Her younger brother Melvin -- a spineless little twerp Howard had abducted years before he had ever heard of Tally -- had loaned her a trending (a word Howard loathed even more than "appropriate") book aimed at lonely males -- betas at the most, some even charleys or deltas -- in their twenties or thirties, moping and languishing in the very rooms they "grew up" in, surrounded by electronic gizmos that intermittently sent them on high-stakes adventures they could just as easily find in Libya, Gaza, Syria, or in post-Irma Puerto Rico or in a search for drinkable water in Flint, and providing them opportunities to vent with impotent rage the pain of persecuted, maligned and ignored maledom, especially of the white variety.
The aforementioned book provided these invisible soldiers a motherly balm by reassuring them they were still the dominant sex, with or without a prom date, while they stewed in their own juices, always fully expecting, for no apparent reason, that a Fair Lady would stop by their quaint abode, preferably when Mother was at work or at yoga, and give herself fully to them in exactly the way they had imagined ever since they entered their hormone-hounded tortured teens.
The fruit of the Lady's visit would not lead to the mine-studded brier-patch of responsible parenting, but only to a sweet, feminine and very tangible confirmation of the male's long held insistence that he is an alpha buck finally separated from a dreaded locked-antler ordeal with a beta elk, and is now free to enjoy the Grail he so deserves.
But we digress. So let us return to Tally's prick question:
"Howard, how can you kick against the pricks? By that, I mean you're sort of pissing in the wind here. Sure, I'm a woman and am proud of it, but even millions of years before civilization, well before the dinosaurs strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage, the current hierarchy was at work even at the molecular level.
"Did you even know there are male and female quarks, and the former cast a shadow on the latter, and are more likely to vibrate than the female quark?"
"Female quark? Do you mean 'antiquark'?"
"I don't know, the book doesn't say. But I do know the idea of a hierarchy in which males maintained order and females threatened to disrupt it was fully in place by the time lobsters found their home in the depths of the sea.
|Do you know these ladies? Can you hear them?|
"Just walk by the lobster tank at some grocery store other than Publix (because of political reasons), and you can see the intimidating posture of the alpha male lobster, the betas cringing in the corner, the saucy female lobsters lobbying the alpha to have a little fun before they were all in hot water."
In his heart, Howard wept. Where, oh where was the Tally he abducted during a smoke break from her AP Welding class? Ever since that day, he had admired her strength and wisdom, her courage -- what was it they said about Beowulf? "Sapientia et Fortitudo"? That described Tally. What could lead her to see herself as less than she is?
Less awkwardly, how could she deny her full humanness, to slight that priceless gift by some primitive notion of sex roles, strong or weak, rational or emotional, brawny or fair, and on and on? Either/or fallacies! That's all they were! Are!
Tally sensed Howard's mood dipping quietly into life's bilge water.
"Howard, weren't you going to talk to me about that poem you memorized when you were incarcerated?"
"Oh, yes. But I'm a little stunned right now. I will tell you tomorrow how the poem relates to this conversation, if our Creator doesn't get too busy. Meanwhile, I'll warm us up some Jagermeister."
*St. Paul, Acts 26-14