possibly say: "I am going to break your heart," you say, looking them right in the eye, and they're like, "Sure you are." Works every time. "I am never going to love you," you say, "The way that you want me to." And they nod. And you say, "I mean it. I am being perfectly honest with you." And they nod. There is no center to this Tootsie Roll Pop.

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