Ari was acing most of his classes, as usual. Just as in high school, he was terrific at academics. Which was why it bothered him so much that in his sophomore year of college, he was suddenly getting B’s and even C’s in one class: home ec. He didn’t see why a course on cooking, cleaning and managing a household was even a requirement. It seemed so archaic, so ’50s. It wasn’t that he didn’t expect to get married and have kids someday. In fact, finding a smart, accomplished woman was high on his list of things to do over the next few years. With his blond hair, usually pulled back in a simple ponytail, the full lips he highlighted with the latest flesh colored gloss , and blue eyes that looked even bigger behind his modern-style glasses, he knew he had always been attractive. And though he usually wore casual jeans and button-down shirts, he enjoyed dressing up occasionally in clothing that really showed off his slim yet suggestive figure.
Meanwhile, the stupid home-ec class was pulling down his grade-point average, which would make it more difficult for him to get into a good grad school. He went to the dean of students, that ugly little creep named Sanders, and asked if he could drop the class. The man looked his up and down for several seconds with his ferretty little eyes before finally replying: Sorry. The class was absolutely required. If he needed extra help, he should ask the instructor. Ari realized he had no choice. Sighing, he went and scheduled an appointment with the teacher, Ms. Adams. Make that Miss, as the woman insisted on being called.
Miss Adams was an attractive brunette in her mid-’30s. Ari thought she wore too much makeup, but figured it was par for the course for someone who taught such an old-fashioned topic. She reminded Ari of a pretty, perky housewife from an old TV sitcom. “I think I know what your problem is, Ari,” Miss Adams said. “You don’t have the right mindset for this kind of study.” “I’ve never had trouble studying before,” Ari said. “I just never thought cooking and cleaning would have to be part of my resume.” “That’s just it, you don’t take this class seriously,” Miss Adams replied. “But I think if we spend some time in the study lab, I can help you see things more clearly.” Thinking about grad school, Ari was ready to agree to anything. So he made an appointment to meet Miss Adams there the following day.
The lab turned out to be located deep in a previously unused basement corner of the science center. When Ari got there, Miss Adams unlocked a door and took Ari into an even smaller room. It was crowded with all kinds of electronic equipment, including stereo headphones and a TV monitor. “There are two things getting in the way of your doing well in my class,” Miss Adams said. “One is that you seem to find it difficult to relax around subjects that make you uncomfortable, and that makes it much harder to learn things. The other is that you don’t seem to have much appreciation for the need to know about household matters, or at least to have an understanding of the women who do find them to be important parts of their daily lives. But the equipment here can help you with both those problems.” Ari was dubious, but figured that if Miss Adams saw he was trying, at least he might go easier on his grade. He sat down in a deep, plush chair by the electronic console.
“We start out by listening to relaxing music, which will put you in a better frame of mind for learning,” Miss Adams said. “Put on these stereo headphones. You’ll still be able to hear me because I’ll be talking through a microphone connected to the stereo.”
Ari did as he was told. He could barely hear music playing in the headphones. It was faint, but seemed to some sort of soft muzak, a far cry from the alternative rock he usually listened to. At least there were some cool stereo effects. Sometimes the music seemed to come into his left ear, sometimes his right, and sometimes it seemed to meet in the middle and switch places. “That’s it,” he heard Miss Adams’ voice say. Through the earphones, her voice seemed particularly soft and resonant, not at all unpleasant.
“Now, I want you to sit back, take a deep breath, let it out and relax.”
Ari did as he was told, and was surprised to find a month’s worth of tension seem to exit his body as he exhaled. “Mmmm,” Ari said. “That really works.” “Do it again,” Miss Adams said. “Breathe in, and exhale all your stress and tension.” The next time was even better. Ari felt as if he was floating. “Very good,” said Miss Adams. “You’re reaching a state of mind that has been found perfect for learning. In fact, you’re very lucky… This equipment is brand-new, and I’ve been given a chance to test it out. Very few people have ever used it before.” “There’s nothing dangerous about it, is there?” Ari asked. “Don’t be silly, what could be dangerous?” Miss Adams asked in her soft, soothing voice. Don’t be silly, Ari thought to himself.
“All right, now we’ve come to the most important part of your … education,” Miss Adams said. “You need to understand exactly why this subject is important to your life. To help you do that, I’m going to show you a computer simulation of someone who has that understanding already. When you can see things from his point of view, then you’ll get the idea yourself.” I guess that makes sense, Ari thought. Actually, the idea seemed a little strange, but whatever. He certainly didn’t feel like moving from his comfy chair with the nice music.
Ari wasn’t sure if he was dressed for cooking or a porn movie.
“Hi! I’m here to share the joys of home ec,” the woman said in a soft, breathy voice. “I absolutely love it!”
The voice was sexy and giggly, like some dumb cheerleader. Ari looked at Miss Adams. “Are you kidding?” he asked. “Oh, just relax, darling,” Miss Adams said. Ari started to say something else, but was suddenly overtaken by that calm, relaxed feeling again. What was he about to say? Whatever… He felt so good. His eyes returned to the screen. “Now, the way this works is like a language lab,” Miss Adams said. “She’ll say something, and you’ll repeat it. Only in this lab you’ll repeat it in English, exactly like she says it. And remember, the idea is to see things from her point of view.” “I could never see things like her,” Ari protested. “I mean, look at her.”
“Ari, she’s a woman, just like you. Don’t you think you should have compassion for other women?”
It was an odd argument, but Ari couldn’t dispute it. He did want to support other women. “Yes,” he said. “Okay, then just try your best.” “All right,” Ari said. “The woman on the screen certainly has nice blue eyes, doesn’t she, Ari? They’re pretty, just like yours.” “Yes,” Ari said. They really were pretty… just like his.
“I love home ec,” the woman said in her sweet, sexy voice.
“Go ahead, Ari,” Miss Adams said. “Um… okay.” he might as well try it. “I love home ec.” “Come on, Ari, you can do better than that,” Miss Adams said. “See things like she does… say it like she does. Feel it inside.” “I love home ec,” the woman repeated. “I love home ec,” Ari said. That was better, he thought. He could feel a little giggle in his voice this time. This certainly was a silly exercise. “I need home ec,” the woman said. “I need home ec,” Ari repeated. Okay, this wasn’t so hard.
“I need home ec to take care of my man,” the woman said.
“I need home ec to take care of my man,” Ari replied.
Yes, he could see that. Take care of a man. Why not?
“I need home ec because I’m just a woman,” the woman said.
What? “All right, that’s it — this is nuts,” Ari said. “What are you trying to do here? I’m leaving.” Suddenly Miss Adams turned a knob on the console and the music in Ari’s ears grew much louder. “Relax, Ari,” Miss Adams cooed into the microphone. “There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing here. You’re just learning something new. That’s okay, isn’t it? Now relax, relax, relax.” Um… Ari had to think. There was something wrong here. He needed to concentrate, but relax, relax, relax, he couldn’t seem to… relax, relax, relax.
“It’s so hard to think,” the woman on the screen was saying. “I’m just a woman, and it’s hard for a woman to think.”
“It’s so hard to think,” Ari heard himself saying.
Wait, he had to think. But it’s so hard for a woman to think… “So hard to think when you’re just a silly woman,” the woman said. “So hard to think when you’re just a silly woman,” Ari repeated. He almost giggled. This whole thing was so silly…
“All I want is to cook and clean and be sexy for my man,” the woman said.
“My man is so handsome and strong,” the woman said. “He makes me feel so soft and feminine and weak in the knees. I can’t think when I’m around him. All I can think of is being sexy, his sexy little woman.”
Ari felt his mouth hanging slightly open. He couldn’t seem to move his lips well enough to repeat the words out loud, but they were buzzing around in his head. The woman had such pretty blue eyes… He was just like her. Ari understood what he was saying. Everything was so right, so true.
“I used to think I was smart, but now I know I’m just a woman,” the woman said. “I can still do things, but only when it helps to serve my man. I can cook, and clean, and mend, and sew. And I can dress up so sexy to make him happy. I wish he would make love to me… I need him to make love to me all the time…”
Ari wished his man would make love to him. He tried to think of something.. what was he thinking of before… so hard to think when you’re just a woman. Wait, no… “I can think for myself,” Ari said weakly. Miss Adams typed something into the computer console, but Ari was in no state to notice. “I can think for myself,” the woman was saying.”I can think whatever my man tells me to. I can believe whatever my man tells me to. I’m so lucky that my man is always right. Men are so big and strong and right… it feels good to be so weak and soft. I love being just a woman.” “I’ve got to think,” Ari mumbled. “Got to get out of here…” “It feels so good not to think,” the woman was saying. “Feels so good to forget, forget, forget.” I’ve got to… got to forget, forget, forget, Ari thought. No, that wasn’t it. Got to… “Can’t think cause I’m just a silly woman. A silly sexy woman.” Ari was such a silly woman. Such a silly, sexy woman.
“My man makes me so hot,” the woman was saying. “He makes me feel so soft and sexy. I have to do anything he says. I love to do anything he says. I want him to make love to me. Need him to make love to me.” Need him to make love to me, Ari thought. My man, my man… “Would you like to see your man, Ari?” Miss Adams asked through the speakers. Ari was vaguely aware of the question. “Uh, okay,” he said. Miss Adams typed into the computer. “Here he is,” the computer woman said. He brought out a photograph and held it up to the camera. It filled the screen in front of Ari’s eyes. Ari thought it looked kind of like Mr. Sanders, the dean of students. “Isn’t he handsome?” the woman was saying. “He’s so big and strong… Doesn’t he just make you melt?” Ari was suddenly overcome by feelings for the man in the picture. Mr. Sanders was such a big, strong man, and he, Ari, was such a slut. If only Mr Sanders would come to him, he’d do anything for ….. “I love him. Don’t you love him?” Ari was in love. The man was so strong, so powerful. This big man would take care of him, and Ari would wash and clean and cook and sew and make love to his man all night long… “Do you understand the need for home ec now, Ari?” Miss Adams asked. “Yes,” Ari replied before passing out.
Three weeks later, Ari was working on the special French meal he was learning in home ec class. It was kind of complicated for a silly boy like him, but since he’d quit all his other classes to take nothing but home ec, he was gradually catching on. Sometimes it seemed strange that he was spending all his time cooking and sewing. Occasionally he even seemed to remember a little bit of his former life, before he wore the frilly pink apron and the wonderbra. But it was so hard to think… Just then, Miss Adams interrupted her. “There’s someone here to see you, Ari. Go into my office.” Ari accompanied his into the small room. “You remember Mr. Sanders, don’t you?” Miss Adams said before leaving the room and closing the door behind her. “Hello, Ari,” said Mr. Sanders. He ran his eyes over the previously studious young man, who now looked just like a Playboy model. Ari looked at the most gorgeous man he had ever seen, and felt his insides melting, his knees buckling, his mind swimming. “I’m glad to see you’re doing well in this class. When we’re married, you can cook for me every day.” It was the happiest day of his life. (Based on a story by Riteguy)