At the same time, she’s already speculated about the possibility that he could kill her and has become anxiously aware that she’s entirely in his territory, that he could have rooms full of “corpses or kidnap victims or chains.”Louis C.
Our initial impression of a person is pretty much entirely a mirage of guesswork and projection.
When I started writing the story, I had the idea of a person who had adopted all these familiar signifiers as a kind of camouflage, but was something else—or nothing at all—underneath.
story in this week’s issue, “Cat Person,” is both an excruciating bad-date story and, I think, a kind of commentary on how people get to know each other, or don’t, through electronic communication. The story was inspired by a small but nasty encounter I had with a person I met online.
I was shocked by the way this person treated me, and then immediately surprised by my own shock.
The subject of nonconsensual sex—between older men and younger women, in particular—has been very much in the news lately.
Do you think of this encounter, which is, at times, cringe-inducing for the reader, as a consensual one? Well, he buys her alcohol, even though he knows she’s underage, and he tells her that he thinks she’s drunk right before he takes her home. But I’m more interested in the way that Margot herself weighs the costs of her own decision to consent.
That option, of blunt refusal, doesn’t even consciously occur to her—she assumes that if she wants to say no she has to do so in a conciliatory, gentle, tactful way, in a way that would take “an amount of effort that was impossible to summon.” And I think that assumption is bigger than Margot and Robert’s specific interaction; it speaks to the way that many women, especially young women, move through the world: not making people angry, taking responsibility for other people’s emotions, working extremely hard to keep everyone around them happy.
It’s reflexive and self-protective, and it’s also exhausting, and if you do it long enough you stop consciously noticing all the individual moments when you’re making that choice.
In the bar, Margot thinks of Robert as “a large, skittish animal, like a horse or a bear,” that she is taming, coaxing to eat from her hand.
But what would happen if she stopped trying to coax and pet and charm him—if she said, bluntly, that she doesn’t want him, that she’s not attracted to him, that she’s changed her mind?
There are fewer of her texts in the story for that reason.