On the ski lift taking them to the top of the snow fields, François said to Vicky:
F.: I do think that we human beings have a mating season.
Vicky cuddled against him.
From the top of the mountain, swaddled in warm clothes, equipped with their skiing gear, they could see to the east in the far distance the preternatural view of the Nevada desert shimmering like liquid gold on the horizon.
Having grown up in Colorado, Vicky was a natural on skis. François tried to ignore his fear of heights and followed her down the slope rated very difficult.
After a moment of apprehension he forgot the steepness, managed with frequent curves to control his speed and began to evolve almost as gracefully as his friend.
Vicky was waiting for him at the bottom of the descent.
V.: What a run! Let's do it again, she said enthusiastically. They slid leisurely to the foot of the lift, and sat together once more on a chair.
At the end of the afternoon, they went back to the lodge which François had rented for the New Year's Eve holidays.
Jamie and his girlfriend Carol were already there enjoying a hot toddy. François and Vicky joined them.
Jay, a professor from the dept, and his wife Helen, an older couple who had come along, arrived a few minutes later. A whiff of cold air from the outside scented with fir entered the room with them.
Seeing the drinks, Jay exclaimed: Great minds think alike! As soon as the sun has set, it turns so cold. For the past hour I've been dreaming of a hot spiked drink.
Helen: Please, Jay, don't show the youngsters what is an old professor.
Jay: What is an old professor?
H.: Vicky, François, Jamie and Carol still think that it is a pundit, not a drunkard.
Carol feeling the tension slowly rise said soothingly: It's not being a drunkard to need a hot drink at the end of a day on skis. Let me prepare it for you.
Jay: Make one for Helen too; she complains about me, but she has the same wants.
Vicky: François was talking to me about human needs, said Vicky giggling, already tipsy after one swig.
F.: Well, I think we humans have five fundamental needs: food, protection, confidence in oneself, control over one's environment...
V.: ... and sex, didn't you say?
H.: You should tell Jay.
Jamie: Shouldn't you add "understanding the world"?
Carol: Jamie wants to become an engineer and he is in awe of scientists.
Jamie: I'm just thinking that one of the drives of "we humans", to speak like François, is to make sense of what we perceive around us.
Jay: It's amazing that this world even lends itself to rational explanations, that it obeys rules, if you think of it, it is unsettling, said Jay helping himself to more rum.
F.: It is true that one of the things that fascinate me about my cats is that they seem so adapted to their world, so smart, and at the same time not caring a fig about explaining anything.
F.: Yet, when they are in the house, nowhere to be found, in the fourth dimension, if I open a can of tuna for them in the kitchen, within a few seconds they show up silently, unhurriedly, as though just by chance, to eat it.
H.: Jamie, you describe my husband when he was young.
Jay: And François describes me when I'm old? I'm perfectly adapted to this world, still smart I'm told, but no longer so keen to rationalize it. It is at the same time too simple, and too complicated.
V.: I wish Bob were here, he would have the definitive comment on that matter.
C.: We sound like the protagonists of "Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?".
F.: It's a wonderful play, showing how relationships take place simultaneously at different levels, cortical, limbic and reptilian, to use MacLean's model.
V.: I suppose I can see what you mean. For me the best level is that of affection.
H.: My husband grows more and more reptilian as time goes by.
Jay: Helen, you are the one who will give a bad image of old professors's wives.
Jamie: Did you see the movie made from Albee's play by Mike Nichols?
C.: It's a great movie too! Nichols had a streak of successes. He also made The Graduate.
F.: How interesting! The themes, while not the same, do overlap. In each case, the main argument is about the worlds of old and young people at first in unison, eventually colliding.
Jamie: And they always drink like fish.
C.: Richard Burton is wonderful in "Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
F.: And Elisabeth Taylor so beautiful!
Jay: Yeah, that was before she blimped out.
C.: It's soon midnight everyone. Let's not squabble but make a wish.
V.: I made mine.