Dorothy Parker, when asked to use the word horticulture in a sentence, replied: “You can lead a whore to culture but you can”t make her think.” Funny. But after all, she was a writer, and who to preserve the sanctity of high culture but a writer?
But Dottie also said, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.” She”s sending a bit of a mixed message here. Which am I supposed to be: The Cosmo girl or the four-eyed recluse? Do I really have to make a choice between sex and smarts? You wouldn”t think so. But it might be fun to test this theory.
Here”s the scene: a party on North Thayer. Miles Davis, glasses instead of red plastic cups, boys in black turtlenecks. I don”t know anyone here. I heard about this party in an e-mail forward. I stand at the chips and drinks table looking for victims. A few people are attempting to dance. I”ll leave them alone. Couple guys talking about imported beers. Nah. Wait. Here we go.
There”s a certain kind of “smart” guy I”ve encountered at this University. He excels in his field of study business, economics, history, law, literature, philosophy but he usually dates total zeros. I”m talking brain dead. Pretty, pretty girls with the self-confidence of brine shrimp. I”ve also encountered girls who like to play dumb.
I know at least a few brilliant women who turn into Twinkie filling when one of these “smart” guys walks into the room. Instead of bragging about their latest paper on the Post-Romantic Consciousness of XYZ they blush, trill and delicately sip beer from plastic cups (or glasses!) while Smarty expounds on his particular flavor of neo-Classicism. If they”re lucky, the music at the party is loud enough that everyone”s happy. Also, beer tastes better when you”re bored. Accordingly, these guys seem a little less pedantic when you”re drunk.
Not to say that all smart guys are jerks. Some of them are adorable and let you make up little songs about them and play with their hair. Some of them like to go bowling. But these are not the guys I”m here for.
So here we go: Three guys standing in the corner, one in a black turtleneck, two in sweaters. They”re talking about Joyce. Think mixed messages! First I”ll stand here and look pretty. I”ll nod at appropriate points in the conversation. I”ll sip my beer. Good. Now it”s time to throw them off: “If you think about it, a lot of Joyce”s work is literally masturbatory. Think about what this means for the art of writing. Dubliners, Portrait, Ulysses. It”s there, guys.”
I should mention that I”m wearing a pink dress and lots of gooey make up.
I wander over to the drinks and chips table and do two shots of vodka. They”re watching. Ooh, they”re confused. Should I wander back over there yet? No, I”ll wait until they lose interest. When I wander back over they”re talking about postmodernism. I twist the ends of my hair around my fingers and flutter my eyelashes. It”s working! One of them smiles. It”s the perfect synthesis of Cosmo, Ms., and Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Confuse the hell out of them.
The only problem is that those shots of vodka are starting to get to me. Time for a coup de grace and then a quick exit.
I make my way back to their little corner. Ingratiate myself with smiles and nods. “Actually, I think that Frederick Jameson was basically writing a bunch of crap.” Polite, cold stares. I decide not to bother following that one up and drop my purse instead. “Oops.” Giggle. Not one of them moves to pick it up. So much for Cosmo.
Katie Mulcrone”s column runs every other Monday. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com