Nicole hands the portable computer to her friends and they laugh at Frank. It’s still too early for them to sense the sadness, but Nicole tells them it has been going on for days. “Watch this,” she says, “how I write a single word and he comes back with a myriad of interpretations, camouflaging his desire. Luckily, he hasn’t gone there saying something about roses. Yes, this whole thing is a fetish. He is probably home in a dark room just waiting for me, and I ignore him.”
“Alex says a man’s fetish begins at a moment of conjoined anxiety and stimulation when, for some reason, the man is made to feel that if he expresses his sexuality at that precise moment, he will be breaking some rule and love will be withheld from him.” – Perlman
“I know he is there, I can feel him,” Nicole says, “Can’t you? Don’t you know men like this?”
“There was a scientist,” Frank sends to Nicole, “Edward T. Hall, who described a box of rats. There were two alpha rats that would mate with all the female rats and the female rats would coyly wait for them or follow them around. There was another hierarchy of male rats that would try to mate with one or two of the females, but they were not usually welcome. So, these second-tiered male rats took their shots when the alpha males weren’t looking. There was another tier of male rats that cowered in the corners. They were quiet, almost invisible and completely ignored.
“On occasion,” Frank continued, “the female rats would find themselves ignored too or bashed by the other females or left brokenhearted by the alpha males, and as they felt sorry for themselves the cowering males saw opportunity. Each time as a charity intercourse or to cause jealousy, the females would allow themselves to be played with, touched, and penetrated by the lesser males. It never ended well for them. The ostracization always began immediately as the female rat saw her mistake.
“Weakness and isolation were not good signs for the health of the brood,” Frank continued as if Nicole were listening in her house in her room. “If the alpha males knew of the weakness they would have ripped the outcast apart, except that even alpha males need their sleep. The conniving rat saw his chance and took it hoping that the uniqueness of his circumstances would allow him what he wanted more than anything, but of course these things never really happened unless they are rape or charity. Rejection always follows this and honesty is the only way out.
“So, in this case,” Frank said, “I told you every stop and reminded you often what my intentions were and you saw it for the joke it was, a novelette, more like a novelty. I wrote instead of lived. You told your friends, thinking for a moment, what was wrong. I even had the audacity to tell you that my friend had said that our maturation levels were almost too far apart. We both know my maturation is childlike. I just couldn’t embrace the truth that you would never allow this chronological breach and even if you did, society would not allow it. If we appeared in public, it would be as father and daughter. Otherwise, it was the indication of something horribly wrong.
“I waited and wondered,” Frank said, “and she cringed from what she had started.”