The most withering female put-down moment of my life happened on Santa Monica Blvd. back in the mid ’80s. I was tooling along in my moderately depressing downmarket Mazda when I saw a fetching blonde driving a really snazzy, powder-blue Mustang convertible with a “4 SALE” sign taped to the back window. I was so taken by the double-barrelled beauty of the girl and the car, which was freshly washed and gleaming in the magic-hour light, that when we pulled up to a stop light I rolled my window down, smiled at the blonde and said “How much?” She took one look and said, “Too much.”

The second most withering moment happened last July. I was texting with the lady I’d fallen in love with (i.e., the affair that ran from early May through late October) and in the middle of a discussion about something fairly basic she texted (and I mean right out of the fucking blue), “I’m expensive.” Whoa. The last time I’d heard that line was when Marilyn Maxwell said it to Kirk Douglas in Champion (’49). We all know what she meant, of course. Obviously not just “I’m high maintenance” but “I might be too high maintenance for you, given your apparent income and frugal tendencies. I’m not saying I definitely am but…well, you tell me.”

It would have been one thing if I was a compulsive cheap-ass who was always looking to squeeze a nickel until the buffalo shits, but I was probably more of a give-give-giver with her than I’d been with any other girlfriend in my life. I was very generous and comme ci comme ca about everything. Everything was cool and steady. And yet she dropped that line on me. I’ll never forget that moment for the rest of my life.