The Rosie Project Page 76

Phil walked in, his nose in a plaster cast, accompanied by the club manager. She was followed by two police. The manager pointed Gene out to Phil.

\Oh shit,\ said Rosie. Phil walked over to Gene, who stood up. There was a brief conversation and then Phil knocked him to the floor with a single punch to the jaw. The police rushed forward and restrained Phil, who did not resist. Claudia ran up to Gene, who was slowly rising. He appeared not to be seriously injured. I realised that under the traditional rules of romantic behaviour, it was correct for Phil to assault Gene, assuming he had in fact seduced Rosie\s mother when she was Phil\s girlfriend.

However, it was not certain that Gene was the culprit. On the other hand, numerous men were probably entitled to punch Gene. In this sense, Phil was dispensing romantic justice on their behalf. Gene must have understood, because he appeared to be reassuring the police that everything was okay.

I redirected my attention to Rosie. Now that my previous plan had been reinstated, it was important not to be distracted.

\Item Two on the agenda was your father\s identity.\

Rosie smiled. \Back on track. Item One: let\s get married. Okay, that\s sorted. Item Two. This is the Don I\ve grown to know and love.\

The last word stopped me. I could only look at Rosie as I took in the reality of what she had said. I guessed she was doing the same, and it was several seconds before she spoke.

\How many positions in that book can you do?\

\The se* book? All of them.\

\Bullshit.\

\It was considerably less complex than the cocktail book.\

\So let\s go home,\ she said. \To my place. Or your place if you\ve still got the Atticus Finch outfit.\ She laughed.

\It\s in my office.\

\Another time. Don\ throw it out.\

We got up, but the police, one man and one woman, blocked our path.

\Sir,\ said the woman (age approximately twenty-eight, BMI twenty-three), \I\m going to have to ask you what\s in your pocket.\

I had forgotten the envelope! I pulled it out and waved it in front of Rosie.

\Tickets! Tickets to Disneyland. All problems solved!\ I fanned out the three tickets, took Rosie\s hand and we walked towards Phil to show him.

36

We went to Disneyland - Rosie, Phil and I. It was great fun and appeared to be a success in improving all relationships. Rosie and Phil shared information and I learned a lot about Rosie\s life. It was important background for the difficult but essential task of developing a high level of empathy for one person in the world.

Rosie and I were on our way to New York, where being weird is acceptable. That is a simplification of the rationale: in reality what was important for me was to be able to make a new start with my new skills, new approach and new partner, without being held back by others\ perceptions of me - perceptions that I had not only deserved but encouraged.

Here in New York, I am working in the Department of Genetics at Columbia University, and Rosie is in the first year of the Doctor of Medicine programme. I am contributing to Simon Lefebvre\s research project remotely, as he insisted on it as a condition of providing funding. I consider it a form of moral payback for using the university\s equipment for the Father Project.

We have an apartment in Williamsburg, not far from the Eslers, whom we visit regularly. The Cellar Interrogation is now a story that Isaac and I both tell on social occasions.

We are considering reproducing (or, as I would say in a social encounter, \having children\). In order to prepare for this possibility, Rosie has ceased smoking, and we have reduced our alcohol intake. Fortunately we have numerous other activities to distract us from these addictive behaviours. Rosie and I work in a cocktail bar together three evenings a week. It is exhausting at times, but social and fun, and supplements my academic salary.

We listen to music. I have revised my approach to Bach, and am no longer trying to follow individual notes. It is more successful, but my music tastes seem to have been locked in in my teens. As a result of failing to make my own selections at that time, my preferences are those of my father. I can advance a well-reasoned argument that nothing worth listening to was recorded after 1972. Rosie and I have that argument frequently. I cook, but reserve the meals of the Standardised Meal System for dinner parties.

We are officially married. Although I had performed the romantic ritual with the ring, I did not expect Rosie, as a modern feminist, to want to actually get married. The term \wife\ in Wife Project had always meant \female life partner\. But she decided that she should have \one relationship in my life that was what it was supposed to be\. That included monogamy and permanence. An excellent outcome.

I am able to hug Rosie. This was the issue that caused me the most fear after she agreed to live with me. I generally find body contact unpleasant, but se* is an obvious exception. se* solved the body contact problem. We are now also able to hug without having se*, which is obviously convenient at times.

Once a week, in order to deal with the demands of living with another person, and to continue to improve my skills in this sphere, I spend an evening in therapy. This is a small joke: my \ herapist\ is Dave and I provide reciprocal services to him. Dave is also married and, considering that I am supposedly wired differently, our challenges are surprisingly similar. He sometimes brings male friends and colleagues from work, where he is a refrigeration engineer. We are all Yankees fans.


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