Diana's bitter ballads were an exercise in fatalism. Singing them, she recreated the moods she created them in, the only difference being that she had written the songs for Geoff and now she was singing them for Adrian.

As Diana joined her friends for an extended break to get another glass of champagne and stretch their meager repertoire, Myrine confronted her with humorous sarcasm. "Now that Geoff appears to be out of your life for good, who are you modulating that melancholy voice for? Or are you just becoming a good actress?"

Mercy laughed, slightly woozy. "Obvious enough, isn't it?" she said. "Who left without waiting to get kicked out?"

Diana shrugged and ate a chip. Despite her regular jaunts to the Happy Cucumber, her tastes in party food tended towards the decadent.

"You were a fool to throw away a chance with a guy like Adrian," Myrine said, shaking her head.

"You're getting repetitive," Diana pointed out. "And what about Matt?"

"He doesn't count."

"So what was with this Geoff, anyway?" Mercy asked.

"A guy after your own heart," Diana replied. "A literature major in a major way. Cute as hell, but all he could talk about all the time was that meaningless bullshit."

"That bullshit is not meaningless," Mercy protested.

"I prefer music," Diana stated.

Myrine was uncompromising. "Then why didn't you prefer Adrian?"

"She's got her drummer now," Mercy said.

"He doesn't count," Diana said.

"Why not?" Myrine asked, rather unfairly. She had just discounted Matt as well.

Diana shrugged. "I guess he just happened to me." Adventures had a way of falling into her lap.

"What's the matter with you two, anyway?" Mercy asked. "Here you both have perfectly nice guys who don't play male superiority games--do you realize how rare that is?--and what do you do? Complain about them behind their backs. Why do women always have to have superior men anyway?"

"They rarely do," Myrine drawled.

"Superior is something else again," Diana objected.

"Okay then, why can't women choose men who don't have much more to offer than support and admiration? Men do it all the time."

"But so do women," Myrine pointed out.

"Sure they do," Mercy agreed. "But they don't want to. They're always looking for men they can `look up to.'"

"Respect," Diana corrected her.

"But how often do men chose women they can respect?" Mercy asked.

"What are you getting at?" Diana asked.

"Why can't women love men the way men love women? Why can't we love men as helpmates?" Mercy pressed.

"Do you know a single man who would want to be loved that way?" Myrine asked. "I don't. Every man I know would end up suffering from major inferiority complexes if his `significant other' showed him up in any way. And make the woman who made him look smaller suffer for it, I might add."

"I think there are a few men out there capable of loving like that," she insisted. Mercy thought of Travis, who never had any pretensions to being her intellectual superior, as George had; maybe he would be able to recognize and respect her strengths if there were no question of competition. But it is a well known fact that the grass on the other side of the fence always looks much more appetizing. Mercy's observations were not to be trusted.

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