Vox by Nicholson Baker Page B

Book: Vox by Nicholson Baker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nicholson Baker
disappoint you, though.”
    “I fully expect to be disappointed.”
    “Good. It said something like, ‘You and me are sitting side by side on my couch, watching X-vid, not touching. You are short or tall, etc., you want me to see pleasure transform your features. I am SWM, 29.’ ”
    “Was this an ad you really planned on running?”
    “I think so, possibly. No, I probably never would have. I’d carried it around in my pocket for a while, it was starting to get that folded-for-a-long-time look.”
    “How did she react?”
    “Emily said, ‘Well, you can try, but I seriously doubt anyone’s going to respond to that.’ Which was quite true.”
    “Oh, I don’t know.”
    “Even if she was wrong, I don’t think I really wanted what I said I wanted. Meeting strangers, the awkwardness. It would take such a huge effort of will to get over the pure chit-chat socialness of the context. My erection would never survive it. What I really wanted was to hand that folded piece of newsprint to
and watch her read it. I said, ‘What about if I took out the lame line about pleasure transforming their features?’ And she said, ‘But that’s the only thing in it that’s any good.’ So I asked her, if she were me—I said, ‘I know you’re not me, but if you were me and you wanted to achieve this objective, how would you word it?’ She said, ‘Well, tell me whatyour objective really is, in your own words, so I get a better sense of it.’ So I told her that I, well er um, I was interested, you know, in sitting on my couch, next to a woman, with an X-rated tape on, and the woman’s looking only at the movie and I’m looking only at the movie, and she’s well, um, masturbating, and as she starts to come she says, ‘Look at my face,’ and I look at her face, and she looks at the TV, and we both come. So she says, Emily says, ‘All right, good, now we have something to work from.’ She takes out a pen and starts drafting the ad on the place mat, she writes, ‘You and me are sitting,’ and she goes, ‘Good, okay so far, nice colloquial note, that’s fine.’ I think she was really delighted not to be talking about Lee. And then she taps the pen on the place mat and she looks up at me and she says, ‘No, look, you need to make the situation a lot clearer. You need to make her feel that it’s all right. You need to talk about some kind of a blanket.’ Out of the blue, a blanket! No, wait, I know what she said,
the blanket, she said something like, ‘You need to make the woman reading it understand that some sense of what is right and fitting coexists alongside your depravities.’ Not those exact words, but close to that. You believe it?
she brings up this blanket. This was a whole new side to her. I said, ‘All righty, what kind of blanket? You think we should specify the actual kind of blanket?’ And she nods and goes, ‘Yes, absolutely, the specific kind of blanket, the size, the thickness, the color, that’s all they have to goon.’ I said, ‘Okay, well, what do you think? Army surplus green blanket, Mormon quilt, what?’ She thought for a second, and then she said, she said, ‘I think you should mention a blanket with a fringe.’ I said, ‘But I do not
a blanket with a fringe.’ And she said, ‘You’re right, that’s a problem.’ And then she starts hitting me with all these questions. She goes, ‘How far is the TV from the couch?’ She’d never been to my apartment, of course. I said, ‘Well it’s on a rolling table, so there’s no fixed distance, but then, the cable cord limits the range, so I guess it’s probably about six feet from the couch.’ She noted this down and she goes, ‘Because the woman skimming these personals may need to know that. That little fact might be of the highest importance. Now, is the couch two pillows wide or three pillows wide or four pillows wide?’ I said it was three pillows wide. She said, ‘Like this?’ and on the place mat she

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