The Rosie Project Page 36

He was referring to the skeleton I was using for practice. I had obtained it on loan from the Anatomy Department, and no one had asked what I required it for. Judging from the pelvis size, it was almost certainly a male skeleton, but this was irrelevant for dancing practice. I explained its purpose to Gene, pointing out the scene from the film Grease that was showing on the wall of my office.

\So,\ said Gene, \Ms Right - sorry, Dr Right, PhD, just popped into your inbox.\

\Her name\s not Wright,\ I said, \it\s Rivera.\

\Photo?\

\Not necessary. The meeting arrangements are quite precise. She\s coming to the faculty ball.\

\Oh shit.\ Gene went silent for a while and I resumed dancing practice. \Don, the faculty ball is Friday after next.\

\Correct.\

\You can\ learn to dance in nine days.\

\Ten. I started yesterday. The steps are trivial to remember. I just need to practise the mechanics. They\ e considerably less demanding than martial arts.\

I demonstrated a sequence.

\Very impressive,\ said Gene. \Sit down, Don.\

I sat.

\I hope you\ e not too pissed off at me about Rosie,\ he said.

I had almost forgotten. \Why didn\ you tell me she was a psychology student? And about the bet?\

\From what Claudia said, you guys seemed to be having a good time. I thought if she wasn\ telling you it was for a reason. She may be a bit twisted but she\s not stupid.\

\Perfectly reasonable,\ I said. On matters of human interaction, why argue with a professor of psychology?

\I\m glad one of you is all right with it,\ said Gene. \I have to tell you, Rosie was a little unhappy with me. A little unhappy with life. Listen, Don, I persuaded her to go to the ball. Alone. If you knew how often Rosie takes my advice, you\d realise what a big deal that was. I was going to suggest you do the same.\

\Take your advice?\

\No, go to the ball - alone. Or invite Rosie as your partner.\

I now saw what Gene was suggesting. Gene is so focused on attraction and se* that he sees it everywhere. This time he was totally in error.

\Rosie and I discussed the question of a relationship explicitly. Neither of us is interested.\

\Since when do women discuss anything explicitly?\ said Gene.

I visited Claudia for some advice on my crucial date with Bianca. I assumed that she would be there in her role as Gene\s wife, and I advised her that I might require assistance on the night. It turned out she wasn\ even aware of the ball.

\Just be yourself, Don. If she doesn\ want you for yourself, then she\s not the right person for you.\

\I think it\s unlikely that any woman would accept me for myself.\

\What about Daphne?\ asked Claudia.

It was true - Daphne was unlike the women I had dated. This was excellent therapy;refutation by counter-example. Perhaps Bianca would be a younger, dancing, version of Daphne.

\And what about Rosie?\ asked Claudia.

\Rosie is totally unsuitable.\

\I wasn\ asking that,\ said Claudia. \Just whether she accepts you for yourself.\

I thought about it for a few moments. It was a difficult question.

\I think so. Because she isn\ evaluating me as a partner.\

\It\s probably good that you feel like that,\ said Claudia.

Feel! Feel, feel, feel! Feelings were disrupting my sense of well-being. In addition to a nagging desire to be working on the Father Project rather than the Wife Project, I now had a high level of anxiety related to Bianca.

Throughout my life I have been criticised for a perceived lack of emotion, as if this were some absolute fault. Interactions with psychiatrists and psychologists - even including Claudia - start from the premise that I should be more \in touch\ with my emotions. What they really mean is that I should give in to them. I am perfectly happy to detect, recognise and analyse emotions. This is a useful skill and I would like to be better at it. Occasionally an emotion can be enjoyed - the gratitude I felt for my sister who visited me even during the bad times, the primitive feeling of well-being after a glass of wine - but we need to be vigilant that emotions do not cripple us.

I diagnosed brain overload and set up a spreadsheet to analyse the situation.

I began by listing the recent disturbances to my schedule. Two were unquestionably positive. Eva, the short-skirted cleaner, was doing an excellent job and had freed up considerable time. Without her, most of the recent additional activities would not have been possible. And, anxiety notwithstanding, I had my first fully qualified applicant for the Wife Project. I had made a decision that I wanted a partner and for the first time I had a viable candidate. Logic dictated that the Wife Project, to which I had planned to allocate most of my free time, should now receive maximum attention. Here, I identified Problem Number One. My emotions were not aligned with logic. I was reluctant to pursue the opportunity.

I did not know whether to list the Father Project as positive or negative but it had consumed enormous time for zero outcome. My arguments for pursuing it had always been weak, and I had done far more than could reasonably be expected of me. If Rosie wanted to locate and obtain DNA from the remaining candidates, she could do so herself. She now had substantial practical experience with the collection procedure. I could offer to perform the actual tests. Once again, logic and emotion were not in step. I wanted to continue the Father Project. Why?


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