Woody Allen


Giles Harvey

  No one hates Woody Allen more than I do. Trust me on this. I have a whole spiel, a whole litany, what’s become almost a kind of party piece. Do not get me started on Woody Allen—not if you have plans the next day.
  “It isn’t a competition!” Martha, my wife, told me a while ago, after I had commandeered another dinner party; and yet now that hatred of Woody has become merely fashionable, just another righteous liberal twitch, I do feel the need to distinguish myself from the digital hivemind, to tell the world that I was here first. Our close friends have long known better than to mention his name in my presence, but still it happens, or used to until very recently, that someone at work or a family gathering would innocently raise the subject, and before you knew it…
  The eight most depressing words in the English language? “Have you seen the new Woody Allen film?” I’d do my best to contain myself as the inevitable exchange ensued. For someone else (not me) always had seen it, they thought it wasn’t bad, there were a few funny lines in there, it was probably his best film since Match Point or Sweet and Lowdown or whichever ridiculously low benchmark it was. Don’t we deserve better? (I wanted to say). As individuals, as a society, do we not deserve better than the same old salad of intellectual window dressing and reactionary nostalgia? People! (I wanted to say). You could visit a museum! You could go swimming! No one is forcing you to keep on seeing these weightless, derivative, quarter-baked artifacts of creative senescence. Honestly, there are life-insurance commercials that have made me feel more than most Woody Allen films. There are billboards that contain more original thought. And now that he’s finally been placed beyond the pale we are forced to sit through the endless “reappraisals,” the interminable chewing over of the same spurious question: Can you separate the man from the art? What art! (I want to scream). There is nothing to separate! There is no issue here, no tension, nothing demanding the use of one’s mind. Now please, can we all just drop the subject.
  Anyway, sorry to go on. Like other men in this moment doing their best to take up less space, I remain a work in progress, a promissory note. But a word needed to be said about the Dean of the Academy of the Overrated if the following is going to make any sense at all.

For weeks, ever since they’d invited us over for dinner, Martha had been talking about how excited she was for me to finally meet Holly, her new boss, and Holly’s husband, Nate. Really Martha hadn’t stopped talking about Holly for the six months that she’d been working at the Milton J. Goldbaum Institute for Communication and Inclusion at Hamilton, a community college in the Bronx. To hear Martha tell it, Holly, the Goldbaum Institute’s director, was less a boss than a guru, a life coach, a wise friend who modeled strong female leadership in her endless battles with the clueless, mediocre men of pallor at the top of Hamilton’s administrative food chain. I had trouble keeping track of the various characters (Gary, the handsy assistant provost; Tim, the legendarily disorganized interim vice president for student affairs) with whom Holly was continually locking horns, but with my repertoire of nods, murmurs, and scandalized tuts I’d so far managed to get through each evening’s installment of “The Institute” (as I privately thought of it) without giving myself away.
  I may have acquitted myself less well when it came to the subject of Nate. Nate! There was no end to the stories that Martha brought home about this saint of a man, this fully reprogrammed female ally. The emotional labor he performed so unceasingly. How he was always coming up with ideas for ways in which Holly could streamline and circumvent the bureaucratic chaos of Hamilton. How he’d put his own career on hold to serve as the primary caretaker for their child.
  “He sounds terrible,” I said a few nights before our big dinner, as Martha and I were brushing our teeth.
  “Why?” she said, in that innocent way of hers.
  “Just a bit…woker than thou?”
  She spat. “Please be nice to them, Mark,” she said and padded out.
  Alone, I swapped a cringing little glance with my reflection.
  “When am I not nice?” I called after her.  
  The answer, if we’re being honest, is not never. I enjoy a good argument—by which I mean a disinterested argument about intellectual matters, matters of taste and judgment—and resent the new social dispensation that seems to regard any substantive difference of opinion as a minefield to be skirted at all costs. Still, I recognize, Martha has helped me to recognize, that it is sometimes necessary to bite your tongue in order not to spoil a good time. “We don’t always have to talk about war and genocide” was how she once put it, exaggerating for effect.
  So I promised to be nice. Of course I did. Because I knew how much Holly’s approval meant to her. Giving up on the academic job market after more than a decade of grad school had not been easy for either of us (we met our first year at Columbia), so for Martha to land a job she found not unrewarding (in large part due to Holly) was a not un-big deal. And because—well, because in a marriage, I’ve found, you need to be always building credit. For a couple closing in on forty who hadn’t been able to string more than a few hours of sleep together in the two and half years since the birth of our first child, we weren’t doing so badly. We didn’t hate each other, which was more than could be said for many of our friends with young children, at least those with whom we hadn’t completely lost touch. A decade or so after those summers of back-to-back wedding weekends in our late twenties and early thirties, the first wave of divorces was beginning to roll in. Martha and I, I felt pretty sure, were not at risk of finding ourselves in that washed-up company any time soon (we’d even begun to talk about having another child), but still, who knows what’s going to happen?
  We had our sulks and our silences, moments in which you catch a glimpse of your frustration threshold, of what it would be like to have had enough. And we had our moments—or I did anyway—of not quite knowing how we’d ended up where we had. I’d catch myself staring at the photo on the fridge that some tourist had taken of us on our first trip together, in Mexico City, way back in 2009—our faces poking through the carnival cutouts of Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera (though, in a stroke of unparalleled comedic genius, it is my face that appears above Kahlo’s body and Martha’s above Rivera’s). 2009! Obama had just been elected, America seemed like not such a bad country to belong to after all, Martha and I were newly in love. Staring at the photo, I had trouble connecting these optimistic young people with the disappointed, sleep-deprived automatons they’d become. David Byrne Syndrome, one of my friends, another new father, called it, when I’d tried to explain the feeling to him over beers. “You know,” he said when I looked at him uncertainly. “‘This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife.’”

Nate came to the door in a DANGER MEN COOKING apron.
  “You’ve arrived!” he said, redundantly, smothering my outstretched hand as he leaned in for the hug.
  I’d been expecting a soft, doughy person, someone as visibly blunted and depleted by the ordeal of early parenthood as myself, but the man who took our coats and asked to be reminded if we had any dietary restrictions (a question we’d already answered, via email, the previous week) was a beanpole, his clasp firm, his short sandy hair vigorously intact. As he released me and turned excitedly to Martha, I noticed the turquoise clear-framed glasses he had on. They were a sort of granting of permission: yes, they seemed to say, you are allowed to dislike this man.
  “Everyone!” he said as we emerged from the hallway into a vast living area (built-in bookshelves, a fiddle-leaf fig plant in the bay window) that occupied the entire ground floor of the Queen Anne house we’d paused to admire outside moments earlier. Was this what a director’s salary at the Milton J. Goldbaum Institute bought you these days? Or was there family money in play?
  “Everyone!” Nate said again.
  Hunched over a box frame coffee table, sipping red wine and picking at a marble cheese board, a group of loudly talking men and women failed to register our appearance. They were sitting on a low-slung mustard yellow sofa on the other side of the room, and Nate had to clap to get them to look up.  
  The group surrendered its attention to us reluctantly, one by one. Spotting Martha, a large-framed woman with a splash of beige freckles across her nose and cheeks and masses of carroty corkscrew hair hauled herself upright and marched across the room to embrace her.
  Nate ushered us forward. “This is Martha, who works with Holly, and Mark, her husband.”
  We waved shyly, and the people on the sofa waved shyly back.
  “Martha and Mark, these are our dear friends, Annie and Paul,” Nate said, indicating a man and a woman, both still youthful-looking, who leaned together cutely to demonstrate their relationship status. “And these two,” he said, directing our attention to an attractive Korean-American couple sitting next to them. “Well, we just can’t seem to get rid of these two.”
  They all laughed.
  “We’re Florence and Paul,” Florence said, putting her arm around her partner’s shoulder. “He’s also Paul.”
  “Also?” her Paul said. “What are you talking about ‘also’? I’m the original Paul.”
  “That would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic,” said the other Paul, a severely handsome, barrel-chested man with dark hair and an acute widow’s peak, who was finishing chewing something.
  “Dude, can’t hear you when your mouth’s full.”  
  Martha and I maneuvered ourselves into the place that had opened up next to Florence, which Holly insisted we take while she went to fetch us glasses.
  “We were just talking about fat people,” Florence said.
  “Florence!” Annie said.
  “We were!” Florence said.
  She had long, convex, precisely cut bangs, and her dark glossy hair stopped, with equal precision, just above her shoulders. Her skin was pale to the point of translucence.
  “Florence thinks that fat people shouldn’t be allowed on planes,” white Paul explained.
  “Oh my god. That is not what I said.”
  “That was the subtext.”
  “I was just telling a story—”
  “Flo had to sit next to a fat person on a plane recently,” her Paul said.
  “This huge guy,” Florence said,  reclaiming control of the anecdote from her partner. “Absolutely massive. I’m sorry, but it was disgusting. We were touching the whole way. For, like, six hours I was touching this steam machine.”
  “She wrote a note to the flight attendant,” Annie said.
  “Very discreetly,” Florence said. “On the back of a napkin. I passed it to the attendant when she came around with the peanuts.”
  “What did you say?” Martha asked.
  “Just, I’m sitting next to this huge guy, he’s, uh, encroaching on my personal space, and is there a free seat somewhere that I could take?”
  “She was very subtle—I realized this must happen not infrequently. A few minutes later she came back with a seltzer, as though it was something I’d asked for. There was a napkin with it. She’d written a note on the back.”
  “Oh my god,” Martha said. “What did it say?”
  “She’d checked, but no dice.”
  I am not a fat man, but gone are the days when I could eat whatever I felt like. No one tells you how effortlessly you gain weight once you have a child, how quickly your jaw and chin go missing. Sitting next to Florence, I couldn’t help feeling that her eagerness to reprise this conversation had been prompted, if only on a subconscious level, by my proximity. It was true our own legs were touching, but that was hardly my fault; it was a tight squeeze on the sofa. Had the others made the same inference? I wondered if I should say something to put them at their ease.
  “Maybe fat people should have to pay for an extra seat?” I suggested.
  “That would be discrimination,” Nate called from the open kitchen, where he was dicing vegetables on the marble countertop. “Fat people are one of the few groups that it’s still socially acceptable to despise.”
  Dinner, a vegan stir-fry thing served in enormous, quasi-ceremonial bowls, tasted bland and wholesome. The conversation didn’t need to be stage-managed, and I allowed Holly to refill my glass several times; Martha, who is a lightweight, barely made a dent in hers. Florence and Paul turned out to be Holly and Nate’s oldest and dearest friends from college, where they had all known one another but had yet to pair off. This had happened, in the case of Florence and Paul, only a few years earlier, after both of them had gotten out of serious relationships at around the same time. Florence worked “in publishing” and Paul worked for a company developing an app that allowed you to monitor the health of your long-term relationship. Annie used to work with Nate (doing what, I wasn’t sure) and her Paul took photographs of food for glossy magazines.
  “Bon Appétit, Taste of Home, Good Housekeeping, Saveur,” he said, listing the publications he worked with.
  As he talked us through how he might photograph the food we were now eating, Holly, who’d clearly heard all this before, turned to me and said how lucky she was to have Martha in her life.
  “Martha feels the same way!” I said. “All I hear is Holly this, Holly that.”
  They smiled at each other bashfully.
  “And Mark,” Nate said when Paul was finished. “I’m not sure I know what it is that you do.”
  “Oh, nothing very interesting,” I said.
  “Mark,” Martha said sweetly.
  “Well, for money, I do, uh, ‘brand semiotics.’”
  A puzzled silence settled on the table.
  “It’s kind of a made-up job,” I continued.
  “It sounds fascinating,” Nate said, in a voice I could only imagine wasn’t intended to sound as patronizing as it did.
  “Yeah,” Holly said. “What does it involve?”
  I gave a snort of derisive laughter—one aimed at myself, though I immediately realized it may have sounded like I was laughing at Holly’s question. There didn’t seem to be a graceful way to clarify this.
  “I provide, uh, ‘actionable cultural insights’ to companies that want to relaunch a product or change their public image or something like that.”
  “Cool,” Nate said. “Who are your clients?”
  Striving to sound merely self-deprecating (as opposed to vituperatively self-loathing), I named the companies they would have heard of.
  “Heineken!” someone said. “No way!”  
  “He’s also a writer,” Martha said, as though I were some kind of Renaissance man.  
  “Hardly,” I said.
  “What do you write?” Nate asked.
  “Oh, not much these days. I used to review films.”
  “Nice,” he said. “Have you seen anything good lately?”

As Nate was clearing our bowls I excused myself to go to the bathroom, a fragrant nook beneath the stairs. It was furnished with a vase of willow branches, like the bathroom in a trendy restaurant. Briefly transfixed by their wavy, smoke-like form, I realized I was on the verge of being very drunk. My tolerance for alcohol had all but disappeared in the previous two and a half years, during which I’d forsworn almost all of the habitual pleasures that in my twenties and early thirties had seemed the cornerstone of a happy, sane existence. At least the night was going well, I thought, splashing cold water on my face, and with a few hopeful strokes and flicks attempting to coax some life into my thinning hair. At least I was building credit.
  When I returned Nate was serving his guests a lemon pound cake. “Family recipe,” he clucked to murmurs of appreciation.  
  “Anyway, I thought it was very brave,” Annie said, picking up a conversation they’d begun while I was absent.
  “Oh, totally,” Asian Paul said.
  “I mean, can you imagine what it must have been like for her,” Florence said.
  After a few more beats I realized they were talking about the recent Dylan Farrow interview, in which she’d repeated her allegations of sexual abuse against Woody Allen. Everyone, it seemed, was united in their condemnation of him and the wider culture of misogyny that had allowed him to escape any consequences for his actions.
  This surprised me. From the way people were talking about it online, I’d at first assumed that damning new evidence had come to light, proving Allen’s guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. On following a few links, however, I soon discovered that Farrow was simply restating the allegations she’d made several times already, albeit now in front of a camera. It was moving, of course, but I didn’t see how it changed our basic understanding of the case. Like everyone else, I found Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn to be sleazy in the extreme, if hardly out of character for an ageing narcissist who had taken every opportunity, throughout his career,  to cast himself in romantic roles alongside a procession of invariably nubile starlets. Still, the story we were being asked to believe—that this same aging narcissist, in the ecstatic early stages of a new relationship with the woman to whom he remained married after more than twenty years, had taken a visit to the home of his enraged former lover as the occasion to sexually molest their adoptive seven-year-old daughter—seemed, if by no means impossible, then certainly not without plot holes. At the very least, it struck me as a subject on which reasonable people might disagree.
  Of course, I wasn’t about to say any of this. I knew I had nothing to gain by speaking up. I would have kept my mouth shut entirely had Nate not turned to me with a solemn expression and asked what I, “as a film critic,” thought about the matter. Without looking, I could feel Martha’s eyes on me as I said, innocuously enough (I thought),
  “It’s a difficult case.”
  He puckered his eyes. “‘Difficult,’” he said, as though the word were unfamiliar to him. “In what sense difficult?”
  This rankled, I’ll admit—his smug conviction that there was only one side to the story.
  As I hesitated I was conscious of a sudden constriction in the air, like the moment in a Western when everyone goes quiet and shifts their attention to the mysterious stranger who has just stepped through the saloon doors.
  “You know, just difficult,” I said at last.
  There was still time, then, for me to clarify my answer, to bring it into accord with the ideological consensus governing the room. “Difficult” in the sense that child abuse is a painful thing to talk about, I could have said. “Difficult” because there was still so much work to be done before perpetrators like Allen could be held fully to account. You know—that kind of “difficult.”
  I would have said something along these lines, I was about to say something, when Nate beat me to it.
  “What I don’t understand,” he said, his voice fluttering into a new key of self-righteousness, “is why some people still feel the need to defend him just because he’s a great artist.”
  Now this really did make me mad.
  “I wasn’t defending him,” I said.
  “Oh, I know you weren’t. I just mean, I can’t understand how there are still people out there, people who should know better—”
  “And he’s not a great artist.”
  “Well,  I don’t know where he ranks in your personal pantheon—”
  “I hate Woody Allen. No one hates Woody Allen more than I do.”
  He’d removed his glasses, the way Meryl Streep will sometimes do to signal awe or incredulity.
  “But you think maybe he’s been unfairly treated?”
  I hadn’t said this, I hadn’t even implied it, but now the idea was out in the open—well, maybe Martha has a point when she says I sometimes just can’t help myself.
  “I think details matter,” I said, her foot nudging mine beneath the table.
  “Like what?”
  I laughed derisively, and this time there was no question whom it was aimed at. “How much have you read about it?”
  “Mark,” Martha whispered as Nate gave a derisive laugh of his own.
  “Quite a lot actually,” he said.
  The others had concealed their faces behind masks of sober attentiveness.
  “So you must know,” I said, feeling a flurry of adrenaline, “that an investigation found no grounds to press charges and said it seemed as though she’d been coached. I mean,  is the Soon-Yi stuff creepy? Of course! But there’s a difference—a big difference—between being attracted to a woman in her early twenties and being attracted to a seven-year-old.”
  “A ‘woman’ he’d known since she was a child.”
  “I just said it was creepy. Everyone here heard me, right.”
  I looked around the table.
  Nate cleared his throat.
  “Well, from what I’ve read, another investigation concluded that there were grounds for prosecution but recommended against it for fear that a trial would retraumatize Dylan. Who, as far as I understand, has never changed her story in the past twenty-five years. I mean, is your idea that she just likes the attention? That she’s saying this for fun?”
  “You’re right,” I said. “You’re completely right. I’m sorry for getting so worked up. I’ve had a bit too much to drink. Clearly I need to educate myself further on the subject before I begin sounding off like this in public. Apologies again.”
  No, I’m kidding—I said no such thing. I wasn’t finished yet. I’d hardly even started. Did he do what she said he did (I went on)? Maybe. Obviously it was possible. I was sure she believed he had. But how did it undermine the cause of women’s liberation from patriarchal violence to acknowledge that there was more than one side to this particular story? How was the cause furthered by anathematizing anyone who dared to ask what were, after all, perfectly reasonable questions? Could Nate riddle me this? Could he?
  “Mark,” Martha said again, after a minute or two.
  “Just a second,” I said, and impatiently, with a flick of the wrist, without even turning to look at her, I waved away the interruption. That was all it took—a flick of the wrist. There was a chiming sound, followed by a collective gasp. I’d caught her wine glass with the back of my hand. Now I turned to look. She was covered in it, a great splatter of red wine all down her chin and neck and favorite Rachel Comey sweater (a birthday present that had set me back some five hundred dollars). People were already on their feet, calling for salt, club soda, white vinegar. Somehow the glass itself hadn’t shattered. It had landed in her lap, where the wine was pooling.
  Martha just sat there, her hands raised in a defensive posture, bracing for the accident that had already occurred.  
  I held out my napkin to her.
  “Don’t touch me,” she whispered, so I got up to see if there was anything useful I could do.

That was already a week ago now, and Martha has hardly said a word to me since. I spent the whole car ride home apologizing, or trying to, but she insisted it was no big deal. “Forget it,” she kept saying in a scarily toneless voice. “These things happen.” They did? Surely it wasn’t going to be as simple, or as painless, as that.
  Each evening when she gets in from work I ask her how her day has been, hoping for some news of Holly and Nate and the state of my reputation, but Martha has erected a force field of inscrutable politesse. My questions burn up on contact.  
  It hasn’t been an easy week, believe me. Writhing in the clutch of my runaway thoughts (had I crossed some invisible line? has our marriage suddenly entered its final days?), I keep almost walking into people on the street. We both step left, then right, before finally disentangling ourselves. “Sorry—” “My bad—” “After you—” From the looks of concern on their faces I can tell I must cut a harrowing figure. One man, an elderly power-broker type in a lustrous Italian suit, goes so far as to place his hands on my shoulders and move me, gently but firmly, to one side. I stand there a moment, islanded by the torrent of post-work foot traffic, and watch the mist ascending in billows from the subway grates.
  Today is Saturday. I’m still in my outsize Columbia sweatshirt, playing pizza chef with Olivia on the living room floor, when I hear Martha rustling into her puffer coat.
  “Where are you going?”
  “I told you: I’m seeing Julia today.”
  Had she?
  “Mommy’s pizza’s ready,” Olivia calls out.
  “Oh, angel pie, mommy has to go out right now. Will you make her one when she gets back?”
  Olivia demurs, her small round face visibly absorbing the rebuff.
  “If you’re good!” she finally says, a phrase she’s appropriated from us.
  Julia—great. I know I can count on Martha’s older sister, a longtime Mark skeptic, to weigh in evenhandedly on the events of the previous week.
  That was almost four hours ago, and I still haven’t received so much as a text from Martha telling me when she’ll be home. What is being considered, or decided, over there? I mean, I get it. I understand I didn’t cover myself in glory. But compared to the stories of male depravity that have been coming out faster than banknotes in Caracas, am I really that irredeemable? What about all the years of good behavior? Never once have I forgotten a birthday or anniversary. God knows I do my share of childcare. If the freshly rolled-out standards for male behavior are really going to be enforced so stringently, and with no grace period, then a lot of women are very soon going to find themselves without partners, co-parents. Where do they expect to get hold of a whole new fleet of men to replace the old models? Is Nate really a new man? He seems like a vintage prick to me.
  I take Olivia to the playground at the end of our block, where, indifferent to the slides and swings and merry-go-round, she spends half an hour gouging dirt with a twig that she refuses to be parted from when it’s time to go.
  Now she’s down for her nap and I’m out here hunched over my MacBook at the kitchen table, re-reading the email I sent a full fifty-three hours ago.

Hi Nate,
I can’t apologize enough for the other night. I have a tendency to get worked up over those kinds of conversations—not that that’s any excuse. Anyway, I hope we can have another go at dinner some time soon. It would mean so much to me and Martha.
Best wishes, etc.

It didn’t cost me nothing to send—I’d been half-expecting an apology from him—but so far I’ve received nothing in the way of a response.
  After pondering it for several minutes, I draft what seems like an important clarification.

P.S. I’m sure you’ve been busy (who isn’t, these days!), so no worries about not responding yet, but I just wanted to add that I think the reason I got so antsy was because you didn’t seem to believe me when I said I didn’t have a high opinion of Allen as a filmmaker. Well, that’s an understatement! He’s actually a kind of pet subject for me (as I tried to explain).  I call him the Dean of the Academy of the Overrated (a play on the line in Manhattan about all the artists the Diane Keaton and Michael Murphy characters think have inflated reputations—Mahler, Dinesen, Lenny Bruce, etc.). Just ask Martha or any of our friends. For me, he epitomizes the second-rate, the sort of work that people who don’t know any better mistake for the genuine article, with the consequence that the genuine article becomes harder and harder to recognize. So trust me, I have no vested interest here. I’d be just as happy if he did it if it meant he’d never make another film again!

  I send it, along with my initial message (time stamp and all), just in case it had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle. Then I shut the computer and set to work loading last night’s dinner dishes into the machine.
  But before long I realize my clarification requires a clarification of its own, and I’m back at the kitchen table.

P.P.S. All of which is to say: I was defending him (or rather, resisting the general urge to presume his guilt) not because he’s a “great artist” but because I felt a principle was at stake. In these increasingly tribal times, it seems that fewer and fewer people have the independence of mind to think things through for themselves. I suppose I can see why. To take an opposing point of view is to risk exposing oneself to accusations of moral backwardness (at best). We really are in a bad shape when friends at a dinner party no longer feel free to venture an opinion that deviates from the consensus of the tribe. Or when we lose the ability—or the will—to distinguish thoughtful dissent from sociopathic button-pushing. Has it ever occurred to you, as a person of obviously progressive sympathies, that the flattening of discourse we’ve been seeing on social media and elsewhere, the fashionable new contempt for nuance, is essentially right-wing? Is that something you want to be a part of? Just think about it—that’s all I’m asking.

  Off it goes, and suddenly I am feeling much better about things.
  So good, in fact, I find myself composing a further addendum in my head as I finish the dishes and make a start on the laundry. By the time I reopen my computer all I need to do is write it down.

P.P.P.S.  I can understand a college student lacking the intellectual self-esteem to think against the grain, but a full-grown man? Perhaps you believe that if you hold, and let it be known that you hold, all the “correct” opinions, you’ll somehow be safe. I am here to tell you that there is no safety. The virtue mob is irrational and unstable; they can come for you at a moment’s notice. Don’t be fooled. Just because a person is on the right side of the issues, gathers together in his heart of hearts the whole bouquet of progressive, socially sanctioned views, it doesn’t mean he isn’t moved by the same depths of aggression, the same desire to wound and humiliate, as the most vicious reactionary.

  Just as I hit send I hear the key in the front door. Martha comes through it a moment later, her coat exhaling cold air into the room.
  “Where’s Olivia?” she says, avoiding my gaze.
  I look at the time in the toolbar. Shit! It’s almost five and I’ve forgotten to wake her. Now she’ll be up all night.
  “I’ll go get her,” I say, rising from the table.
  “Leave her another minute. I need to talk to you.”
  At this, I feel a tingling sensation in between my shoulder blades.
  “I’m sorry,” I say.
  “I know. You should be.”
  “I’m really sorry.”
  A shrug. “We can talk about it.”
  “I’d like that.”
  “Not right now, but—”
  “Whenever you like.”
  Sighing, she slumps into a chair.
  “What I was going to say—”
  “I wanted to make sure before I told you, and, well, this week hasn’t been the easiest, but—” She smiles, the first smile I’ve got from her since last weekend’s debacle. “I’m pregnant.”
  “That’s wonderful,” I hear myself say, and suddenly we’re standing, holding each other, succumbing to the first hot prickle of tears. “I don’t deserve you,” I say through them.
  “Stop it,” she murmurs kindly, pulling away. “You know, Holly says it’s no big deal.”
  “She does?”
  “She was also pissed at Nate. Apparently he has a history of this kind of thing as well. Getting into arguments.”
  “She told me you sent him a nice note. He appreciated it. They both did. His mom’s in the hospital. In Albuquerque. He had to fly out there a few days ago, but he’ll reply when he can.”
  “Oh no,” I say, the tingling returning to my back. “I hope she’s okay.”
  Just then we hear Olivia starting on a crying jag next door.
  “Let me get her,” I say, closing my computer before I leave the room.