Meet Jane, You Tarzan
Meet Jane. Jane is slender, brown-haired, brown-eyed, and gorgeous, with a love for a animals and takeout. She is a veterinarian.
Meet John. He is tall, broad-shouldered, and handsome, with thick black hair and a deepish voice. He likes football and Italian food, and similar to Jane he works a nine-to-five, but as a carpenter.
Jane and John have dated for about a year and a half, and back in May, John asked Jane to consider moving in with him. Jane told him she would think about it. The whole summer passed and soon it became a crisp and chilly October.
Yesterday at work, John was bending over to pick up a 2×4 when a cold breeze scuttled across the yard and attacked him in his moment of vulnerability. The wind billowed John’s shirt up around his face, and flew down the seat of his pants to grip his ass and balls with hands of ice. The chilling embrace left John very shocked, and more than anything he was reminded of his loneliness. He wanted a warm girl to hold in the soul-crushing darkness of winter. He thought of Jane.
That moment with the wind resolved in John’s mind an urgency, one he had felt growing for a while. He resolved to once again bring up the idea of Jane moving in with him the next night over dinner.
Around 8:30, as per Friday-night tradition, Jane and John were eating takeout Italian food on Jane’s couch, watching an episode of The Sopranos. They had the lights off in the house and only one little candle on the coffee table giving off a nice golden light (though it had to compete with the neon-blue glow of the TV).
John cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and steadied himself for his modest proposal.
“Jane,” he said, “we’ve been together for a year and a half now, and you mean the world to me.”
Jane turned away from the TV to look at John, fright in her eyes. “Oh God,” she said, “John, I hope you’re not — please don’t propose. You’ll only make a fool out of yourself.”
John paused. Though she had misinterpreted the direction of his conversation, John couldn’t help but feel a heart-wrenching melancholy. His voice faltered.
“No, I was gonna…” He paused. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter.” He turned back to the TV and sank into the couch. He tried his best to feign interest in the show, but after a few moments he realized Jane was looking at him with amusement.
“John, what is it? What were you gonna say?”
“Nothing. It doesn’t matter. I’d feel dumb if I said it now.”
“Oh John,” she laughed, “don’t be such a poor sport. Listen, I won’t laugh at you, no matter how dumb your idea is.”
“Gee, thanks for that. No. Let’s just watch the show, please.”
“John, I promise I won’t laugh! You should be able to tell me anything. It’s important that you tell me what’s on your mind.”
Great, John thought, she’s got me. Now if I don’t tell her, it will become an issue of me not trusting her, and a bitterness for each other will grow and grow until we break up. Fuck.
“Well, what I was gonna say, was, well, have you thought about when I asked you to move in with me? Please? Will you?”
Jane laughed, then sighed, muttering, “John, John, John,” under her breath.
John sank deeper into the couch. His mind fluttered down to his heart, seeking some hope, but found in its chamber a cold wasteland instead.
Well, he thought, nothing she says can hurt me now.
“The answer is no. Fuck no.”
Looks like I thought wrong.
“The thing is, we’ve only been together 18 months–”
“Exactly,” John interrupted, “18 months! That’s enough time for a newborn to grow and learn to follow two-step commands and understand whole friggin sentences!”
“Okay, Doctor John,” Jane mumbled.
John picked up the remote and turned off the TV. Jane still looked at the black box, her lower lip in a pout.
“John, I’m not moving in with you.”
“Because your house smells like wood dust, and we’ve only been together 18 months.”
“It doesn’t smell like wood dust… what’s wrong with wood dust?”
“Uh, it smells like a shop, John. I refuse to live in a wood shop, okay, John? With your dusty little puppets lining the walls of your house… nope. Hell no.”
John turned away from Jane to face the wall, his mouth wrenched upside-down in bitterness. “That’s a low jab, even for you, Jane. You know my dad dedicated his life to ventriloquism.”
Jane narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean, ‘even for you’? Watch where you’re walking, buddy. You might just bump into a wall!”
“I just mean that sometimes you say hurtful things without meaning it.”
“Well, I mean it this time. Drop this nonsense about moving in together, and let’s just watch the show like grown adults. C’mon, stop pouting. You’re being childish.”
“You’re being childish,” John muttered.
He turned to face the TV, not daring to look at Jane, his arms crossed and his lips pressed tight together. He stared at the TV and so did Jane, a look of silent disbelief written on her face.
Then she turned with disgust to the other man on the couch. “Who are you?” she asked.
John answered her question without turning his head. “He’s the cameraman.”
“Does he have to be here?”
“Because it’s my house.”
“No it isn’t. We’re in my house, John.”
Silence settled in the room. It was not a comfortable silence. After some time Jane reached to turn the TV on.
John shouted. “No!”
Jane rolled her eyes and fell back into the couch. “Why not, John? What’s the matter now?”
“I don’t want to!”
“Well, I do!”
The cameraman zoomed in for a closeup on Jane’s face, and the combination of her eyes rolling up into her head and the huffing sound of her prolonged sigh made it seem as though she was possessed. “Jesus, John, Jane and Joseph,” she murmured, “What could you possibly want?”
“Jane, if we can’t resolve this, I don’t want part in this relationship anymore.”
“You don’t have to be so melodramatic. Okay, let’s talk… ugh!… what do you want to talk about?”
“Why won’t you move in with me?”
Jane hissed an obscenity between her teeth, feeling a scream rising in her. Then she turned to John with a pleasant smile.
“John, you decrepit turd, you don’t wear deodorant, you have three nipples, and I want my space!”
John started to say, “These are all petty issues–” but Jane cut him off to continue her rant. She grinned wide and started talking to the camera instead of John.
“You have a mouth like a toad, you walk like a toad, and you pee like a toad…”
“What does that even me–”
“….You wake up at four in the goddamn morning and bang all the pots and pans in the house while you’re at it! And your friggin puppets freak the fuck out of me! Those are some ugly ass puppets you have, John!”
“Don’t ‘please’ me! I’m not done! You, you…” She thought furiously, but her anger had suddenly faded and she couldn’t think of anything. “Okay,” she said, slouching into the couch, “I’m done.”
“Oh wait!” Jane said, snapping to sit upright, “Why don’t you move in with me? Why didn’t you ever suggest that idea, huh?”
“I thought it would be rude… But…” John perked up. “…would I be able to move in with you?”
“No,” Jane said, bashing his hope to bits.
There was another silence, and John used the moment to try to repair his morale and self-esteem enough to mount another offense. While Jane sat and stared at the black TV screen with dead eyes, John swallowed sadness and hurt that had risen up. He gulped down the moths of rejection incessantly, and the sound annoyed Jane. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore.
“What are you, a fish out of water? Geez. Go get something to drink if you need it.”
John stopped his depression-repairing process at 57 percent of his optimum mental health. “No, I’m fine,” he said.
“You don’t sound fine,” Jane muttered, unfathomably peeved. She really wished John would leave.
There was another silence, and they continued to stare at the TV screen. John was mentally piecing together a plan to get Jane to move in.
He was struck with a brilliant thought.
“Jane,” he said, “let’s play a game.”
“Oh great. I can’t wait to play this game, John. Does it involve you endlessly harassing me about moving in?”
“No, Jane, it does not. It’s called the ‘get to know you’ game.”
“Booooooring,” Jane said, faking a yawn.
“Jane, I think there’s a lot about me that you don’t know, and maybe you might just change your mind.”
Jane looked at him, wild-eyed. “What’d you do, John? Kill a man? There’s a lot you don’t know about me, either.” She smiled maliciously.
“What don’t I know about you?” asked John, nervousness in his voice.
“You started this game, John. You go first. What don’t I know about you?”
There was a silence. Already the dialogue was not going as he planned. John wondered about her secret.
“Okay, Jane,” he said, with modesty in his voice, “I served in ‘Nam.”
“I knew that already.”
John was stunned. “How?”
“Because you have your participation ribbons on display in your house. Add that to the list of reasons why I am never going to move in with you.”
“Never?” John said, crushed. “Because of my participation — because I fought in Vietnam?”
“No,” Jane replied, waving her hand. “Because you laminated them and hung ‘em above your toilet.”
John just got roasted, the cameraman thought. He zoomed in on John’s defeated face.
“What’s wrong with that?” John cried.
“It’s weird, John. It’s really weird.”
“Jane!” John shouted, his voice quivering, “I’m a good person! I should move in with you because I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m good looking, and I’m not neurotic, I promise!”
Jane looked at John with narrowed eyes. “Hmmm… yes you are, John. You are. You’re very neurotic.”
“But what about the baby, Jane?”
What a plot twist! The cameraman was exalted by the turn of events. He zoomed his lenses to reveal a baby grabbing at lint between the couch cushions.
“Ga-ga!” giggled the baby.
“Cut!” The director yelled, annoyed. The scene ended. The camera faded out, and John and Jane pulled out their phones to scroll through Instagram before the next scene.
The director considered doing another take but he couldn’t tell whether the scene was good or bad. This whole project should probably be scrapped, he thought, but it was an irrelevant thought, for there was no going back once filming started.