Saturday, June 6, 2009

On "Conversations You Have at Twenty" by Maud Newton (5665 words) ***

There's a moment in Newton's apparently autobiographical story (if the word "Memoir" is to be believed) where she notes that "it's one of those conversations you have at twenty." That sort of conversation is one where a man you barely know enters your room in the middle of the night and talks to you while you're half dressed until dawn. I have never had a woman do that to me, and perhaps that's where my own lack of success in that domain springs from. I do remember, one night, late, chatting with a woman eleven years my junior online--this was almost a decade ago--and she noted a similar experience to Newton's. In Newton's case, it led to her having a pretty unhealthy relationship (one of a string apparently); in the chatter's case, it was taken as being very rude and led nowhere.

The closest I've come to the kind of oddball situation like Newton's would have been when I was about eighteen. A girl, a friend of my sister's, who came to live with us with her mom after her mom's divorce, ran into my bedroom early in the morning and laid herself atop me (we were both fully clothed). Was I turned on? You betcha--and really uncomfortable. My mom walked in on us but didn't say anything, which seemed odd as well. Was it a dream? Am I imagining this? Maybe so, though I doubt it. I mean, she was wearing red sweatpants. It can't be a dream.

Newton's story doesn't come across as a dream either, unless it's a bad one. She's coming from a place very different from my own very conservative life, and for that I appreciate the honesty and freshness. Read the story
here at Narrative Magazine. (Log-in required--but it's free!)

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