“Pickles and Tarts” — Chapter 6

Chapter 6

“Hello again Nicole,” he wrote. “I haven’t read the books either.” He starts to think of this experience as an expression of truth and to see if he can make a connection with her based on the truth of himself and being open in all of his responses.

“I am currently reading The History of the Novel and I happened on the section,” Frank typed, “where Schmidt talks about the Brontes and their influence. Beyond that, it feels weird contacting you because I realize you are much younger.  I just saw your picture and as an artist, I thought you were beautiful. I wondered what you thought and was flattered that you would respond to me causing a match. Perhaps you made a mistake and accidentally moved my photo to the right instead of to the left.” 

Frank stopped and looked at his keyboard for a moment, giving his mind a chance to catch up.

“Also, as a writer,” Frank said, “I thought it might be interesting to flesh this out in the sense of exploring how we both feel and think about the other and turn it into a short story. I don’t know what your intentions are. What would you like to happen? Do you want to meet for coffee? Do you want to work on an article? What is on your mind? What do you need? I look forward to hearing from you again.”


  1. Hm… again great intrigue! How will Nicole react after Frank’s torrent of truth and openness in the virtual world? I like the way he acts because of his honesty. Now it is up to Nicole to make the next move. Looking forward to the next chapter!

      • Frank honors his name while being frank. Nicole has a name of Greek origin meaning “the victory of the people”, derived from “Victory” (nikē) and “People” (laos) (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicole_(given_name). Is she going to be the victorious one in your story? In which terms should we talk about winning? Economic profit or survival in the Capitalist world? Self-realisation of our dreams? Finding a love partner that makes it a minimum of the aforesaid compatible? Or is Nicole a name to just hint at her intentions which might fail? Did you deliberately choose the names of Frank and Nicole according to the message your novel wants to send?

      • “Frank” was chosen for the reason you mentioned. “Nicole,” on the other hand, was chosen for its lightness of being, but as you define the name, I like that. This is exactly how she and the story should be perceived. It is a “victory for the people.” Truth is supposed to be obeyed. Nicole is supposed to be spoken to with truth, and even perhaps not. Frank is honest and full of his moods and desires, and he takes a chance by speaking his mind. A story is about the reader, and what happens to the reader. Frank is smitten by Nicole. But, are the people going to be victorious? We will see. In terms of profit and loss, we should not talk about Nicole’s losing. Her character cannot be abused if the theme of truth is to be adhered. Frank may wade in the pool of his openness, and even in being open, he may have adverse affect, but he is also surprised by her and her awareness, which perhaps is jumping the gun. Maybe the story doesn’t go there. I don’t think we know yet. This is a most important point you raise, in terms of economic profit, Nicole and Frank are in a relationship, if not an actual one, they are relating, transacting. If either or both is going to survive, I think that depends on whether they are both allowed to exist. Certainly, Nicole is validated by her age and beauty, her wit and charm. She is innocent. #Smiles# Frank’s privilege as a man, who in contemporary society announces himself, cannot be so intrusive as to suppress Nicole’s (and apparently “The people’s victory”). The capitalist would win, crushing his worker’s hopes and dreams by taking Nicole against her wishes. She gives her body to survive. But, the Capitalist would truly win, if he supported Nicole’s true desires and natural tendencies. Or else, society dies or distorts. The truth twists and turns into a schizophrenic reality. And yes, we realize ourselves and our limits through our dreams. I am not sure we know Nicole’s intentions yet, which is also an important point. But, in Frank’s case, and like the reader’s case, should Nicole’s intentions really matter? Can’t we project the kind of relationship they will have? As observers, do we not see how we influence the outcome? As citizens, what is our role in others’ relationships. What is our role in recognizing and supporting the truth? Our dreams are known, I guess to us, like wall flowers, sometimes we stand and merely observe and do not attempt to fulfill them. And maybe we cannot. And shouldn’t we find a partner with whom we are compatible? Less of course, that the person actually likes us as much as we like them, but can we? Have we? And with the pressures of capitalism, can we maintain a relationship at all? Maybe Frank is a capitalist? Maybe Frank as himself, in his honesty, is dangerous to the truth, even though he is being honest? One of the themes and issues I think is important in the current #MeToo! environment is this certainty in men of their “honest” affections, but at the same time, as it washes over the “object” of their desires, who is a person thinking their own thoughts. Because if the male could see the truth of what he is proposing, he might see how short-sighted he is. I remember Weinstein with almost childlike declarations toward the actresses to come into his room while he was only wearing a towel, almost forcing them into awkward and sexual roles. “Come on, I just want to give you a massage.” Or, “Let’s just take a shower, and then we can talk.” The actresses would understand it was a quid pro quo. But, true love can’t be about that. Both parties should be drawn by pheromones, physical compatibility, beliefs, attitude, and value similarly, except that we all know that marriage is sometimes done for reasons other than love. Our capitalist world, for example, requires reams of money. You almost have to be on top, to monopolize to succeed. Note Karl Marx’s explanation of how the machines made money for the capitalist but he had to run them and the supporting staff into the ground if he was going to control the market. If you didn’t control the market, you didn’t succeed. Everyone who didn’t have a machine, could only use their bodies to survive and bodies, like machines, broke down.

        So, women tire of the quid pro quo as it relates to sexual favors and the capitalist simply stipulates, as does Trump, that the porn star signs a non-disclosure agreement, and she knows when she enters the room what’s up. But, then we get back to the innocence of attraction. That perhaps Nicole is just playing. We don’t know yet.

  2. I see the relationship between Nicole and Frank like a game of chess or of any other similar game. Now it is Nicole’s turn. I look forward to what happens next.

  3. Yes, we will see how Nicole responds, and yes isn’t any beginning like a game, one makes a move and waits for the other to make one too? Otherwise, as is the point of #MeToo!, the man steps over the line and violates the rules. I think this too is an important theme of the story. Things are what they are, and there are two people here, not one.

  4. Hello again, Mario. I’m expecting to know what is going to happen after reading chapter 6. Frank is so direct. Now it depends on the girl. If she is a mature person she will be able to understand Frank and continue the game of this relationship. But perhaps she is like a young punk that only wants to enjoy the moment, like for example to laugh, to enjoy a party, to drink something and relish the night, without thinking about the future,etc… In that case I suppose Nicole will look for another person to go out with.

    • We don’t know Wladimir. But, I am with you, what is Nicole thinking, and what is she going to do? I find it interesting this “young punk” description. I do believe that intelligence is present early, certainly by the time a woman is 19 or 20.

  5. Mario,
    Your style is superb. I wish the subject of romantic love did not scare me the way it does! I personally tend to avoid getting into it. I’m far from being an expert, but I do enjoy your writing.

    • Oh Kat, I do not understand your aversion to love, the breeding of fluttering joy, two bodies warmly exploring desire, their bodies leaking and pitching, like boats in the rough sea, but warm, unsinkable, and standing before a fire. Have you never wanted to kiss the perfect man/woman (not knowing your preference)? How she/he stands, hard and pure? How his lips move and how every word is deep, resonating, more intelligent than the books you remember having to read in English class? How his ideas are elevated, problem-solving, and emotionally vacant, untrivialized by the weakness inherent in trusting another with your feelings? Maybe as a man, I am able to let go with such a woman. But, I am cautious. She is so much of what I want that I just stand there? How do I persuade her? What do I have that she wants? And I realize I am nothing but the night sky exploding with rockets, a light show of fireworks, every alarm bell going off; “This is your great love” whispering in my head even though she will say later, after I have given her all, that the night or day you met was just ordinary. She didn’t recognize it like that. How you made it up, not considering that it wasn’t about that at all. Is this the cruelness of love you are talking about? How one person in the relationship is “always conspiring-to-get-out”? No, I understand that. “Every lover I have maimed with my mistakes.” Loving with my whole heart what wasn’t shared. Awkward, uncomfortable, revealing of my whole life of cards was playing the wrong game. Regretting everything I thought was right, but actually weak, not prepared for the practicality of what was required to love her and be loved back. So, I sat in silence. Knowing I should have been somebody, because this is the woman I wanted. But, she wants babies and the freedom to raise them. But, I am a poet. I have no money and tremendous need to be alone to think and discover, to translate this very frustration. For life is a parallax view. Two lines of thought never intersecting. I can tell you that it isn’t the whole of anyone, but just parts, the parts you need, and accepting that, loving with forgiveness, because we must forgive ourselves. Does God give us what we want? No, to him, life is a lesson, which I think is only for him. He wants to use us to fix his own mistakes. Over and over again, we love. And that is the point I guess. To practice what goes out, but does not return.

      This story, my words, were intended to displace the seediness of the underlying story of a much older man and a young woman, as with Nabokov’s Lolita, and how the reader is so taken by the words and the manner of speaking, that the unseemliness of the events are not noticed, the trafficking of the young girl is misunderstood as correct, something innocent. Again, the lesson looms large of unrequited love, addiction, delusion, but perhaps an honorable point. But, I don’t know yet. What will happen? Or do I know? I am the writer. I am the person, who suspects the end. You wish romance did not scare you. You tend to avoid it. You are far from expert. But you enjoy what is written. I will take it and run with it. I have nothing else to barter. It is just another cold day. The characters have their own lives.

      • Too many questions Mario. My brain isn’t good today. These days rather. I am tired.

        All I can tell you is, I’m glad romantic love is important to you. I’m glad it’s important to others. I think that’s great. However, it’s just not something of any importance to me at moment! It’s a mirage! It’s not real! Again, I’m talking about myself.

        I love my family. I love my best friend. Non romantically. And I find I’m much happier this way. Waaaay less headache and I can actually focus. I can focus on work, my art..my life.

        Keep writing. I am me. You are…. you.

      • You have written very powerful prose-poetry in this comment, Mario, which shows how naturally talented you are. Your soul is really a poet’s, not like mine. I am jealous of your gift, lol! These torrential weaving of words is superb. Love this powerful imagery that comes like a torrent of words with pure catharsis:

        “…the breeding of fluttering joy, two bodies warmly exploring desire, their bodies leaking and pitching, like boats in the rough sea, but warm, unsinkable, and standing before a fire.”

        And this:

        “And I realize I am nothing but the night sky exploding with rockets, a light show of fireworks, every alarm bell going off;”

  6. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  7. Out of the shell!
    the tortoise said
    out of that hell!
    the price was paid.
    Now I am cold
    but not in vain
    as I am told
    I won the pain!
    I can walk free
    did nothing wrong
    there is no tree
    but I stay strong.

    I’m a bit old
    and just need love
    I’ll be a bit bold
    and play the dove.
    I found a girl
    on a dating site
    oh, how I swirl
    to her I write.
    She’s just too young
    or I’m too old
    but I’ve begun
    and now I’m sold.

    My name is Frank
    and she’s Nicole
    I’m not a prank
    yet she’s my goal.
    Told her the truth
    what will she do?
    she’s in her youth
    and I feel blue.
    Difference in age
    is not so good
    it is a cage
    you think I should?

    Inspired by poet Newton Ranaweera’s post: See, we’re free!!: https://newtoneapblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/see-were-free/, and by this chapter of yours.

  8. Pingback: A MOMENTS poetic comment–reblogged! | By the Mighty Mumford

  9. Frank is sincere and very direct in his message to Nicole. Put all the meat on the spit. A behavior, no doubt, very brave. Will Frank have his reward? What will Nicole think?
    I will read the next chapter as soon as possible …

    • Sincerity is a very important issue in the piece, I am glad you noticed that. I like your metaphor, where all is exposed on the fire, the penis cauterized, the meat unrecognizably prepared for a meal to sustain rather than to give life to perhaps an unacceptable dish. Does Frank expose himself for the sake of complete disclosure? Is disclosure also at issue? Do you think Frank expects a reward? And what does Nicole really think? I assume she is at least as complicated as he. I feel women are always more complicated because they receive the attention, as if given a poem that they then rework into gold.

  10. Pingback: “Gust Is Deaf, Hills Are Blind”. . . and other responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt | THE POET BY DAY

  11. I guess, this chapter represents ‘Truth’, because of how Frank told Nicole truthfully that he hasn’t read the books yet. I like this nature of Frank to tell Nicole the truth so that if Nicole likes him back, she would do it because of how Frank is, and not because what Frank seems to be. I personally appreciate that Frank told Nicole that he ‘feels weird’ contacting Nicole as she is much younger.

    And I just feel that Nicole did not accidentally swipe Frank’s picture to right instead of swiping it to left. I don’t know if I am correct.

    This chapter, again, is fascinating.

    • Yes, this is one point I want to make about the current atmosphere. Men have to be direct and women have to be in control, even to the point of men not saying or doing anything at all but leaving women alone. Women know when a man is interested and they may do what they want. I think that is the new normal.

      I am glad the character of Nicole ventured into communications with Frank. It is tantamount of importance to the story, but also must be true of people, in general or else the story fails.

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