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Foreign language typing available. 477-6671 504 W. 24th St. Austin, Texas newspaper story,” I said obliquely. Junior laughed from somewhere deep in his throat. Then he looked at me hard, as if I were hopeless, and continued his bizarre exposition. Battles of the sexes, Junior explained, are fought mainly on weekends, and mainly in bars, public parks and theatres. Sometimes the battle is fought hand-tohand, especially in bedrooms and backyards. “Look at emergency room admissions,” Junior hollered. “The number of people brought into emergency rooms doubles and triples every weekend. The only factor which can account for that increase is the battle of the sexes.” Naturally, I reminded Junior that most emergency room admissions are owed to auto accidents and to male-on-male shootings and knifings. “Ah,” but Junior said, shrugging his shoulders, “most of those accidents and shootings are owed to alcohol, to drunkenness. And drinking, you know, is mainly owed to romantic woes.” As this may attest, Junior can be a hard man to reason with. Nevertheless, serenity required me to challenge his fears. Drinking is owed to a lot of things, I told him. “Yes, but no,” he said. “When the Nazis began to lose World War II, they drugged wounded soldiers with methadone and sent them back to battle again. Well, the original wounds that drive most people to drink are wounds from the Battle of the Sexes. Soldiers might use methadone, but alcohol is the anaesthetic of this war, the War of the Sexes.” Junior offered a paradigm. Johnny gets drunk in order to bolster his courage, said Junior, and Johnny thinks he needs courage because he plans to take Janie out. But if Janie stands him up maybe she goes out with Jimmy instead Johnny winds up driving his car into a telephone post or shooting Jimmy. I did not want to tell Junior that I feared he had strained his sanity, at least, but I did suggest to him that no one would accept his thesis. The government, I pointed out, classifies deaths by various categories, but there’s no such listing as “death due to battle of the sexes.” Junior looked both to his right and left, and leaning close towards me, whispered a sedition. He said that official mortality tables are falsifications. “The government counts the casualties of the battle of sexes under other categories, so nobody will know how bloody the combat really is,” he said, not quite frothing. “Murders, suicides, auto deaths, all of those are just cover-up categories. Behind half of those deaths, there are romantic motives.” “The statisticians, they’ve all been brainwashed, both the men and the women,” Junior told me. “They listen to radio, they read fiction, they can’t decipher the truth because there is so much propaganda.” According to Junior, the entire content of Top 40 radio programs is a chronicle of skirmishes. The ordinary popular hit song is “nothing more than a battle hymn.” “Look,” Junior told me, “what words do you want? ‘What the world needs now is love, sweet love’ is that the kind of words you want? Man, people die with words like that on their lips. People go chasing after love, and they wind up dead on our pavements.” He went on to say that the entire fiction collection at the university library was an assemblage of “war propaganda.” “Those novels,” he told me, “are mainly about love and death. If they were about conventional military exploits, we would say, ‘what a warlike nation to have such a literature’. Well, ours is a warlike culture, only it’s sexual dominance, not territory, that we’re fighting over.” Romeo and Juliet, Junior told me, were “the first Kamikazes.” Though I could not accept Junior’s argument, I was naturally curious to know which side he believed was winning the presumed conflict. Junior eyed me with disdain. “It’s like the Cold War,” he frowned. “It’s a battle that can’t be won without risking the extermination of our species. Just think, if the battle of the sexes were escalated to all-out conflict, there would be no posterity.” When Junior began to tie politics to personal affairs in this way, I decided that I had heard enough. That sort of connection is not characteristic of responsible thinking. Finding no means at my disposal, nothing in my stock of arguments, which could silence the poor man, I bid Junior farewell for the afternoon, hoping that he would sober up from thinking. But as I walked away from his apartment, I found myself infected with his weakness. I thought over the things Junior had told me, and came to a decision, of a kind. Valentine’s day is coming up soon, and this year, when I buy my wife a box of the usual candies, I’m going to buy her a box in the shape of a purple heart. If any of what Junior says is true, I’m quite sure that I’ve wounded her recently. 0 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13
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