In propositional logic, dilemma is an inference rule that says:

(X -> A) & (Y -> B)
X v Y
therefore, A v B

This is sometimes also called a "constructive dilemma."


Right before I turned to leave, she said, "All I think about is you."

No matter what I did, I couldn't get that out of my head as we cruised away in that powder blue '67 Chevy. The interior was a light blue with white trim in the middle of the seats, as if to catch the last evidence of wrongdoing on just the right night. I'd had her in the passenger seat of that Chevy two nights ago, and was afraid to reach over. Walter was one big bastard, and the beating that would come on top of me topping his girl would be brutal. Yet she tells me this. She tells me, "All I think about is you."

How's a guy supposed to sleep well on something like that? It's beyond me. I had dreams of her in rodeo outfits and on TV doing a go-go dance routine in black and white with just a hint of color seeping in around the edges.


************


Jayne Mansfield stares back at me from the shiny, shiny pages of Mr. Hefner's men's magazine, but I'm not a man. I'm just a boy. A boy's not supposed to see those huge knockers lathered up with soap and sticking out of the bathwater like that. It can't be good for him.

She's got small breasts, like a real girl should have. But they are perfectly round. I can tell by the way they show under that pink sweater. Normally, pink and powder blue wouldn't look good together, but when she was in the passenger seat, it was perfect.


************


Walter is a little crazy. He's kinda fat and pretty tall and I've seen him beat the living shit out of guys bigger than him. What she sees in him, I really don't know. He's so dumb that you can make jokes about him to his face and he really doesn't get it. He'll laugh. It won't be long until one of the other guys tells him that the jokes are really about him. And that I'm the one making them.

If he's gonna beat my ass about that, why shouldn't I just go ahead and see what this angel means when she says she thinks about me all the time? How could it hurt more when his fat fist hits my jaw? It's like one of those things in the Bible when you already know what's gonna happen and you can't stop it. Right?

The dreams about her start to get more intense. Sometimes I call her on the phone before I go to bed just to get the sound of her voice just right so that I can script the thing correctly. She likes to talk. Most of the talk is about Walter and how bad he treats her. All I have to do is say, "Why do you put up with it?" But I'm scared. I cover for him. I say, "He's not a bad guy." He is a bad guy. I need to say this to her. I feel my jaw swelling up with pain when I think about it.

She's an angel of God. Her name is Philomena. She's got light brown hair that hangs straight and is cut perfectly to fit the middle of her back. The middle of her back is arched like that of a racehorse. This is why her small breasts seem so round when she sits in the passenger seat of that '67 Chevy.

She's proud of who she is, and this is why she should hear what I have to say about Walter and why I should say it to her.

I will say it. I'll say it tomorrow.


************


Mamie Van Doren has her bottom up in the air from the pages of my reading material. I'm not old enough to see a woman of that age with her bottom arched upwards for my imagination. I'm just a boy. This cannot be good for me. I wonder how Philomena's bottom would look in that position. It would be smaller, yes? That would be good. Because this one looks like way too much to handle.


************


Walter bumps into me in the hallway the next day. He bumps into me in a not nice way. He says, "Have you been calling my girl on the phone?" I tell him that she and I have become friends, but that there is no doubt that he is the real man in her life. He tells me that this is a good thing because she means more to him than something he really cares a lot about (he's not good with metaphors) and he'd have to hurt anyone who tried to mess up his relationship with her real good.


************


Ursula Andress lies there with her sly grin floating above a pubic arch which could have launched the last war of all wars. I should not see a pubic arch at my age. I'm just a boy. My thoughts float to Philomena's lower belly and I wonder if she has a lot of hair down there. I'm tarnishing her in my mind while I love her in my heart.

Oh, Jesus. I've said it now. I've said it in my mind and this can't be good. LOVE is not just a word; it's a world-shattering event that only happens when you speak its name. And I've said it now.


************


We're all invited to a party at Philomena's house this Friday night. There are four of us guys in the powder blue '67 Chevy and we're going to have fun. Her parents are home but they've promised to let us have the run of the house and the grounds. She lives on the outskirts of town and there's a lot of grounds. When we get there, Herman's Hermits are on the turntable singing, "How Do You Do What You Do To Me," (I wish I knew, so I could do it to you). Even the silly songs are throwing her visage into my head. I couldn't escape the conclusion of this Biblical episode. This would have to be the night. I could feel the weight of Samson's fist in my jaw as I attempted to tell Delilah he was but an illusion of strength.

I'm standing in the driveway, after four beers. This is the limit of my tolerance for alcohol and I'm as stupid as I will get before I have to lie down and rest. Philomena walks up the driveway, as if on saffron robes with Ginkgo leaves trailing behind her. That smile is golden. It's money.

"John says I should leave Walter. What do you think?"

The crux of the moment could not have been drawn more clearly than if a shaft of light had penetrated the cloudless sky and marked an X on the short distance between us.

"I think John is right." I said.

Her smile did not change. That's what I will always remember and attempt to learn from. The same smile that brought her out to ask me this question, after she'd told me, "All I think about is you," is the same smile with which she turned away from me and walked back into the party, as the Walker Brothers sang, "Make It Easy On Yourself."

Within moments, Walter was on his way to see me. He was not smiling.

Di*lem"ma (?), n. [L. dilemma, Gr. ; - = twice + to take. See Lemma.]

1. Logic

An argument which presents an antagonist with two or more alternatives, but is equally conclusive against him, whichever alternative he chooses.

The following are instances of the dilemma. A young rhetorician applied to an old sophist to be taught the art of pleading, and bargained for a certain reward to be paid when he should gain a cause. The master sued for his reward, and the scholar endeavored to lude his claim by a dilemma. "If I gain my cause, I shall withhold your pay, because the judge's award will be against you; if I lose it, I may withhold it, because I shall not yet have gained a cause." "On the contrary," says the master, "if you gain your cause, you must pay me, because you are to pay me when you gain a cause; if you lose it, you must pay me, because the judge will award it."

Johnson.

2.

A state of things in which evils or obstacles present themselves on every side, and it is difficult to determine what course to pursue; a vexatious alternative or predicament; a difficult choice or position.

A strong dilemma in a desperate case! To act with infamy, or quit the place. Swift.

Horns of a dilemma, alternatives, each of which is equally difficult of encountering.

 

© Webster 1913.

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