And now, from our 'Meaningful Differences' department, here is:

Source: Teri Davis < >

Let's say a guy named Fred is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He
asks her out to a movie; she accepts. They have a pretty good time. A few
nights later, he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy

They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one
of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to
Elaine and without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as
of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

And then there is silence in the car.

To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself:
Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling
confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him
into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Fred is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of
relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space so I'd
have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way
we are, moving steadily toward .... I mean, where are we going? Are we
just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we
heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I
ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?!

And Fred is thinking: ... so that means it was ... let's see ...
February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the
dealer's, which means ... lemme check the odometer..... Whoa! I am way
overdue for an oil change here!

And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe
I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our
relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed-even
before I sensed it-that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's
why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid
of being rejected!

And Fred is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission
again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting
right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What
cold weather? It's 87 degrees out and this thing is shifting like a garbage
truck and I paid those incompetent thieves $600!

And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be
angry, too. God, I feel so guilty putting him through this, but I can't help
the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Fred is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day waranty.
That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a
knight to come riding up on his white horse when I'm already sitting right next
to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly
do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me, a person who is
in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy ...

And Fred is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty?! I'll give them
a damn warranty!

"Fred," Elaine says aloud.

"What?" says Fred, startled.

"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning
to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have ... oh God, I feel so

(She breaks down, sobbing)

"What?" says Fred.

"I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I
really know that. It's silly. There's no knight and there's no horse."

"There's no horse?" says Fred.

"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.

"No!" says Fred, glad to finally know the correct answer.

"It's just that ... it's that I ... I need some time," Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Fred, thinking as fast as he can,
tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he
thinks might work.) "Yes," he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.) "Oh, Fred, do you really feel
that way?" she says.

"What way?" says Fred.

"That way about time," says Elaine.

"Oh," says Fred. "Yes."
(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to
become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it
involves a horse. At last she speaks.) "Thank you, Fred," she says.

"Thank you," says Fred.

Then he takes her home and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured
soul and weeps until dawn; whereas when Fred gets back to his place, he opens
a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeplh involved
in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard
of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something
major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no
way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't
think about it. (This is also Fred's policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day, Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of
them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In
painstaking detail they will analyze everything she said and everything
he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word,
expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible

They will continue to discuss this subject off and on for weeks, maybe
months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored
with it either.

Meanwhile, Fred, while playing raquetball one day with a mutual fried of
his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: "Norm, did
Elaine ever own a horse?"

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