by Friedrich Nietzsche

Why stealest thou along so furtively in the twilight, Zarathustra? And what hidest thou so carefully under thy mantle?

Is it a treasure that hath been given thee? Or a child that hath been born thee? Or goest thou thyself on a thief's errand, thou friend of the evil?--

Verily, my brother, said Zarathustra, it is a treasure that hath been given me: it is a little truth which I carry.

But it is naughty, like a young child; and if I hold not its mouth, it screameth too loudly.

As I went on my way alone to-day, at the hour when the sun declineth, there met me an old woman, and she spake thus unto my soul:

Much hath Zarathustra spoken also to us women, but never spake he unto us concerning woman.

And I answered her: Concerning woman, one should only talk unto men.

Talk also unto me of woman, said she; I am old enough to forget it presently.

And I obliged the old woman and spake thus unto her:

Everything in woman is a riddle, and everything in woman hath one solution --it is called pregnancy.

Man is for woman a means: the purpose is always the child. But what is woman for man?

Two different things wanteth the true man: danger and diversion. Therefore wanteth he woman, as the most dangerous plaything.

Man shall be trained for war, and woman for the recreation of the warrior: all else is folly.

Too sweet fruits--these the warrior liketh not. Therefore liketh he woman;--bitter is even the sweetest woman.

Better than man doth woman understand children, but man is more childish than woman.

In the true man there is a child hidden: it wanteth to play. Up then, ye women, and discover the child in man!

A plaything let woman be, pure and fine like the precious stone, illumined with the virtues of a world not yet come.

Let the beam of a star shine in your love! Let your hope say: "May I bear the Superman!"

In your love let there be valour! With your love shall ye assail him who inspireth you with fear!

In your love be your honor! Little doth woman understand otherwise about honor. But let this be your honor: always to love more than ye are loved, and never be the second.

Let man fear woman when she loveth: then maketh she every sacrifice, and everything else she regardeth as worthless.

Let man fear woman when she hateth: for man in his innermost soul is merely evil; woman, however, is mean.

Whom hateth woman most?--Thus spake the iron to the loadstone: "I hate thee most, because thou attractest, but art too weak to draw unto thee."

The happiness of man is, I will. The happiness of woman is, He will.

"Lo! now hath the world become perfect!"--thus thinketh every woman when she obeyeth with all her love.

Obey, must the woman, and find a depth for her surface. Surface, is woman's soul, a mobile, stormy film on shallow water.

Man's soul, however, is deep, its current gusheth in subterranean caverns: woman surmiseth its force, but comprehendeth it not.--

Then answered me the old woman: Many fine things hath Zarathustra said, especially for those who are young enough for them.

Strange! Zarathustra knoweth little about woman, and yet he is right about them! Doth this happen, because with women nothing is impossible?

And now accept a little truth by way of thanks! I am old enough for it!

Swaddle it up and hold its mouth: otherwise it will scream too loudly, the little truth.

Give me, woman, thy little truth! said I. And thus spake the old woman:

Thou goest to women? Do not forget thy whip!

Thus spake Zarathustra.

the first thought of Zarathustra

Vernon sat with his chair facing Efrem, not the TV, which he made a point of ignoring. He liked the Budweisers from the fridge and grinned genially at the younger man. "Perfect day, am I right? Or almost, if only there were a friendly fifty-year-old lady here too. Or one for you, one for me."

Efrem snorted. "Fifty? Try twenty, or twenty-one."

"I defy you to come up with any way that a young lady would win out over an experienced one. I'm talking real life, not fantasy life. No, don't look at me like that, I'm serious. But make the playing field level: head-to-head, an older lady and the young girl, each with a couple of kids, no job. Which one to pursue?"

Efrem sipped his beer while he considered the question. It was ridiculous, of course, but he was aware that these man-to-man conversations do center around crazy premises like this, making that no grounds to throw out the question. "Well, I'd say it depends."

"Bullshit. Everything else being equal, the fifty or the twenty?"

"Fifty-one vs. twenty-one. I could make a case for either one being more desperate and therefore less desirable."

"Wrong. The twenty-one year old girl would automatically be more desperate. The fifty-one year old probably has a twenty-one year old among her offspring, clearly less work than a toddler."

"Okay. I'll give you that one. But how about a matchup without the children but each one is the owner of an unbreakable smoking habit? I'd say in that case the younger one would have a better chance of survival and thus would win out."

Vernon interrupted. "She might last longer, but she'd probably be more messed up in the head, tipping things the other way."

"Now you're bringing on the bullshit."

"You're so smart, then, case three: this time each lady has a neat little stash of cash. Say six month's worth of living expenses for two. Which one do you go for, all else being equal?"

"Meaning which one is going to be willing to share and not put up a big fuss? Isn't it obvious?"

"What are you, talking about, obvious? Young or experienced?"

"Young! I don't want to be on an allowance from my Mom, I want a frisky girl who wants to see a good time."

"Wrong again. The girl won't be able to make it past one month under those conditions. She'll either end up blowing it all, or splitting. The mature woman would see your stellar qualities for what they are and want to invest in them in a prudent, yet alluring, fashion."

Efrem finished his beer. "I don't know what to say to that. It sounds like you have had the pleasure already."

"Who, me? My wisdom is strictly theoretical, my boy, strictly through close observation. Let's not make this an interrogation about me now."

Then there was a knock on Efrem's door and it opened. A girl dressed in jeans and a winter coat walked in and waved hi to Efrem. The two men laughed.

"What, did I miss something funny?" she said.

"Vernon, this is my friend Elna. My just-a-friend friend Elna."

Vernon grinned. "We mean you no harm, just-a-friend Elna. Nice to meet you."

She called from the kitchen. "Hey, what happened to all the beer that you had?"

"We squandered our nest egg," Efrem called, and again the two men laughed. "Party's all over. You might as well be fifty now."

"Fifty-one," corrected Vernon.

Elna came back in to the living room holding a Coke. "So, all right, I know you're an idiot, Efrem. You, I just met, but I have my suspicions."

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