Pazzo per un libro

A volte succede. Non lo cerchi e ti trova lui, proprio quando hai finito un libro e sei pronto a farti travolgere da un altro. In questo caso è stato il titolo di un articolo del Guardian, che cita questo libro proprio all’inizio, presentandolo come uno dei migliori del 2019. Il tema è lo sparire offline e poi scopri che il libro tratta di un uomo, separato, con figli, medico, newyorkese, 41enne, che scopre il dating online e la sua vita ne viene rivoluzionata.

Un libro vero, esplicito, divertente, trasgressivo, diretto, senza peli sulla lingua. 400 pagine scarse così dense che, dopo averne letto quasi un terzo, ne ho sottolineato 31 parti. 31! Non so che idea si farà di me chi leggerà alcuni dei brani sottlineati, riportati a seguire, ma non mi interessa. Anche questo è Luca.

Fleishman is in trouble, tra parentesi, è scritto da una donna.

There was something in him that liked the world as his dating app presented it, something that liked to think of New York as a city covered with people just having sex constantly. People who walked around with only one imperative: to fuck, or to somehow otherwise touch/lick/suck/penetrate/apply hot breath to, the first warm body who agreed to it, people crazed with sex and fire, people who were still alive, maybe after a few years of death, like him, and who looked just like regular people but were deep down barely able to stop themselves from humping a stranger’s legs as they walked down the street to the drugstore or a meeting or a yoga class.

He was immediately paralyzed by the amount of information that needed to be input into his member profile: The questions were inane, and the truth was either too banal or too ugly to put out into the world, and so he sat and stared at the questions, knowing the truth wouldn’t quite work. What would he be if he weren’t what he was (a book critic is somewhat true and a good choice, right?), what his spirit animal was (what? What did that mean?), his favorite food (hummus? It was true, but is there a food that’s less sexy than hummus? There is not), his favorite movie (he wanted to put down Annie Hall but wasn’t sure that was still okay), how he liked to spend a rainy afternoon (reading and watching porn and masturbating).

It’s not like I wasn’t busy. I was an officer in good standing of my kids’ PTA. I owned a car that put my comfort ahead of the health and future of the planet. I had an IRA and a 401(k) and I went on vacations and swam with dolphins and taught my kids to ski. I contributed to the school’s annual fund. I flossed twice a day; I saw a dentist twice a year. I got Pap smears and had my moles checked. I read books about oppressed minorities with my book club. I did physical therapy for an old knee injury, forgoing the other things I’d like to do to ensure I didn’t end up with a repeat injury. I made breakfast. I went on endless moms’ nights out, where I put on tight jeans and trendy blouses and high heels like it mattered and went to the restaurant that was right next to the restaurant we went to with our families. (There were no dads’ nights out for my husband, because the supposition was that the men got to live life all the time, whereas we were caged animals who were sometimes allowed to prowl our local town bar and drink the blood of the free people.) I took polls on whether the Y or the JCC had better swimming lessons. I signed up for soccer leagues in time for the season cutoff, which was months before you’d even think of enrolling a child in soccer, and then organized their attendant carpools. I planned playdates and barbecues and pediatric dental checkups and adult dental checkups and plain old internists and plain old pediatricians and hair salon treatments and educational testing and cleats-buying and art class attendance and pediatric ophthalmologist and adult ophthalmologist and now, suddenly, mammograms. I made lunch. I made dinner. I made breakfast. I made lunch. I made dinner. I made breakfast. I made lunch. I made dinner.

And here was Seth, who would fuck every single person in every single orifice and only once he got tired of it (if he ever did) would he find someone young and take her life away by finally having children.

He ordered a Scotch and she told him her story. She had three kids, they were at Dwight, her husband was a banker who, three years ago, went on a life-coaching survival skills weekend. She had sent him on the weekend for his birthday for $10,000. It was led by a renowned life coach/healer who had recently graduated to being a shaman and who could maybe help him figure out why he was so depressed all the time. He had been talking about being on his private jet and wanting to jump out of it. He talked about wanting to make things with his hands, like bread and birdhouses. “Good, good,” Tess said. “Go off and come back to me whole and happy again.” Well, he went off for the weekend and he came home and he had warmth in his eyes again. He was smiling and talkative. She asked what he’d learned about himself over the weekend, and he’d explained to her that he’d been feeling suffocated by their life recently, and that he wanted to engage in some threesomes to make him feel less encumbered. She considered this request with a straight face, like maybe you sometimes do what your marriage asks of you, even if you didn’t expect it. That was the worst part of this story, she said. That she was about to say yes to it. But then the husband said, “But not with you.” “What do you mean?” she’d asked. “I mean, I realize I want the sexual freedom that comes with multiple partners,” he’d said. “I want to explore my creative expression with other women. I think a lot of what I’m going through comes from having been so sexually repressed in my youth.” This was news to her. By her count, he was the opposite of sexually repressed. He wanted it five times a week at the minimum, and sometimes he wanted it kind of weird, and she had always complied. Maybe that was the problem? Maybe she should have made him want it more? “The life coach told you this was a good idea?” Ten thousand dollars. “She helped me realize it, yes.” “That threesomes would make you feel better?” “Yes. It was a no-judgment zone.”

She thought this was a phase at first, but he brought it up every fucking night and eventually she had to deal with the fact that her husband was asking not just to sleep with another woman, but to sleep with two other women, any woman but her, basically, and could she please occupy herself while he’s doing it. She finally asked for a divorce, her last particle of dignity rising up somehow, but her prenup was a prison; she only got something if he suggested the divorce, and he didn’t—no, he contested it! Can you imagine? He didn’t want to cheat on her, he’d said. He wanted to expand the marriage, was the word he used. “Yeah, to include everyone but me,” she’d said. She just couldn’t, she’d said. Her barely-hanging-on sense of self couldn’t allow her. He said it must mean that she didn’t love him that much. Now she looked at Toby. “You couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to be owned by someone.” Toby took a long swallow of his Scotch. He watched her as she spoke. She used an aggressive concealer to cover up some periorbital shade beneath her eyes she wasn’t happy with, but she was tan, and the concealer was maybe purchased in a winter month; it had the effect of making her look as though she’d been on a tanning bed with large sunglasses. She had long black nails that ended in an actual point, like a spade. Her hands had large spots on them. He was pretty sure she was not forty-one. She moved the tiny straw around in her martini, looking down and then looking up at him while her head was still angled down. She was being flirtatious, and it occurred to him for the millionth time, but the first time on this date, that it was strange that they were making introductory talk when he had already seen her crotch. It was not that he was advocating for an immediate rush to bed. It was just that he thought it would make more sense, now that he’d seen her in her see-through underwear, to start in the middle somehow. Though maybe this—the stories and the confessions and the could you believe what he did to me—was the middle. Tess and her husband had gone to couples therapy. “Of course I was sure that when he heard himself talk about this, he’d realize how crazy he sounded.