The comforting thing about movies was that she could watch bodies that were not feeling they were bodies. Moving effortlessly through graveyards, even uphill, wearing clothing whose tags did not itch, there was never a stray hair caught in the lip gloss, the frictionlessness of bodies in heaven. Sliding over each other like transparencies, riding love as picturesquely as prairie horses, the sex scenes like blouses brushing against slacks in a closet, not feeling. And not feeling all the things she would miss in the clear blue place. Grass sawed at the edge of the sea, it did not have to feel that it was grass. A fur coat in a movie made in 1946 approached a state of being cruelty-free, so far was it from its original foxes. The exception was movies made by geniuses. Everything in them wore a halo that was the specific pain of being itself.
The more closely we could associate a diet with cavemen, the more we loved it. Cavemen were not famous for living a long time, but they were famous for being exactly what the fuck they were supposed to be, something we could no longer say about ourselves.
“Have you heard from [Blank] lately?” her mother asked on the phone, and invoked the specter of a classmate who had escaped, who was nowhere to be found in any of the places where you typed in names. Her job was so legitimate that it seemed like a reproach: Aerospace Engineer. Had she, through her goodness and unswerving concentration, broken off into one of the better timelines? Every few years she typed in the name and called up only the same unresolving pictures of the girl she had known, posing next to a machine that had carried her somewhere other than into the future, her familiar flesh still partially made from those orders of cheese fries they used to share in high school.
Modern womanhood was more about rubbing snail mucus on your face than she had thought it would be. But it had always been something, hadn’t it? Taking drops of arsenic. Winding bandages around the feet. Polishing your teeth with lead. It was so easy to believe you freely chose the paints, polishes, and waist-trainers of your own time, while looking back with tremendous pity to women of the past and their whalebones …
[T]he biggest fight she and her husband had ever had had been about the Milgram experiment. He had never heard of it, and even after she looked it up for him online, expressed doubt that it shed any light on human behavior. Finally, she lost her head. “If you refuse to accept … that we are LITTLE RODENTS … who would TORTURE EACH OTHER under the RIGHT CONDITIONS … then GET OUT OF THIS APARTMENT! Bewildered, he had left, and then returned twenty minutes later with a nice white cheddar, which she guessed was some kind of a sick, twisted joke.