Explaining Metropolitan Diary

Mmm Hmm

“Sometimes when I read Metropolitan Diary items on Mondays, I don’t necessarily ‘get it’ because they involve people I don’t have anything in common with and don’t feel like understanding,” writes someone today, who has chosen to spend the morning grappling with meaning in this most-aged of newspaper columns. “I’ve read it six times now and can’t make any sense of it. And I love sarcasm!” Actually, we can help!

The item goes like this.


Recently on a beautiful day, I was walking south on Fifth Avenue. The street was very crowded, and while we were waiting for the light to change at 49th Street, the woman behind me said in a distinctly British accent, “I wonder where the diamond district is.”

I thought I would be helpful, and turned around and said, “Oh, that’s on 47th Street.”

Her male companion replied in an equally distinctive British accent, dripping with sarcasm, “Well, thanks a lot.”

J. J. Levine”

Even a careful reader will have to slow down and visit this item a few times to discover why it is “charming” or “humorous.” The joke, you see, lies in the understated presence of gender.

The woman, you see, is wondering where the diamond district is. Why does she wonder this? Because she enjoys diamonds, as all members of her sex do, and would most likely prefer to own some and/or more of them.

She is traveling with a male companion, who, in his statement to the writer, reveals implicitly that he is not just her traveling companion but most likely her spouse or at least lover. There are two implications in this:

1. At the very least, he will now be forced to spend his afternoon accompanying her as she looks at diamonds, which is beneath him, or irritating to him, or simply boring to him.

2. Most likely, however, the implication is that he will be forced or persuaded or manipulating into the purchase of diamonds by his female partner. Because women do not have money of their own, and are dependent upon the income of men, and because they also frequently withhold sex in exchange for goods, he has been put in a difficult position by the revelation of the location of the diamond district.

This is very very humorous! Most likely because presumably the deeper joke is that the woman’s dowry was not extensive enough to provide for the purchase of very many diamonds. She is not worth as much in diamonds as her father paid the man to marry her! Unfortunately, the writer is not inquisitive enough to convey how much cattle the woman was worth at the time of her marrying-off. But, yes, like I said: very humorous!