Poor Maureeen Dowd. Day and night, night and day, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist wrestles with the essential question of her existence:
Is she Really Smart, or Really Dumb?
"Are Men Necessary?" (338 pp., $25.95) presents arguments for both sides. At least I think that's what it's doing. It's hard to tell.
Herewith a little evidence. You make the call.
1. Maureen is Really Smart!
How can you tell? Because she's read Books. Lots of 'em. Big books, too. Shakespeare! Tolstoy! Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde! Every other page of AMN drops a title or an author you should have read in school, or at least should have learned to lie about having read. She's practically a one-woman SAT prep course!
2. Maureen Is Really Dumb.
"Little did I realize that the sexual revolution would have the unexpected consequence of intensifying the confusion between the sexes... It never occurred to me that the more women aped men, in everything from dress to orgasms, the more we would realize how inalienably different the sexes are."
As Shakespeare might have commented, "Hey honey, where do you think I got half my material from?"
And that's not her only dilemma, either. One or two others:
1. Maureen Is On the Cutting Edge!
The lady writes for the most important newspaper in the world, the New York Times. You don't get to the Times Op-Ed pages by being out to lunch, unless you're Frank Rich. You gotta keep up to hold that job. It's a daily after all, right?
2. Maureen Is Soooo Twentieth Century.
"The free-love idea that sex could be casual and safe and unfraught was, in retrospect, chuckleheaded."
Talk about old news. Sociologists have been publishing papers on that one for at least a decade now, and women like Phyllis Schlafly have been saying it for 25-plus years. ( P.S.- Jane Austen knew it, too. Remember Sense and Sensibility?)
Or this one:
1. That Girl Is A Riot!
It says so right on the jacket copy. "Saucy and insightful... chapters that surprise and amuse...Now comes a woman to cut through the tangle and tickle Adams' rib!"
"At thirty-six, Brian [Williams] was already the hair apparent to Tom Brokaw."
Get it? "Hair" apparent? The expression is really "heir apparent," but see how "heir" rhyms with "hair? See, Brian Williams has a full head of hair, and... you get it? It's a PUN!! Is that funny or what? She's got a million of 'em!
Now I ask you. With this kind of thing going through a girl's head night and day, is it any wonder that Maureen Dowd is positively bumfuzzled?
That's right, bumfuzzled. That's a new word for me. I found it in "Are Men Necessary?" I'm not sure what it means. It sounds vaguely British, and vaguely fungal, like some condition related to diaper rash. But that's what folks are these days, Maureen asserts: bumfuzzled.
It seems to mean confused, primarily over questions like "Are men intimidated by my braininess?" (Give yourself a pass on that one, Mo.) "Do men just not want powerful women- is that why I'm single?"
Oh, Mo. Don't make me say it. Even Hillary Clinton managed to get someone. Not to mention Margaret Thatcher, Joan Didion, Cokie Roberts... hey, is Alessandra Stanley married?
There there, Ms. Dowd. Don't go fuzzling your pretty little bum over all this. You'll find someone, someone smarter and more interesting and funnier. Really. You will. You'd almost have to, don't you think?
In the meantime maybe you should see someone about that bumfuzzle. It sounds like it could be serious.