She talked to the woman who lived in a plastic bag half a block from Brita’s building. This person knew some things about bundling and tying. Survival means you learn how to narrow the space you take up for fear of arousing antagonistic interest and it also means you hide what you own inside something else so that you may seem to possess one chief thing when it is really many things bundled and tied and placed inside each other, a secret universe of things, unwhisperable, plastic bags inside plastic bags, adn the woman is somwhere in there too, bagged with her possessions.
All in all, though, one can hardly disagree with the assessment that euphemisms are irrational and quaintly uncandid: ‘They are only intelligible when both parties are in on the secret, and their silly innocence masks a guilty complicity, which is why they almost invariably wear a knowing, naughty-postcard smirk. At the close of the taboo-breaking century, they ought to have become comically redundant’ (Powell). Even so, they thrive as much today as ever.
In the end, too, they leave a linguistic garbage-heap in their wake. Once a euphemism becomes standard, it loses its euphemistic quality…
Kromer is seen by his more tentative friends, a bunch of graduate students and legal proof-readers, as some kind of satyr, yet he knows he is nothing in comparison to his former schoolmate, the reckless Greta, “a raven-haired, baggy-eyed heiress.” The story unfolds in the complicated middle ground that Kromer occupies. Were you ever tempted to make him one or the other—purely tentative or completely reckless?
I’m helpless not to wander into these middle ranges. The characters and situations that seem to compel me are the mutts, the neither-nors. But then again, nearly any character, viewed from the inside, and given the chance to complicate your question, might define themselves as being paradoxical or ambivalent—don’t we tend to compensate for the impression we make on others? I can hear Greta, having read the story, arguing that she’s really an old-fashioned girl at heart, hopes to meet Prince Charming, etc.—while the grad students would avidly protest that they had capacities for the wild side (or else why would they give Kromer the time of day in the first place?).
'It pretends not to see the horror and death at the end of the schemes it builds. This is a protest against the future. They want to hold off the future. They want to normalize it, keep it from overwhelming the present.'
'To pull back now would not be authentic. It would be a quotation from other people's lives. A paraphrase of a sensible text that wants you to believe there are plausible realities, okay, that can be traced and analyzed.'
'Days like this. He snaps a finger and a flame shoots up. Every sensitivity, all his attunements. Things are ready to happen that normally never do. She knows what he means, that they don't even have to touch. The same thing that's happening to him is happening to her. She doesn't need to crawl under the table and suck his dick. Too trite to interest either one of them. The flow is strong between them… He doesn't have to do the unspeakable thing he wants to do. He only has to speak it. Because they're beyond every model of established behavior. He only has to say the words.'