“Like most lonely women, like most women of all kinds, Margaret Dageman had an imaginary lover, with whom she entered the conversation and even the gossip of her friends. I used to think this sort of gossip was specific to girls or women who were left out. An imaginary lover explained it. He was married. He was in Korea. He was married and in Korea. He was not married or in Korea, he was the end of some line where a train must be taken. Wherever he was, he was not placed to appear or to walk them to the door. I used to think it was only lonely women who, according to temperament, flatly said, or shyly intimated, or just insisted that they had, in fact, this lover, this escort, this beau, this young man, this fiancé, whatever they called him, whom social necessity had obliged them to invent. But it is not so. It is not so. Most women have had them, at some time in their lives, or all their lives. And I do not mean the private man of daydreams or psychoanalytic literature. It is of the nature of this invented lover that his existence be a matter of public knowledge and, with luck, belief. If a woman were able to manage her own news to perfection, he would be thought to be her profoundest secret, the steady center of her emotional life.
"I have known a woman’s own husband to be the central character in such a fantasy; quite often, in the lives of intelligent or worldly women, the man himself is real. Quite often too, like most thoughts and suspicions, the fantasy has truth in it; the invention may be reciprocal, or shared. In fact, the only thing this secret lover has in common with any classic rape fantasy is this: that is important that this story come out in spite of a woman’s reticence and discretion, against her will. This leads to any number of false confidences, any number of lies told in the false confessional mode. It is a way for a romantic temperament to generate its story line, its lifelong plot. He may be elusive. He may be importunate. He may be neither, or both. He can be anything. The major difference between Margaret Dageman’s imaginary lover and anybody else’s was only that she engaged in a bitter, an epic quarrel with him.”
—from “Speedboat“ by Renata Adler