"Afraid not," Greg replied. "This is quite a lot of rearranging you're doing," he added. "Wouldn't it have been easier to just buy a new house?"
"Well we're almost done, now. Just bring that chair from the living room, and that will pretty much be it."
"The high-backed one. Wicker."
"Oh!" said Greg. "The Morticia Addams chair!"
"Hey!" she snapped at his retreating back. "Watch your mouth!" A few moments of random bumps and creaking noises later the upper half of her enormous chair entered the room, followed by Greg carrying the lower half. "Right over there," she indicated, and he nodded. "So why no girlfriend?" she asked. "Just never met the right girl I suppose?"
"I suppose," he replied, lifting the chair upright. "I'm sure it's just me, but most of the women I seem to meet ... I don't know ... just not a good fit I guess. Not that I'd know a good fit if I met one, probably."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I don't really know how to relate to women, I guess. At least that's what Brigid seems to think, and I expect she's right. For that matter, I don't really know how to relate to men either. Pretty much all of the human race, with a few exceptions, leave me dazed and confused."
"Oh, I can't believe that," said Isadora. "You're a writer. You have to know what makes people tick if you're going to make a convincing story."
"Have you read any of my writing?" asked Greg. "It's all set in the world-as-I-want-it-to-be, not the world-as-it-is. Anyway, the characters in my books do what I tell them and behave in ways I can understand. For the most part, anyway. People in real life tend to just point at me and laugh. Brigid says that the romantic bits in my stories are unconvincing and read as if they were written by a teen-aged girl."
Isadora rose and went to her chair, settling down into it like a queen into her throne. "Well, young Greg, I'll tell you the secret of romance, at the very least. Just think cats and dogs."
"Cats and dogs," Greg said.
"Yes, cats and dogs. Have you ever noticed that women tend to like cats, while men tend to like dogs?"
"I'm very fond of cats," said Greg.
"I just mean generally," said Isadora. "Take it from me. Women like cats and men like dogs."
"Okay," said Greg. "I'll take it from you, then."
"Good boy. Now, what are the key characteristics of a cat's personality?"
Greg thought for a moment. "Independence, I suppose," he said finally.
"Exactly. Cats don't need you. They may be content to let you hang around, they might even feel something like fondness for you, but most of the time they're pretty aloof. When you get an unequivocal display of affection from a cat, it's like you've won a great prize."
"Uh huh..." said Greg. "And...?"
"And what's the key characteristic of a dog's personality?"
"Loyalty," said Greg.
"Not just loyalty," said Isadora. "Unconditional loyalty. Total devotion. Dogs exist only to please their masters!"
"Okay, I guess that's..."
"Well, there you have it. Women like cats, men like dogs. Don't you see? It shows you what they want from a companion. It shows you what they want from love! Why do women always go for 'the bad boy' who mistreats them? Because they're so eager to win that rare display of affection from the aloof cat who doesn't need them. Why do men always try to find a girl who's just like their mother? Because they're looking for that unconditional, dependable devotion."
"These men and women sound like a handful of real basket-cases to me," said Greg.
"Well that's just the human condition," said Isadora. "You find me one human being who isn't a total neurotic, and I'll find you somebody who's just an expert at hiding it."
"Yes, well," said Greg. "If that really is why I can't relate to the human race, then I don't feel so bad about it, to be completely honest."
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