Lyle Burkhead (
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 03:38:01 -0500 (EST)

Maybe I should put some kind of parental warning at the beginning of
my posts. This one is rated R, meaning it contains Real, nonfictional
characters. There really was a Jennifer. Still is, I guess. However,
certain statements below may contain slight exaggerations. Now you
have been fairly warned!

Crossing over to another thread for a moment, instead of posing the
question "What is reality?" it is more useful to consider this question:
"How do you tell what's real and what isn't?" Specifically with regard
to stories: how do you tell when somebody is putting you on? I have
been known to yank people's chains, most recently in the Lyle's Laws
post on New Year's Eve. How many of you knew that I wasn't serious
about the stock market going up exponentially? If you knew, what
gave it away? How many of you knew that Leslie was *not* fictional?
What about memories -- how can you tell if memories of reincarnation
are real or not?

Now, finally getting to my point about women:

Jennifer was the most beautiful girl I ever knew -- the most perfect
embodiment of Venus. She looked kind of like Michelle Pfeiffer, but
her face was a little fuller. Imagine a combination of Pfeiffer with Liv
Ulman. Honey blonde hair, eyes that changed color from blue to green
to grey to purple, always clear and beautiful. And the rest of her,
I won't try to describe on a family-oriented list. She didn't own a bra,
and wore tight cut-off jeans... she knew exactly what she was doing,
and she enjoyed it tremendously. She loved being Venus.

She took four years of math in high school, and made straight A's.
When I met her, she was the bookkeeper in a macrobiotic bakery.
In other words, she had some natural talent for math. If she had been
force-fed mathematics from day one, and browbeaten into going to
college instead of being a health-food hippie, she might have been an
excellent mathematician, comparable to Emmy Noether. She might
have been as good at math as the Polgar sisters are at chess.

But then, would she still be Venus? Her features would be more or less
the same, I suppose (although I think studying mathematics changes us
physically, roo). But if she were a mathematician, would she still have
the same glow, the same warmth, the same sparkle, the same musical
lilt in her voice, the same loose-limbed walk, the same laugh, the same
sexual heat?

When Jennifer walked down the street, young men fought each other,
old men had heart attacks, bushes caught fire if she walked too close to
them -- this girl was hot. She gave algebra no more attention than the
alphabet. She didn't think, feel, act, or walk like a mathematician.
She had nothing in common with Newton. If she did, she wouldn't be
the Jennifer I knew. She would be Juno or Athena or Diana, not Venus.

When Nell Stephenson walked down the street, no one noticed. If Nell
looked like Jennifer -- a difficult juxtaposition to imagine -- then what?
Would she attract the same attention? Probably not.

One time somebody said something about women being equal to men,
and Jennifer said "That doesn't mean everybody has to be alike."
She was doing what she wanted to do with her life. She didn't want
to be Juno. She wanted to be Venus. She shouldn't be forced to be the
New Communist Woman, or the New Capitalist Woman, or whatever.
Let her be what she wants to be. She does what she does, supremely
well. Let her do it.