409. Sex and the Country
For most New Yorkers, Manhattan is the center of the civilized world. But for a privileged few, Manhattan is merely a place to kill time between weekends at their fashionably rustic New York country homes.
Wow, yeah, the place looks great.
I was willing to forgo the privilege.
- That's the ''before'' picture. - Sorry.
- That's the after. - Could I see the before again?
- You kinda have to be there to appreciate it. - No, I can appreciate it from here.
Luckily you won't have to, since you're coming up there with me next week.
I am? Man, I wish I could. But I have a meeting with my editor in town next week.
That's all right, it's only 40 minutes away. You take the train in for your meeting. Then right back out when you're done.
You've just thought of everything, haven't you?
Pack your bags, little lady. You're coming to the country with me.
That's Miranda, I gotta go. We'll talk about this later.
- Nothing left to talk about. - Yes, there is. I'll be right down. - I'm coming up.
See...I'm what you call a bona fide city girl. I'm a girl about town. I'm the kind of girl that goes to a late movie in the middle of the week. I'm crazy.
- I know it. - Hi, there. - Hello.
Could you tell your little pal, Steve, to call his insurance company? They can't find him and they think that I'm his in-case-of-emergency person. So, he needs to update that whole file.
- I know he wants to talk to you about some stuff, too. - Like what? - Some stuff.
No, what is he gonna tell me? Now that Jessica's gone, he wants to start seeing me again? That he can't stop thinking about me? That he's still in love with me?
- Steve's got testicular cancer. - That I'm a horrible, selfish bitch?
Several blocks south, Charlotte also found herself in a compromising position.
Whatever it is you're doing, don't stop.
- It's a fertility exercise. - I know a better one.
No, not yet. My basal body temperature reading says I won't be ovulating for another five days.
Perfect. That means we have five days of practice to get it right.
No, we can't. You need to conserve your juices till then, so they'll be at their most powerful.
Darling, I'm juicy now.
I'm sorry, it's just... we've been trying for three months, and I don't wanna take any chances. Can't it wait until Saturday?
We're gonna be in Connecticut on Saturday. We promised mother.
I know. But I was thinking maybe we could stay here and concentrate on this.
She's expecting us. We miss the orchid show, she'll be devastated.
Then I guess we'll just have to have sex at your mother's.
People having sex in Connecticut? There's a first time for everything.
It's no big deal. The doctor said it's very trendy now. Lance Armstrong had it, the Drew Barry-more guy.
Everybody's getting it. It's the TiVo of cancers.
That's right, it's no big deal. He's just gotta get in there and snip one of those guys out of there and I'm done.
Good, so, then it's stage one, right? I looked it up on the net.
- Yeah, I guess so. - You guess so? You don't know?
What? Sure, stage one, you have the operation.
No, stage one, the cancer hasn't spread to the lymph nodes. Has it? Your doctor gave you an ultrasound, right? A CAT scan?
You know, I mean... I turned my head, I coughed. He poked around a little.
Who the hell is this doctor? Has he got a storefront outside Port Authority?
No, he's nice. I got him through my HMO.
Then he must be good. Steve, look... I talked to some guys in my office who have been through this.
Don't worry, I used a pseudonym. They gave me the name of a specialist at Beth Israel.
You don't have to do that. You don't have to do anything. I have a doctor, it's no big deal.
Will you stop saying that? It is a big deal! This isn't your crazy yellow toenail. This is cancer. The longer you wait to find out what's going on, the longer we sit here having this conversation, the more likely it is that the cancer will spread and that you will die. It is a big fucking deal!
I made him cry. No, first, I yelled at him. I yelled at my friend, the cancer patient. Then I made him cry.
It's understandable. I mean, you just lost your mom. I'm sure you have a lot of pent up, residual anger.
Maybe, but mostly he was just pissing me off.
Sounds like he needed the good kick in the ass, which you gave him.
You know what you need? A nice, relaxing weekend with me at Aidan's country house.
You're not actually going, are you?
If by ''going'' you mean being taken against my will and kidnapped, then yes, I'm going. So, enjoy me now, ladies. Because this weekend I'm a hick town hostage.
I can't go, Steve has cancer. Somebody has to stay in town and make him feel bad about it.
You're at the Connecticut compound? Come on! It's like we're living in Paris and running off to Provence for the weekend.
What is it about the weekends now? I swear to God, every guy I've fucked since Memorial Day wants to know what I'm doing this weekend. They just don't get it. My weekends are for meeting new guys, so I don't have to fuck the old ones.
That's a no, I guess? I guess I'll have to brave the wilderness on my own.
No. Not on your own, with Aidan.
And I love Aidan. And Aidan loves the country. Maybe I'll love the country.
Wait a minute. Just because Aidan loves the country, you have to love it, too?
Apparently that's how it works.
I see. You need to pretend to be someone else to be in a relationship.
No, I believe the word you're looking for is ''compromise.''
It's true. Trey loves golf, so, I'm taking golf lessons. Trey loves Bunny, so, I'm ovulating at the orchid show.
Which hick town is it exactly?
It's too terrible and too ironic. It's Suffern. Suffern, New York.
Sounds like you better take some Buffern to Suffern.
Well? There's a lake right over there. One mile. This floor's all original. Dates back to 1874. The plumbing's 1974, so, of course, it needs work. But I put in a hot water heater all by myself. What do you think? Scary as you thought it'd be?
No. God, no.
It was scarier.
- Good. Let me stick this stuff in the back. And I'll give you the grand tour. - I'll be here.
So, there I was... trapped in a cabin that was outdated even by CiviI War standards when I could've been out cocktailing and sample saleing.
What is it? What happened? Are you ok?
No! Oh, my God! There was a huge, giant squirrel in that window, right there.
That's my squirrel. I've been sneaking little nuts out there. Hoping he'd come make friends, and he did.
You can't be friends with a squirrel. A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.
Is that right?
''That's my squirrel''? Any more Wild Kingdom surprises I should know about?
Let's see, just...
Hours later, we discovered one satisfying way to pass the time in the country. Just not enough time. There I was, miles from home, hours from sleep with no one to talk to, nowhere to go, and nothing to do except.... Three hours, two mosquitoes, and one too many Vodka KooIAids later. I finally found an outlet for my computer, but not my frustration.
Relationships, no matter how good, are inevitably a series of compromises. But how much of ourselves should we be willing to sacrifice for the other person before we stop being ourselves?
In a relationship, when does the art of compromise become compromising?
Meanwhile, back at the center of the civilized world...
So, what are you doing next weekend? What did I say?
Tired of being the ''wake up and smell the coffee'' girl, Miranda invited Steve over for tea and sympathy. Or in Steve's case, Chinese food and Chop Socky.
I thought you hated these movies.
Yeah, but you don't. And the guy at Video Village said this one rocks, so... You want the last spring roll?
No, that's yours.
No, I don't want it. You have it. Shit! They forgot the tea. Did you want tea? I can make some.
- That's it, I'm out of here. - Why, where are you going?
Home. You think I wanna stay here, and be treated like some fuckin' cancer patient?
What are you talking about?
Since when don't you want the last spring roll? You usually eat all these spring roll. I'm lucky if I see a spring roll.
I'm sorry, I felt bad. In the park, you needed a shoulder to cry on. And I was a total bitch to you.
Yeah, you were. You know what, thank God, because now I have a doctor who knows what he's doing. I scheduled my operation, and I have insurance that's gonna pay for it. So, thank you for being a huge bitch. Give me that spring roll.
The next day at the MacDougal's Connecticut compound, Bunny gave Charlotte a tour of her nursery.
Since my boys have all grown up, my orchids have become my babies. And this year, Waxie Hanahan's Chocolate Oncidium will be no match for my Rising Suns.
I'm pleased you think so, Charlotte. I've repotted this one for you to take home.
No, I couldn't.
- But I insist. A gift in anticipation of the great gift you're giving me. - What gift is that?
Why, a grandchild, my dear. You mustn't be cross with Trey for telling me. He knows how anxious I am to have a wee MacDougal to carry on the family name.
I couldn't get any sleep at all last night. The silence out here is deafening.
You are in the country.
Then I go to take a shower and there's no water. So, now, he's working on the pipes all day, so I finally had to leave the house before I dehydrated.
- Welcome to Frozen Cup. - Yes, I'd like a cheeseburger, please, large fries, and a Cosmopolitan?
- What? - A strawberry shake, please.
Where are you?
I'm at the Frozen Cup in HoHoKus. I had to freaking drive to New Jersey to get cell service, and apparently, the only way to get anything to eat in the country is to make it yourself. I'm in no mood for Bisquick.
It could be worse. Bunny's already picking out names and schools for her grandchild. I'm not even pregnant yet. She wouldn't even let the cook put shrimp in my omelet this morning.
You have a cook? How far is my country from your country?
How is the house?
What house? He's got squirrels running in here and there. It's Animal Farm. Four legs good, two legs bad.
You didn't say that to him, did you?
No. He thinks I love it. I don't even know what I'm doing out here.
- You're keeping him company. - I'm trying, but he's out there hoeing.
- So, try harder, go hoe. - All right.
So, what are we gonna be doing? Are we gonna be schlepping these railroad ties over to the mudhole?
- Yes. Ma’am. - All righty, then.
- Don't hurt yourself. - I'm not gonna hurt myself.
- All right, you ready? Here you go. You ok? - I'm fine, it's just mud.
- Ok. - Oh, God. Ok, go! Shit!
Ok, I'm not being helpful anymore. I think I should get back to the city. I have that meeting to get ready for. And several showers to take.
Four hours later, I kissed Aidan goodbye, kicked the mud off my boots, and had a New York steak with my New York ex.
I tried, I really did, but nature and me... it's unnatural. And I love being with Aidan. I mean, there's no one in the world that I would rather be... I'm sorry. Is it ok to talk to you about this stuff?
Go ahead, I'm ok.
Good. I'm glad that we can talk about this stuff. And listen, if you ever meet someone, I want you to feel…
- I met someone. - So, who is she?
- If I tell you, you can't tell anyone. - Is she your imaginary girlfriend?
- She's an actress. Willow Summers. - She's not an actress, she's a movie star.
Did you see that Spy GirI movie? I thought she was pretty good.
I don't know about that. I do know she wears many wrong things on the red carpet. I cannot believe you are dating... someone named after a tree.
- She's really something. - How did you meet her?
She came up to me at her premiere thing and asked for a light and said, ''I have two vices, smoking and green-eyed men.''
She's a smoothie.
We talked, had a few... went up to her hotel... dress comes off... red panties. Kept her high heels on. I lifted her up, I put her on the bed…
Ok, that's plenty. Thanks. That was about 30 seconds. I think I did pretty good. How's the stock market treating you these days?
The thing of it is, I can't get her out of my head. She's crazy about me. Willow Summers is crazy about me.
- Someone's crazy. - I'm not kidding. When I walked home from her hotel…
- You walked? - Yeah. I thought, this is something. There's something here, a connection.
- Yeah, the red panty, green-eyed connection. - Fuck. I think I'm in love.
As I walked off my Big dinner, I realized I'd gone from pretending I didn't hate being in the country to pretending I didn't hate listening to Big's Willow talk. I may have been back in the city, but now I was really suffering. One thing was clear. I had to get back to the country. But this time, I wouldn't rely on the country to provide the entertainment. I would take the entertainment with me. Otherwise known as Samantha.
- What's next, Samantha? - You've got to be kidding me.
Come on. We're baking a pie here.
You're baking a pie. I'm just baking. It's hotter here than it is outside. Can't we turn on the air conditioning or something?
One cup of milk. No, we can't. There is no air conditioner. Or milk for that matter.
What time's the next train?
No, you can't go. You have to entertain me when Aidan goes to bed in an hour.
- You lured me here under false pretenses. - I told you that it was rustic.
Honey, don't kid yourself. It's a dump.
Aidan worked very hard on this place. Did you know that he put that hot water heater in all by himself? With his own bare hands.
Actually, I was wearing gloves at the time, but thanks for the shout out. Is it hot in here or is it just me?
- It isn't you. - I'm preheating the oven.
It couldn't be any hotter in here. Or could it? Who's the farmer with the delts?
- Young McDonald? - E-I-E-I-O!
That's Luke Gilmore. Came out here from the city after the last big market crash. He doesn't say much, kinda keeps to himself.
- So, what does he do out here? - Pushups, by the look of him.
Oh, no. What are you up to, SammyJo?
Honey, if we're gonna bake us a pie, we're gonna need us some milk.
- Anybody home? - You lost?
No. I'm staying next door, and I'm baking a pie from scratch. And I suddenly realized... fresh out of milk.
- Help yourself. You from New York City? - Yes. But only until I can afford a little farm all my own.
- Ever milk a cow before? - No. But something tells me I'd be very good at it.
Squeeze off the milk with your thumb and forefinger. Then roll down into a fist. Squeeze and roll. Squeeze and roll. I think I can do that. Squeeze and roll. Squeeze... I usually get a little warning before that happens. I guess it just takes practice. Anything else around here need milking?
While Samantha worked up an appetite…
Trey, are you up here?
...Charlotte's eggs were ready.
In the bath.
It's time. I'm ovulating. So, get out of the tub, get into this bed, and make love to me right now!
Charlotte, I was just telling Trey how much you remind me of myself at your age.
- There you are. What are you doing in here? - What were you doing up there?
- Up where? What do you mean? - What do I mean? Your mother was watching you bathe.
She was not. We were having a conversation while I was in the bath.
I don't know how you were brought up. But that is not acceptable parent child bath time behavior past the age of 5! Even 4 in some cases. lf you think that I'm bringing a child into that, that I will be that kind of mother, then you better think again. She may have raised you like that, but I am not your mother.
I was raised by a woman named Eva Neal. She was my nanny. I don't remember ever seeing my mother ever, except after her tennis lesson and before the cocktail hour when she would draw me a bath and tell me how she'd spent her day. So, I know, I have always known that you could never ever be that kind of mother.
- That's my ovaries. I'm ovulating. - We'd better get to work.
Ok, but I have to get in the right position. Wait, stop, not like that. I have to get my legs up.
While trying to make a baby, Charlotte and Trey accidentally destroyed Bunny's, and Waxie Hanahan's Chocolate Oncidium won first prize for the second year in a row.
Back in New York, the patient Steve was greeted by a patient Miranda.
- You're up. How are you? - On drugs. How long you been here?
- Not long. A while. Is that ok? I...I talked to the doctor. - Yeah, how's he?
He said everything looked pretty good down there. I told him, frankly, I'd seen better.
Sorry. Visiting hours are over. You're going to have to leave now.
No, I'm sorry, I don't think so.
- Are you a family member? - I'm his in-case-of-emergency person.
- It’s ok, Miranda, if you wanna go. - Shut up or I'll give you a sponge bath.
- Twenty minutes. - Drink your juice.
Meanwhile, on his farm, Young McDonald had Samantha.
- That was good. - You're a man of few words, but they're all the right ones.
What are you doing next weekend?
Look! I made crust! Now all we have to do is put apples in and it’s pie.
Look at that.
No, you don't understand. The only thing that I have ever successfully made in the kitchen is a mess. And several little fires. Come on, you feel like peeling some apples?
I feel like taking a shower.
Now? No! You've been outside all day, and I've been cooped up in here. Look, we'll do it together. lt'll be fun, all right? Oh, god. Damn it.
It's a squirrel! Are you ok?
No, I am not ok! I burned my legs! And I... God! I hate that squirrel! I hate this oven! I hate this!
House, just say it, you hate the house.
- I hate the house. - Thank you.
I'm sorry, I just... I don't belong here. I don't know where anything goes and I burned my legs. It really hurts.
Come here. Jump up here. Come on. Where is it? Oh, there it is. Is that better?
I'm sorry. I don't hate the house. I hate the squirrel.
The squirrel's not so bad. The house, it'll get better. You'll see.
Maybe from now on I should just come on the weekends.
- Yeah, or every other weekend. - I don't have to come at all.
- Ok. - Weekends are good.
One slow train ride and two fast-food apple pies later...
These are surprisingly delicious.
I know. Why would anybody go to the trouble of making one when you can buy one that's so perfect, and individually sized? Wait a minute, hold still, sweetie.
- What? - Souvenir?
Please, I am never leaving this city again.
Taxi! Actually, the country's looking pretty good to me right about now.
- Really, so you'll be back next weekend? - Not next weekend, no.
- So, when are you going back? - You gonna finish that pie?
In the end, of course, Aidan and I compromised. He spent money on air conditioning. And I spent enough time in Suffern to realize that city girls are just country girls... with cuter outfits.