"I'm co-dependent. I asked for too much to satisfy my own neediness rather than need. Oh, if only I could turn back the clock."
I immediately called Sharon and an emergency summit has been scheduled for 6:30 in Café Rouge. I hope I can get away without bloody Perpetua kicking up.
11 p.m. Strident evening. Sharon immediately launched into her theory on the Richard situation: "Emotional fuckwittage," which is spreading like wildfire among men over thirty. As women glide from their twenties to thirties, Shazzer argues, the balance of power subtly shifts. Even the most outrageous minxes lose their nerve, wrestling with the first twinges of existential angst: fears of dying alone and being found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian. Stereotypical notions of shelves, spinning wheels and sexual scrapheaps conspire to make you feel stupid, no matter how much time you spend thinking about Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon.
"And men like Richard," fumed Sharon, "play on the chink in the armor to wriggle out of commitment, maturity, honor and the natural progression of things between a man and a woman."
By this time Jude and I were going, "Shhh, shhh," out of the corners of our mouths and sinking down into our coats. After all, there is nothing so unattractive to a man as strident feminism.
"How dare he say you were getting too serious by asking to go on holiday with him?" yelled Sharon. "What is he talking about?"
Thinking moonily about Daniel Cleaver, I ventured that not all men are like Richard. At which point Sharon started on a long illustrative list of emotional fuckwittage in progress in our friends: one whose boyfriend of thirteen years refuses even to discuss living together; another who went out with a man four times who then chucked her because it was getting too serious; another who was pursued by a bloke for three months with impassioned proposals of marriage, only to find him ducking out three weeks after she succumbed and repeating the whole process with her best friend.
"We women are only vulnerable because we are a pioneer generation daring to refuse to compromise in love and relying on our own economic power. In twenty years' time men won't even dare start with fuckwittage because we will just laugh in their faces," bellowed Sharon.
At this point Alex Walker, who works in Sharon's company, strolled in with a stunning blonde who was about eight times as attractive as him. He ambled over to us to say hi.
"Is this your new girlfriend?" asked Sharon.
"Well. Huh. You know, she thinks she is, but we're not going out, we're just sleeping together. I ought to stop it really, but, well ...," he said, smugly.
"Oh, that is just such crap, you cowardly, dysfunctional little schmuck. Right. I'm going to talk to that woman," said Sharon, getting up. Jude and I forcibly restrained her while Alex, looking panic-stricken, rushed back, to continue his fuckwittage unrumbled.
Eventually the three of us worked out a strategy for Jude. She must stop beating herself over the head with Women Who Love Too Much and instead think more toward Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, which will help her to see Richard's behavior less as a sign that she is co-dependent and loving too much and more in the light of him being like a Martian rubber band which needs to stretch away in order to come back.
"Yes, but does that mean I should call him or not?" said Jude.
"No," said Sharon, just as I was saying, "Yes."
After Jude had gone--because she has to get up at 5:45 to go to the gym and see her personal shopper before work starts at 8:30 (mad)--Sharon and I suddenly were filled with remorse and self-loathing for not advising Jude simply to get rid of Vile Richard because he is vile. But then, as Sharon pointed out, last time we did that they got back together and she told him everything we'd said in a fit of reconciliatory confession and now it is cripplingly embarrassing every time we see him and he thinks we are the Bitch Queens from Hell--which, as Jude points out, is a misapprehension because, although we have discovered our Inner Bitches, we have not yet unlocked them.
From Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding. © 1997 by Helen Fielding. Used by permission of the Viking Press.
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