Pop Quiz — a short story
She sat down next to me at the bar. “Buy me a drink?”
Tall, raven hair, dark brows, natural blush, little or no makeup.
Nice body. Late thirties, early forties. Pretty. Maybe an eight.
Except the eyes, which were definitely beautiful. But there was something about them. They seemed … angry.
“Why not?” She swept a hand from her chest to her legs, Vanna White style, displaying the goods. “What’s not to like?”
I half-smiled. “Nice. But what else ya got?”
“What, you want me to strip for you?” She looked at me coolly, but that anger smoldered in the back of her eyes.
“Cute women are a dime a dozen. Most of them get spoiled by all the attention, so they don’t develop their personalities. They expect men to hand them everything. Like, you know … free drinks.”
She tilted her head, as if to examine me. “Interesting.” Abruptly she asked, “What do you think of the Hobby Lobby ruling?”
I sipped my drink. “Is this a pop quiz?”
“I’m just trying to find out what else you’ve got.”
“Touché. But for me it’s a fifty-fifty bet. If I guess wrong, you’ll think I’m on the evil-enemy side.”
She smiled. “That’s a chance you’ll have to take.”
“Not if I don’t want to.”
A drink appeared at her hand. I didn’t remember her ordering. Maybe the bartender knew her habits. She sipped at it. On her wrist was a bracelet with a name plate. I could make out part of it: “J-u-l-”. She said, “I want to hear what you think about women’s reproductive rights. See if you have a head on your shoulders.”
I nodded. “Okay, got it. So the correct answer is I’m against the Supreme Court’s decision and I believe in taxing the religious right to pay for females’ sex lives.”
She smirked. “So you’re not really in favor of women’s rights.” She leaned toward me. “You just flunked my test.”
From her breath I could tell she’d been drinking before she sat down.
I replied, “And you just flunked mine.”
She looked startled. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you’re confusing women’s reproductive freedom — which I support — with the right to take money from other people to pay for it. Especially from people who vigorously object to contraception and abortion. If you’re not smart enough to make that distinction, I’d be tired of you inside of a week.”
Her jaw dropped. Then she regrouped. “What’s wrong with contraception?”
“I have no objection to it. But others do. And if the government can force them to violate their deeply held principles just because some inner-city tramp wants to get laid and can’t be bothered to spend a buck for a box of condoms, then pretty soon they can force me to do stuff I despise.”
“It’s not condoms. It’s, like, birth-control pills.”
“But you men have spent centuries suppressing women, preventing them from making the money they’re really worth, dumping them when they get pregnant. How can they afford healthcare?” Her eyes blazed. Now I knew where all that anger came from.
I said, “I haven’t suppressed anybody. And if you don’t like the way some guy treats you, choose another. There’s lots of fish in the sea.”
“No there aren’t! They’re hard to find.”
“You’re making me cry. Look, if life were easy, everybody’d be good at it. The way you want it, we’d spend our entire careers demanding reparations from people whose ancestors might have offended our ancestors. ‘Hello, my name’s Julia, and you owe me fourteen dollars and seventy-two cents.’”
Her eyes got big. “How’d you know my name’s Julia?”
“Lucky guess. I’m Josh.”
“Hey, another J-name. We have so much in common.”
“Sure, like, we both live in America and you want my money.”
“You think all I care about is money?”
I shrugged. “I think you’re spoiled. And intellectually lazy.”
“I’m not lazy! I’m an attorney.”
That further explained the angry eyes. I said, “I rest my case.”
“Cute.” Lightly she punched my shoulder. “You’re funny.”
I shrugged again.
She said, “Still won’t buy me that drink?”
“Nope. But you can buy me one.” I grinned. “See? I really am a feminist.”