In the office during a coffee break, Milton Korn and Honey Bloom discussed the country home proposal for the hundredth time.
“My mother wants to meet you,” Milt said. “She makes me ashamed.”
“I’d be proud, if I was you,” Honey said. “At least she’s concerned for you, wants to make sure you’re safe. My mother didn’t care about me from the first time I pooped in my diaper and she had to change me. She’s told me as much. After that traumatic experience, my father had to hire a nanny. Beulah was wonderful, but she didn’t erase the maternal rejection.”
“That’s awful,” Milt said. “Couldn’t your father do anything about it?”
“He was too absorbed in his businesses. Getting richer and richer was his hobby, his favourite pastime as well as his profession,” Honey said. “I try to feel okay about it ‘cause Daddy knew what he was doing, and now I’m rich as hell.”
“Why do you work? Are you rich enough to not work?” Milt said.
“I’m rich enough for everybody in these offices to not work,” Honey said.
“So why do you?” Milt said.
“What would I do with my time?” Honey said. “Who would I see? Assholes both male and female, trying to hook up with an heiress. This way, I see co-workers, some I like, some I don’t like, some like me, some dislike me… it’s like real life, you know. I would hate to be a princess in an ivory tower. I would just like a nice, sincere, wholesome life, free of parasites and full of animals.”
“Animals? What kind of animals?” Milt said.
“All kinds. Horses, cows, goats, chickens… well, maybe chickens aren’t quite animals, but you know what I mean. Sheep, llamas, dogs, cats,” Honey said.
“Why?” Milt said.
“Because animals are honest. They do what they do. They don’t pretend to do something while they are really doing something else,” Honey said.
“I have a feeling somebody’s hurting,” Milt said. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No, I’m okay, really. Anyway, animals don’t care what you look like. They don’t see the difference. They don’t love you ‘cause you’re gorgeous, they love you ‘cause you’re you,” Honey said.
“About meeting my mother,” Milt said. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”
“Why?” Honey said.
“She’s already decided you’re a whore,” Milt said. “If she sees that you’re about six feet tall, slim, gorgeous and older than I am, she’ll wonder what you would want with the likes of me.”
“Don’t demean yourself, Milt. You’re very handsome, you have a good sense of humour, I love your speaking voice, and I love the way you smell,” Honey said. “I’m also Jewish, that should count for something.”
The room suddenly seemed too small to contain the two of them. Honey shocked herself by what she had just said, and Milt was wiped out for a moment. Of course he’d been stricken by Honey, as was almost every man whose eyes rested upon her. He never let himself think there could be any relationship between himself and Honey. He had been painfully aware of the rhinoceros in the room that nobody was acknowledging. He hadn’t known that Honey was overlooking the rhino just as he was.
Suddenly, there was a different aura around the idea of Milt and Honey sharing a country home, and each of them was filled with anticipation and inhibition.