He Said, She Said

The life of letters: Being married with a vocation in common is hard work — and tons of fun, as screenwriter and creative director Partrick O’Connor and English professor and novelist Margaret McMullan continue to prove. “He Said, She Said” are excerpts from their writerly exchanges — daily e-mails to each other.

Margaret: Now that I’m in New York and have a little time between literary panel discussions at the writer’s conference and everything is 75 percent off, what do you want for your birthday? March 17 is just around the corner.

Patrick: Glad you arrived safely. Why is everything 75 percent off in New York?

Margaret: I want to say, “It’s the economy, stupid,” but that’s just so rude to say to one’s husband. Evidently there weren’t enough people getting and spending over the holidays, hence the sales to make way for more stuff. Now, when people get that fat government refund check, they’ll buy a whole bunch of junk in Spring. Never mind more debt. We’re living right smack dab in the middle of Vanity Fair – the novel, not the magazine.

Patrick: Last time you bought my birthday present while on a trip to New York, I had to go on a diet and a rigorous fitness regimen so I wouldn’t look like a lumpy sausage while wearing it. I think I’ve outgrown, literally, trendy New York men’s fashion. I don’t have the abs. Or the pecs. Or the guns. I do love the rugelach from Zabar’s, though!

Margaret: How about a pair of green corduroys? You can wear them on St. Paddy’s Day.

Patrick: Already have a pair.

Margaret: How about something more …exotic? I’m headed for The Village Saturday morning.

Patrick: Exotic? How exotic? Clothing or food?

Margaret: There is the baker on Christopher Street who sells cakes and cookies shaped like …well, various body parts.

Patrick: I love cakes and cookies! What body parts are we talking about?

Margaret: Never mind. How about lime green snakeskin slippers from Barney’s?

Patrick: You gave me red slippers from the Land’s End catalogue last year. They’re still in service. In fact, I’m wearing them right now.

Margaret: How about an orange desk blotter to highlight your office colors?

Patrick: Where did you see an orange desk blotter?

Margaret: In the ûber-trendy Barney’s Home section.

Patrick: Barney’s is dangerous, you know. They have a strange power over you. Your credit card is not safe at Barney’s.

Margaret: That’s why I have a new Barney’s card! They promised me points. Toward my next purchase! I’m going back tomorrow!

Patrick: Uh-oh. It’s too late.

Margaret: Okay, it doesn’t have to be from Barney’s.

Patrick: Sorry I’m being so difficult. You don’t have to get me anything. Really. I don’t need a thing. Honestly. I’ve got everything I need. No kidding. I just want everyone to be happy (that’s what my dad always said when we asked him what he wanted for his birthday or for Christmas).

Margaret: God bless your dad, but I want everyone to be happy AND have a gift! I’m serious –  there are sales everywhere, so in between the readings from Joyce Carol Oates, John Irving, and Russell Banks, I’m determined to bring you back something from the Big Apple. Hey, I know. How about a BOOK?

Patrick: You know I love books. You can probably get one cheaper at Amazon.com, though…

Margaret: But not one made out to you, Patrick Joseph Thomas O’Connor, born on St. Paddy’s Day, signed by your fellow Irishman, Frank (Angela’s Ashes) McCourt. Wrap that up in a green bow with a package of raspberry rugelach from Zabar’s, a loaf of chocolate babka and three spinach knishes and we’ll have a multi-cultural feeding extravaganza, thereby ensuring that we’ll never ever be able to squeeze into any more trendy clothes
from Barney’s.

Patrick: Well …I don’t know …I really don’t need anything…

Margaret: C’mon…

Patrick: Okay. Surprise me.

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