Authors: Laura Zigman
“WICKEDLY FUNNY … WITTY AND ENTERTAINING … Zigman’s triumph here is to invest the old story of a woman scorned with fresh, contemporary relevance, while also conveying the universal poignancy of heartbreak. Her portrayal of single Manhattanites, male and female, is right on the mark.”
“[A] WITTY FIRST NOVEL, a female-bonding-type read that flies by most entertainingly.”
“BRIGHT AND FUNNY.”
San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
“As Laura Zigman quite endearingly reminds us, getting ditched is among the certifiably universal experiences. It isn’t fun, but once the smoke clears, it can be exceedingly funny.”
The Washington Post
“Zinging along with deadeye depictions of men on the make as accurate as smart bombs, this is a riot to read—and also happens to make a great deal of sense.”
“[A] CHARMING DEBUT NOVEL about a woman’s quest to truly understand the mind of the male beast.”
“A wonderfully entertaining, dead-on look at the downward trajectory from bliss to bafflement that characterizes modern romance. Zigman presents characters that are shaded and insightful and richly engaging.”
A Dial Press Trade Paperback Book
Dial Press hardcover edition / 1998
Delta Trade Paperback edition / March 2001
Dial Press Trade Paperback edition / July 2005
A Division of Random House, Inc.
New York, New York
Copyright © 1998 by Laura Zigman
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. For information, address The Dial Press, New York, New York.
The Dial Press and Dial Press Trade Paperbacks are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc., and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.
Reprinted by arrangement with The Dial Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Men Who Can’t Love: When a Man’s Fear Makes Him Run from Commitment (And What a Smart Woman Can Do About It)
by Steven Carter and Julia Sokol Coopersmith. Copyright 1987 by Steven Carter and Julia Sokol Coopersmith. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, M. Evans & Co., Inc.
Excerpt from Stephen Jay Gould’s introduction to
In the Shadow of Man
by Jane Goodall. Copyright 1971, 1988. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Co. All rights reserved.
by Desmond Morris. Copyright 1990 by Desmond Morris. Reprinted by permission of Crown Publishers, Inc.
The Great Sex Divide
by Glenn Wilson. Copyright 1989 by Glenn Wilson. Reprinted by permission of Peter Owen Ltd, London.
Excerpt from the
New York Post
article by Gersh Kuntzman reprinted by permission of the
New York Post
. Copyright 1997 by NYP Holdings, Inc.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental
Darwinian Man, though well-behaved,
At best is only a monkey shaved.
—W. S. Gilbert
, Act II
By nature, man loves change. He is attracted by beauty, attracted by novelty. To this, the
gives a philosophical reply: “From the moment one has obtained something desired, it is no longer desirable. The desire to obtain something disappears at the moment it is obtained.”
The Kama Sutra
If someone had asked me a year ago why I thought it was that men leave women and never come back, I would have said this:
is short for
, which is short for
, which, of course, is short for the sad, sorry truth that men leave women and never come back because all they really want is New Cow.
The New-Cow theory was not my theory, though I renamed it and refined it for my own purposes. The seed of the New-Cow theory was culled from an article on male behavior that caught my eye, partly because it appeared in a highly reputable newspaper and not in a self-help book with a twenty-three-word title, and partly too, I think, because of the timing, which was about nine months after Ray had left me for no apparent reason and right after I found out that his no apparent reason had had a name all along:
The New-Cow theory was based on several seminal studies cited in the article on the mating preferences of the male cow.
First, a bull was presented with a cow.
When the bull was presented with the same cow, to mate again, the bull wasn’t interested. He wanted
Cow and this was
At which point the same cow was brought in again, only this time the researchers disguised her slightly—with a hat or a
little dress. And again the bull refused to mate with her because he could tell that she wasn’t New Cow. She was just Old Cow
as New Cow.
Finally, realizing the bull couldn’t be tricked visually, an ingenious ploy was implemented:
The Old Cow was smeared with New-Cow scent
. Smelling New Cow, the bull got up and crossed the barn to get a better look.
But he was no fool. This wasn’t New Cow.
This was Old Cow incognito.
Old Cow in sheep’s clothing.
Mutton dressed as lamb.
If someone had asked me a year after Ray and I first met what I thought about why men leave women and never come back, I would have told them a lot of things to substantiate the New-Cow theory.
Like how some male insects hold out a big, wet, gooey ball of food to lure a prospective female, then take the uneaten portion with them after copulation to use to attract another prospective female.
Or how the lag time between rats’ erections can be significantly decreased when a new female is thrown into the cage.
And how the males of most species will attempt to copulate with almost anything that even remotely resembles a female: a male turkey with a female turkey head; a male snake with a dead female snake until redirected to a live one; a male bonobo with a cardboard box or a pretty zookeeper’s big rubber boots.
Old Cows think they know everything about everything
But no one asked me then.
If someone asked me now, I would have a different answer.
I would roll my eyes, look toward the ceiling, raise both
hands and shake them toward the heavens the way old Italian women do, and say this:
It is not for us to understand
That’s what people who have given up say, and, I suppose, I was one of those people. And maybe I had given up because I came to realize that men didn’t leave all women and never come back.
They just left me.
My name is Jane Goodall.
Jane Goodall, but sometimes I think it was my name that led me from men to cows, from cows to monkeys, and then to all my research and theories. Everything has meaning, no matter how seemingly random or insignificant; everything leads us to something else: a blink of an eye, a kiss, a facial expression, a particular combination of words, like
I don’t love you anymore
I’m in love with someone else now
, are all clues to be deciphered, analyzed, interpreted. At least that’s what I, Jane Goodall, monkey scientist, once believed.
But I am not a monkey scientist anymore.
You’d think, with all the twelve-step recovery programs out there—with all the touchy-feely, all-embracing, anti-enabling groups of people meeting five times a day, hugging one another and telling one another their first names and their excessive-eating-smoking-drinking-drugging-fucking stories—that there would have been one for me. One measly, pathetic group of two or three equally obsessive-compulsive monkey scientists who would have listened to my sapien-simian rantings and understood.