Anna in Chains
Anna said in disgust. “This is almost the year 2000.”
    â€œI’m glad Papa didn’t live long enough to see what’s become of the world.”
    â€œYou think Papa was so innocent?” Anna said. “When he married Mama, what do you think he was marrying? Her brains?”
    â€œBite your tongue,” Gert said. “Papa was a religious man.
    â€œHe was a man ,” Anna said.
    â€œSo was Abram a man,” Gert said. “Or didn’t you ever notice? You think Abram only wanted to pray on his wedding night?”
    Anna tried to remember her wedding night. Could such a thing be possible—for a woman to forget her wedding night? “Thank heaven—” she said, “this line is beginning to move.” She gave Gert a little shove. “Will you walk?” she said impatiently. “I want to get in there before they fill up.”
    The line suddenly began to shoot forward. A young woman carrying a walkie-talkie and wearing an NBC peacock emblem on her jacket pocket ran along beside them and herded them into a vast ceilingless cavern. It was like the dark inside of a refrigerator. She rushed them over cables and wires taped to the floor, she sent them up wide flat stairs to find seats.
    â€œBe sure to take an aisle seat,” Gert advised Anna, “or he won’t be able to get to you.”
    â€œWhat makes you think I care if he gets to me?” Anna asked.
    â€œBecause you always have to be the center of attention,” Gert said. “But don’t bother to toss your hair for him,” Gert added. “Your charms had their day, Anna, but face it—their day is over.”
    Donahue’s guest was a young woman who looked like a school teacher but was really a whorehouse madam. Her ancestors had come over on the Mayflower. She was dressed like a girl going to church. Pretty, blonde, and blue-eyed, she sat on a chair and folded her hands in her lap. Her dress resembled a kind of middy-blouse Anna used to wear as a child. A string of white pearls lay on her throat. Anna observed how respectful Phil Donahue was to her; she disapproved. Why should a man as educated and intelligent as Donahue have to knock himself out for a woman like that—running around the audience with his coattails flying and his microphone sticking forward like a giant mushroom.
    They were talking about the madam’s business—how her “girls” were very smart and cultured, that many were college students, one was even a medical student. What other jobs could they find, she said, that had such good hours and such high pay? She provided regular medical care for them. Her girls carried little charge-card machines in their purses. They carried extra pantyhose and business clothes for the next day. They were refined, intelligent women, just women earning a decent living.
    The floodlights, burning brightly now and heating up the room rapidly, seemed aimed at Anna’s face. She squinted in the glare. Donahue went on smiling and nodding as if the whorehouse business was just fine with him; the trouble with liberals was that they forgave everyone for everything.
    Gert poked Anna.
    â€œDoes anyone know what kind of part-time jobs your granddaughters have at college?” she demanded. “Do you think Janet knows what her children do?”
    â€œYou’re crazy,” Anna said. “My granddaughters are not prostitutes.”
    â€œDo you know for sure where they sleep every night?”
    â€œNo!” Anna said. “Do you know for sure where I sleep every night?”
    â€œI have no doubts about you,” Gert said. “You aren’t the type to sleep around. You only like to tease.”
    Anna was feeling dizzy. She was the older sister, she had always believed she understood everything better than Gert. Now her head was reeling. All these questions raised about her granddaughters, about her wedding night! Was she a tease because she liked

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