Thursday, October 7, 2004

The Dialogues of Plato and Pam

Mrs. Linklater was trolling through her DOCUMENTS folder and discovered something she thought she'd lost -- a transcription of a conversation with a friend, recorded for posterity one night a few years ago.

[Too bad you can't hear how rude they are to each other.]

The idea was to record dialogues between two consenting adults about touchy relationship subjects. Then pitch the conversations as a continuing column somehow somewhere.  Whatever, the momentum slowed mainly because these two "friends" pretty much wanted to kill each other when the conversation was over.  

[Plato, a 40-year-old single professional, recently had a girlfriend who wondered why he left in the middle of the night. She finally asked him, “How come you don’t stay?” He replied, “Because you never ask me to.” Pam, a divorced, opinionated, older friend of Plato’s [Mrs. Linklater], who also had a similar problem with him at one time, couldn’t believe he said he had to have an invitation. So they had a conversation about sleeping over and recorded it. Here is the transcript with Pam’s  [Mrs. Linklater's] editorial comments added later.]

                  THE DIALOGUES of PLATO & PAM

PAM: I want to talk about the etiquette of sleeping over, which I guess is:  How do you know if you’re supposed to? How do you know if it’s okay? I say, if you sleep with a woman in her bed – let me clarify that – if you have sex with a woman in her bed – she wants you to stay over -- period, end of story, no need to be invited

PLATO: Where was THAT written? I must have missed class that day.[PAM COMMENTS: Let me clarify the clarification – if you have sex with a woman in her bed AND SHE LETS YOU FALL ASLEEP – she wants you to stay over. . .]

PAM: If you’re that intimate with a person, and you’re already there in HER bed, why would you leave?

PLATO: Because you don’t feel comfortable.  Because no one invited you to stay.  Because --


PAM: [Interrupting] See, for you, I guess they’re separate things. You have sex in the bed cause it’s there.  Then, after you’ve been totally completely intimate with this person, as intimate as you can be with a person, she has to turn to you and say, “Would you like to stay?” [PAM: I can hear Miss Manners, “I’m ever so grateful for your attention, Mr. Thumblewaite, might we continue our amusing digression until morning tea?”]


PLATO: Or you can stay if you want to, or I’d like you to stay, or I hope you’ll stay.

[Pam:  Actually the real reason he doesn’t stay is that he has to take his contacts out and it's very hard to see without them. I know he’d never admit to this on tape.]


PAM: But why do you need a formal request? Leaving in the middle of the night, when you’ve fallen asleep after sex is, to me, rude, something left over from the sixties where people f**ked and the guy left.  A guy always left because he didn’t want to be there in the morning, because he got what he wanted and he didn’t want to stay. [PAM COMMENTS: I do have a girlfriend who tells guys after sex, “Okay, it’s time for you to leave now.” But if she lets them fall asleep, they can stay. I once let a drunk S.E.A.L. stay for weeks. One doesn’t tell trained killers when to leave.]


PLATO: I don’t know if I agree that it’s rude. I don’t think that’s clear.  And some women -- even though the act itself of lovemaking might be intimate -- a lot of women stillhold back emotionally and are still not ready to be that intimate. [PAM COMMENTS: Because, duh, they know you’re going to get up and leave.] And for some, the feeling I’ve gotten sometimes is that it’s more intimate than they want to be.  And they just want to be alone. [PAM: I could say the same for you.]


PAM: Have women actually said that to you?


PLATO: No. [PAM:  I rest my case.] You sense that, when you’re not having someone cling to you after; or somebody’s just lying there next to you and you might as well be lying in bed alone. [PAM: She’s probably just thinking, “Is that all there is?”]


PAM:  All right so for you it’s two separate events:  There’s making love and there’s sleeping together.


PLATO:  No --


PAM: And for me it’s one event.  If you make love with that person they should be there to stay.


PLATO: Okay. But you’re saying it like they SHOULD – you’ve decided -- I keep wondering where is this universally written that everybody knows this? [PAM COMMENTS: Isn’t it on the Cosmo masthead?], but where is the expectation that if you sleep in the bed with somebody and you make love, you’re supposed to spend the night? If you get invited, fine. Why is it so bad to think I’m giving a woman her privacy?  I am giving her HER emotional space and if she wants to invite me to share it with her -- what’s wrong with that?

[PAM COMMENTS: Stand in front of a mirror and practice saying, “Please share my emotional space with me,” until it seems natural.]


PLATO: All she [his old girlfriend] had to say was, I’d like you to stay, or would you like to stay? Or wouldn’t it be great if you stayed? And she never did.  And by the way, she asked me a couple of times, “Why don’t you spend the night?”  [PAM:That sounds like an invitation to me] And I said, “Because you never invite me.” [PAM: You could have said, “Is that an invitation?”]  And she still never quite managed to invite me. Or even express an interest. [PAM: Apparently you weren’t listening.]  

She could have said why don’t you pack your jammies when you come over tonight and we’ll have a little pajama party or something?  [PAM: Run, do not walk to the nearest exit].  Or you tell somebody I bought a toothbrush for you or they bring you in the bathroom and show you there’s a toothbrush with a bow on it.


PAM: A bow? You’ve got to be kidding.


PLATO: No, I’ve had that. And that tells you this person is inviting you in.  And I don’t mean just into their space, but into their life, into their bed. Then you get to think, wow I’m being invited, and this person wants to be with me.

[PAM: Sated from lovemaking, she reached into her bedside drawer and handed him a formal invitation: ”Mr. and Mrs. John Smith cordially invite you to stay until morning with their daughter, Matilda, with whom you just had sex.  RSVP: Regrets only.”]


CONTINUED in the next entry because Mrs. Linklater can't get it all into this one.



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