`Why don't men and women really like one another nowadays?' Connie asked Tommy Dukes, who was more or less her oracle.
`Oh, but they do! I don't think since the human species was invented, there has ever been a time when men and women have liked one another as much as they do today. Genuine liking! Take myself. I really like women better than men; they are braver, one can be more frank with them.'
Connie pondered this.
`Ah, yes, but you never have anything to do with them!' she said.
`I? What am I doing but talking perfectly sincerely to a woman at this moment?'
`And what more could I do if you were a man, than talk perfectly sincerely to you?'
`Nothing perhaps. But a woman...'
`A woman wants you to like her and talk to her, and at the same time love her and desire her; and it seems to me the two things are mutually exclusive.'
`But they shouldn't be!'
`No doubt water ought not to be so wet as it is; it overdoes it in wetness. But there it is! I like women and talk to them, and therefore I don't love them and desire them. The two things don't happen at the same time in me.'
`I think they ought to.'
`All right. The fact that things ought to be something else than what they are, is not my department.
Connie considered this. `It isn't true,' she said. `Men can love women and talk to them. I don't see how they can love them without talking, and being friendly and intimate. How can they?'
`Well,' he said, `I don't know. What's the use of my generalizing? I only know my own case. I like women, but I don't desire them. I like talking to them; but talking to them, though it makes me intimate in one direction, sets me poles apart from them as far as kissing is concerned. So there you are! But don't take me as a general example, probably I'm just a special case: one of the men who like women, but don't love women, and even hate them if they force me into a pretence of love, or an entangled appearance.
`But doesn't it make you sad?'
`Why should it? Not a bit! I look at Charlie May, and the rest of the men who have affairs...No, I don't envy them a bit! If fate sent me a woman I wanted, well and good. Since I don't know any woman I want, and never see one...why, I presume I'm cold, and really like some women very much.'
`Do you like me?'
`Very much! And you see there's no question of kissing between us, is there?'
`None at all!' said Connie. `But oughtn't there to be?'
`Why, in God's name? I like Clifford, but what would you say if I went and kissed him?'
`But isn't there a difference?'
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