My father once told me that the most important thing every man should know is what he would die for. If you don’t know that, he said, what are you worth? Nothing. You’re not a man at all.
Most people are only too delighted to wreck each other’s heads. And for the tiny minority who do their pathetic best not to, this world is going to go right ahead and make sure they do it anyway.
Ma and Mrs. Daly were on speaking terms, most of the time; women prefer to hate each other at close range, where you get more bang for your buck.
In my neighborhood, gossip is a competitive sport that’s been raised to Olympic standard, and I never diss gossip; I revere it with all my heart.
In all your life, only a few moments matter. Mostly you never get a good look at them except in hindsight, long after they’ve zipped past you: the moment when you decided whether to talk to that girl, slow down on that blind bend, stop and find that condom. I was lucky, I guess you could call it. I got to see one of mine face-to-face, and recognize it for what it was.
I’ve always loved strong women, which is lucky for me because once you’re over about twenty-five there is no other kind. Women blow my mind. The stuff that routinely gets done to them would make most men curl up and die, but women turn to steel and keep on coming. Any man who claims he’s not into strong women is fooling himself mindless: he’s into strong women who know how to pout prettily and put on baby voices, and who will end up keeping his balls in their makeup bags.
I listen to the things people want out of love these days and they blow my mind. I go to the pub with the boys from the squad and listen while they explain, with minute precision, exactly what shape a woman should be, what bits she should shave how, what acts she should perform on which date and what she should always or never do or say or want; I eavesdrop on women in cafés while they reel off lists of which jobs a man is allowed, which cars, which labels, which flowers and restaurants and gemstones get the stamp of approval, and I want to shout, Are you people out of your tiny minds?
I know what the right woman, at the right moment, can do to a man—not that Tessie seemed to have got away scot-free herself. Some people should never meet. The fallout spreads too wide and gets into the ground for much too long.
Here’s the real risk in Undercover, in the field and out: you create illusions for long enough, you start thinking you’re in control. It’s easy to slide into believing you’re the hypnotist here, the mirage master, the smart cookie who knows what’s real and how all the tricks are done. The fact is you’re still just another slack-jawed mark in the audience. No matter how good you are, this world is always going to be better at this game. It’s more cunning than you are, it’s faster and it’s a whole lot more ruthless. All you can do is try to keep up, know your weak spots and never stop expecting the sucker punch.
Her forehead was a maze of little anxious grooves, from a lifetime of worrying about whether everyone within range was OK.