On Saturday, Hortense asked if we'd be able to watch movies by Polanski apologists. Maybe — but can we date them? And what if they also like rape jokes?
Meet "Karen." Karen writes for a website that is not this one. She met "Joe" on an online personals site, and they exchanged a few e-mails trying to set up a drink. He called her "Sparky," was a little slow getting back to her, and made an excuse about illness and religious obligations — which he tries make again below. Where the emails were unsigned, I've prepended the senders' names for clarity. I've also cut some of the initial correspondence in the interests of space, but here's where things get good. Or rather, crappy:
Karen: My parents are in town this weekend, and then next week I'm heading to DC, which leaves me with only this upcoming Monday night free for a drink in the next week and a half. Any chance that works for you and we can meet before this becomes an epic tale of two ships?
Joe: I dunno. What about tonight?
Karen: Tonight I'm working on a deadline, alas.
Joe: On what? Finish it up already.
Karen: You're impatient for a guy who kept me waiting two entire weeks between the first and second email. It's an oped for [website] about the whole Polanski business. And I just started.
[an hour later]
Karen: Soooo... you're busy googling me now, I guess? Let me know what you think, and if we can make Monday happen...
Joe: Hey...High holidays and sick, remember?
And no, I am not googling you. Should I? I don't know your last name, remember?
As for Monday, I'll check my schedule. I suggested tonight because it seemed like a better strategy.
Karen: Yeah yeah. High holidays and sick only accounts for the second week, Sparky.
You certainly could google me with what you have now. I think "Karen [website]" would do the trick. It's an unusual spelling. But if you do it, you have to give me fair access and spill something that will make you google-able. After all, you're going to get over 20K hits on me once you track down my last name...
Joe: I'm not googling you. It's no fun when someone WANTS you to do it. Also, where is your creativity? You are calling me by the nickname I gave you?
Karen: Hmmmm... you're contrary, in possession of extraordinary impulse control, or YOU HAVE A GOOGLEABLE SECRET YOU DON'T WANT ME TO FIND? Or could it be... all three? Only time will tell.
And now you want me to give you your own nickname on top of it all? Patience, Grasshopper.
Am I patience, or Grasshopper? And if you are on deadline...how do you have so much time to write?
Karen: I don't. In fact, Grasshopper, you and your impertinent banter are distracting me from my socially important work. Way to go. I suggest you busy yourself clearing your schedule for Monday evening instead.
Joe: By all means, we all know how deeply relevant the Roman Polanski case is. Personally, I'll forgive a lot from the man who gave us Chinatown. She's my sister, My daughter! My Sister!
Just Fuckin fantastic!
I'll let you know about Monday.
Karen: I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt on this, but with a bit of unsolicited advice: It's best not to make rape or even rape-adjacent jokes via email with someone who's never even heard your tone of voice, and so finds it hard to interpret it in print.
What? That wasn't a joke. I was quoting from one of the greatest and most fucked up endings of all time.
But now this feels weird, so lets' just call the whole thing off, okay?
Best of luck!
Whoa. Grasshopper. Take a deep breath, mmmkay? The part I wasn't sure how to take (aka, how much you were joking about) was whether you were in the camp of folks who'll really forgive Polanski anything b/c he makes awesome movies, or if you were mocking those that make that argument. Which, obviously, I think is a socially relevant question, otherwise I'd be having drinks with you right now instead of staying up trying to churn out coherent prose at 11:30PM.
You seem like someone who likes to debate ideas, so I'd be bummed if you're this easily spooked, but I guess there's not much I can do about it if you are. If you change your mind, I'm still free Monday.
[the next night]
Here is the thing. All I ever talk about is rape jokes. That's it. It's a weird neurological condition. It has been hard on my family, but me most of all. But if you are okay with that, let's meet for a drink. I am not sure about Monday though.
[three days later]
So... you respond to my concern about rape jokes not by clarifying what you meant in the first place but by making a joke about rape jokes? Klassy. I think perhaps you were right - let's quit while we're ahead.
P.S. - Since you obviously did not google me, here's the piece I was working on Wednesday night: [link redacted]
How long did you think of writing that? Dial it down. I am not your enemy. You are your enemy, here I think.
And no, I did not read your work. I prefer to not read people's professional work before I meet them. And since I won't be meeting you, it seems a waste of my time, no? I also avoid serious conversations about rape before I meet someone. But for the record, since I have had to be a de facto counselor for friends who have been sexually assaulted, i can say emphatically I am against it. The Polanski case has a lot more complications to it, though, not the least of which include judicial misconduct, and a victim who desperately wants the case to go away.
So let's just say we've both had the last word here, so we can move onto exchanges with other people that have a future.
Wow. Narcissistic much? I rolled my eyes when I got your response a few days ago, then went on with a pretty busy weekend until this afternoon, when I remembered that I hadn't responded to you and that you might still think we were trying to have plans. Hope it doesn't break your heart that I didn't obsess about you all weekend.
For the record, I have no idea what the fuck you mean about me being my own enemy, but I'm pretty clear you're not mine - you're just a jackass more interested in telling me to "dial it down" about my life's work than he is in actually being real for a minute about a very real subject, and would rather make lame, passive-agressive jokes than take even the time it takes to say "maybe this is too serious a conversation to have over email."
I'm sure you'll take this email in some way that convinces you that you're far superior to me. Enjoy that feeling.
Please stop writing me. I think I've made it clear I am not interested. I do not want to have to block you or report you. Please leave me alone.