I had to think quick if I wanted to get Nancy off the topic of my father while he sweated in the pantry. “Have you ever heard of this thing called the Bechdel test?” I asked. “To pass the test, a film has to have at least two female characters in it, and at some stage in the movie the women have to have a conversation with each other, and the conversation has to be about anything — anything in the world — other than a man. The vast, vast majority of movies fail the test. A disturbing number don’t even have more than one female character.”
“Oh?” said Nancy, feigning interest. “So for instance, right now are we talking about a man?”
“No,” said I. “Technically we are talking about women in movies who talk about men.” Again I flourished my knife towards the pink pantry doors. “It just shouldn’t be that difficult for screenwriters to put words into the mouths of women without having them come to blows over existentialism in the middle of a beach party. You could slip one in — a conversation I mean — right in the heart of it and nobody would know any better — nobody would notice a thing.”
“I take your point,” said Nancy Sinatra. “But, I mean, in reality it’s only natural that we talk about men sometimes. They make up 48% of the population after all, except in China; to me it just doesn’t seem very nice to go about acting like they’re not there at all or that they’re incapable of ever doing anything worthwhile except for seeding the next generation.” She had her back to the pantry thank fuck and couldn’t see my father’s bloodshot eyes shining through the slats. She swished her glass round and round, then when she’d stopped, the olive on its stick kept swirling while she stared at it. “Surely when two women come together, and one of them says, ‘How are you, sister?’ and the other one says, ‘Sister, I’m miserable,’ then the topic of men is going to come up at some point?”
“I’ll let that one slide, Nance,” said I. “All I’m saying is, there are so many other things in the world to talk about, let us not linger on the morbid countenance of certain bloated actors for any longer. It is a beautiful day; the sunlight is breaking over the hills; how tender and pink are the clouds this morning, like little fluffy elephants, spiriting hither and thither on sweet zephyrs, [blah, blah, blah]…” I put my arm around Nancy and walked her over to the window, so she could look out at the magnificent, shimmering view.