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  You & A Guest

January 21, 1999

You &...
Jenny Lyn Bader

co-author of
(Warner Books)

with her friend Bill Brazell.

Jenny Lyn and Bill really are just friends, but thanks for asking. Jenny Lyn is also a playwright and essayist living in New York City. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Next: Young American Writers on the New Generation (Norton). Her play "Manhattan Casanova," a comedy about a serial seducer, was featured in the 1998 National Playwrights Conference at the O'Neill Theatre Center, where it won the Edith Oliver Award.

BG: What prompted you to write He Meant, She Meant?

JLB: There was so much talk about men and women trying to say the same things and speaking different languages, but no dictionary was available. Your typical library would have a Norwegian-Sanskrit dictionary but no male-female dictionary. There seemed to be an opening.

BG: I enjoyed your piece on Girl Talk in the New York Times. What do you think is the earliest recorded example of Girl Talk?

JLB: Oh, I think it dates back to ancient times, when Ruth and Naomi had the first lunch date in the Old Testament. "Whither thou goest, I shall go" -- that's the stuff of Girl Talk.

BG: Do guys know about Girl Talk?

JLB: Not really, because Girl Talk occurs in their absence. Whenever women are being directly catty and competitive on TV and saying things like "I'm gonna make Thad regret taking you to the prom 'til the day he dies!" I can tell that a guy wrote the line. Women are more likely to say, first, "I'm gonna make Thad regret taking Kayla to the prom 'til the day he dies!" and shortly thereafter, "Kayla! Your dress is so super fly!"

BG: Can you ever have too much Girl Talk?

JLB: Just watch the ratio of talk to life. If for every hour spent with a guy, seventeen hours is spent analyzing that hour with your girlfriends, that's overkill. If you're not careful, you can spend much more time analyzing relationships than having them. And of course beware if your confidante is a former White House staffer with a little score to settle. Especially if you hear a click.

BG: A click? You mean, like that feeling that something's totally meant to be?

JLB: Um, no, BG --

BG: Right. Duh.

JLB: But a beep is fine. It's a battery thing.

BG: Why is one sometimes drawn to the wrong confidante?

JLB: So many reasons. It can be a perverse urge to tell the worst possible person the worst possible piece of information... In the case of Monica Lewinsky, she was clearly desperate for a mentor. Mentors are very important for young women. The sad fact is that while career women do now exist, they still don't get a whole lot of encouragement. Single working women are inevitably asked by confused relatives why they aren't married yet. And when women do receive career advice it is often terrible, like the idea of making a job transition from the Pentagon to Revlon.

BG: Will the impeachment hearings lead to a He Meant, She Meant sequel?

JLB: I don't see why not. We could define terms like obstruction of justice: "when you return gifts to your ex's staff rather than burning them."

BG: That must mean you and your co-author are still getting along pretty well.

JLB: Bill and I get along great now. We did have some fights during the writing process. The fights upset us until we realized how male-female they were and we decided to publish them in the back of the book. Why, do you get along with your collaborator?

BG: I have to. He draws me.

Want more Jenny Lyn Talk?

  • TAKE Jenny Lyn's quiz! Book stud, or literary loser?
  • READ what Jenny Lyn told the Berlin Morning Post about the bureaucratization of foreplay (get out your German-English dictionaries)!
  • SEE Jenny Lyn wear the wrong color on CNN!

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