Just because a man pulls out your chair for you and takes your coat at an elegant restaurant is no guarantee that he really loves you. You know this, and so whether he burps or farts over the dinner like some sort of Chinese compliment does not much matter to you, whether he subscribes to the high sanctimony of the right thing leaves you unmoved and lonely. Once, like a Turkish princess, you were feted and dined by all sorts of mannerly people, in a high castle on the cliffs of Scotland. Now, so many thank-yous and sincerelies later, it's the things unsaid, the warm rudities of late night, that most move you and you are wild for slurped sounds of the truly decent, the I-chew-with-my-mouth-open look of the one you will love forever. Whatever it is that might be said for the predictable thing, the good manners you were taught in childhood, it's more and more the case of the auspicious oddity that excites you now, the cool flippancy of the one who invents his own decencies. Darling, I say to you, fall to the floor all you want, I ain't pulling chairs out for anyone. But what I'll whisper to you later, in the orderly dark that comes every night like a good butler, will be sweeter than all that, believe me, something you can write home to mom about as if I were the man who had sent you a, dozen roses on Valentine's Day, or smiled in the pretty picture, or paid you the most beautiful compliment in the world— only more slovenly, baby, more kind.
From Against Romance by Michael Blumenthal, published by Viking Penguin, Inc. Copyright © 1987 by Michael Blumenthal. Used by permission of the author.