Nine a.m., and Marc's daughter is watching Sesame Street. Laughter drifting from her room . . . goon sounds of Oscar the Grump, who lives in a garbage pail and makes kids laugh about it . . . these happy sounds seep back through the maze of hallways over long tongues of cheap carpet curling up the wall. Marc wakes up mad. He thinks Sesame Street is the most dangerous program on the air. His daughter Meredith thinks it is worth watching five hours a day.
The words form on his lips: "Don't watch it!" But they recede, unspoken, behind his mustache. His commune is proud to say they are not oppressors of children. When Marc and his wife plan their separate but equal weekly calendars, Meredith gets to say where she wants to go too. One morning Marc awoke without his philosophy and hollered in to the littlest anarchist:
"Don't watch it!"
"Stop telling me!" Meredith shouted back. "I watch what I want, you watch what you want."
"What can I say?" Marc ponders. He has tried to explain to this 4-year-old that Sesame Street is insidious, manipulating the minds of little children by using commercial techniques to "sell" them information. Everything is done to them and for them, setting them up to be turned into a little nation of consumers. Meredith goes right on digging Sesame Street.
Marc has decided there is only one way to handle it. Someday when Meredith is out at school, he will blow up her TV.
". . . The obvious impression from that hole on 11th Street was: America's richest children are making bombs for mother . . ."
Marc never speaks for his wife either.
Patty is a talented sculptor. As they said all through college, "very talented, for a woman," which still infuriates her. She is sharper now with a comeback. Likely to wear a loincloth skirt to speaking engagements for Women's Lib, but with a save-me whisper voice over the telephone. She is also pretty. In a Prince Valiant sort of way.
Patty worked while Marc pondered dropping out of grad school ("A most chauvinistic role," he now hastens to add. "I was liberated to the extent that the woman could work. But the idea she might become famous and I would be the nobody was a hangup for me at the time. It was a very subjective thing, a very chauvinistic thing.")
Only a year ago Patty confronted Marc with a fairly clear estimate of their six-year-old marriage, from her point of view: "This relationship is essentially rotten." He agreed. Soon thereafter he began cleaning Meredith's room. Determined to keep his marriage together, Marc now attends a weekly men's consciousness-raising session.
Patty, on the other hand, is dedicated to the overthrow of the male power structure. But she is not hopeful. Today, interrupting work on a feminist article, she sits calmly back on her corduroy sofa . . . exceedingly calm in a crimson poncho.
How does she relate to bombings? "I like them," she whispers. "But that's not logic. That's frustration." Her eyes light up—the eyes of a wife who, while waiting for the voice of some digital employee of Con Ed or Bell, has put in her one hundred hours on the other end of a Hold button. "Bombings," Patty believes, "hit the system where it shows. Everybody can see its regard for property over people."
Be honest. Do you relate to the Consolidated Edison Building? When you first heard that the General Telephone Building got a little nick in its side, what did you say within your secret self? Goody? Right on?
At this point revolution-minded males, like Marc, and serious Women's Liberationists, like Patty, part ideologies. Patty bought her copy of Jerry Rubin's book in early March.
"Sure, I'd love to Do It," Patty says. "But Rubin and Abbie Hoffman are sexists, they're still looking up girls' skirts. They're still doing it to me. I can't join their revolution. They want to do it the wrong way."
On the wall of Patty's study is a four-color school map of Africa. She would like to go there. In Africa, Patty says, there is no penis envy. Only vagina envy. In Africa God is a woman.
Marc must be at the commune's free store by three. A health-food distributor, from whom the commune's 30 families buy cooperatively, will be delivering the $400 weekly order. To each young family falls the task of varying the macrobiotic Basic Seven—brown rice, vegetable brown rice, rice cakes, Mu tea, salt plums and, for dessert, rice cream with honey—which all taste approximately the same. Like rice. They are not doing it for their health. They are preparing for anarchy.
"Most people refuse to deal with what might happen in a post-revolutionary period," Marc says. His normally drifting speech pattern shifts abruptly. Words begin spinning out like Fast Forward on a tape recorder.