“Jake Leaming,” said the grifter Count Victor Justin, “is a real friend of the Sunflower brigade, and that’s for certain. Maybe even its true head, after Oscar himself. Like most morphodites, he thinks his turds are made of chocolate ice cream, because every time he goes sliding into shit, he ends up smelling like a rose. His oafish pal Smash Conklin, on the other hand, is mostly a simple stupid lout–too stupid to even act crazy. To act crazy, I think, you got to have at least some degree of intelligence. But when he’s looching about with that Nance, Jake Leaming, I guess he manages to leach some brain power out of the man, because–have you noticed?–he commences to acting all goofy.
“Sanity is a most precarious thing–especially in our trade, and amongst the demimonde in general.
“Women? We won’t even talk about women. They’re all insane–ain’t they?–at least to some degree or t’other. And it’s men as makes them that way. Men make ’em insane, and then they make ’em sane again, once the twitchets drop a few bairns and get settled down. Y’see, women are more like animals than the menfolk. They have an advanced sense of smell–j’ever notice?–and a highly developed aversion to disgusting things, like menfolk who don’t wash regular. Women operate on instinct, and have intuitions that menfolk simply can’t be bothered with, concerned as we are with mere survival in a cold world of all against all. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not kicking about being a man–hard times keeps us sharp. When women have it soft, as lots of ’em do, it makes ’em dull. So they tend to overcompensate. They’re always upset with you, for one reason or another. It doesn’t have to be a valid one. Any pretext will do. It’s their nature. There’s simply no satisfying them. They always find something to moan about. Now, here’s the lousy part. When you first hitch up with them,. they SEEM perfectly normal. Almost too good to be true, as a matter of fact. When they are happy they don’t get snappy. There seems to be absolutely nothing that they won’t do for you. But then–and I’ve noticed this in dogs, too–as they age out, they become crotchety and growly. Always wanting you to tell them that you love them, and you find them pretty, and desirable. Always needing some sort of reassurance, in other words. Oh–and here’s the kicker–the fact that proves they’re delusional, if not out and out goofy–when you lie to her, and she catches you, it’s a very big deal. She’ll never trust you again–all men are brutes–how could you–et cetera, et cetera. But she lies to you all the time. With impunity. She knows you won’t get all ruffled. In fact, she counts on you not to make a fuss. When she rifles through your pockets. When she opens your mail. When, in a jealous rage, she destroys your property.
“The crazy starts to come out while you’re in the courtship phase, if you have eyes to see it. Sure, she may have an incredible twitchet. But she’s also got them there those crazy eyes. And they’re a-watching you. Always. And you never know what the owner of them will do, or what will set her off. One day she has long hair; the next day she’s cut it off. Other women are wicked and wayward temptresses; not her. She doesn’t get along with other women because they’re jealous of her; she doesn’t get along with men because most of them aren’t man enough for a woman like her. She believes the most improbable things. Not only is Jesus Lord of all living things, but He talks to her. He tells her that you and her were meant to be together forever and forevermore. Not only is the moon made of green cheese, but they got moon maidens and crystal rock palaces, and snakes with diamonds in their heads. You’d best be careful about having knives in the house, because she just might decide to cut you. She’s so crazy that her own parents have given up on her. She’s so crazy that one drink and she’s under the table. Two drinks and she’s under the host. Three drinks and she’s peeling off all her clothes, much to the gratification of all and sundry. She comes home with black eyes and improbable tales of walking into doorknobs. She owns more cats than she has hands to feed them. Pretty soon, she has you so bollixed up that you start to think that maybe you’re crazy.
“Oh, and you can never tell her to calm down, or to act reasonable. That’s guaranteed to make her more insane. It goes beyond the fact that she’s utterly delusional. She is likely to be so vain that she sees nothing wrong with her behavior. Nothing whatsoever. And she’ll accuse you of being the unreasonable one. And she’s also likely to tell you to stop yelling at her, even if you’re talking at barely above a whisper. That’s where men and women truly differ. You can holler at a yellof and he’s not going to take it as a capital offense. At worst, he’ll say ‘Don’t yell at me, Yob’ and tell you to put your dukes up and maybe offer to give you a little poke in the snoot. I think that women are hoping for by using this little gambit of theirs is that you will start yelling and screaming so they can think they’ve got one over on you. Why they should feel the need to do this is something I’ll never fathom. But there you have it. Maybe they think that if they succeed with their little game, they can bend you to their will. God only knows that a lot of men are suckers and will back down when they’re confronted by an angry woman. They fear that mindless rage. Because that’s all it really is. A woman who wants to be a man, but doesn’t want to pay the price. It’s the same sad story the world over. Give ’em an inch, and they’ll take an ell. So you give them nothing. You laugh at them and tell them they’re being ridiculous and you’re not going to take it and that they can do whatever they want–but the party’s over as far as you’re concerned.
“At least half the time she’ll get crazier still, but she’ll learn soon enough that the game is over.
“Especially after you walk away.
“Actually, scratch that. Don’t walk away–run. Run!”