So tonight's edition of Blog-a-paloozza is to write about something we wish we knew back then. Hum, where to start?
On the eve of my 49th birthday, I think of all the on-the-job training I had when it comes to knowing about men. I don't have any brothers and was raised by my phenomenal mom following my parents divorce. There were a few years living with my father, and a few living with my step-dad after mom remarried, in addition to step-brothers I saw on occasion.
In high school and college, I didn't date much (although I had one great boyfriend in each). But for the most part, I leaned about men through marrying one. I cannot recommend this learning curve.
First, there's the language difference. When a woman asks "hey, honey, how about stopping for something to drink" what she means is my feet are bleeding through my shoes and I need to stop while I'm still mobile. A man's answer can be (and has been) "no, I'm good." I wish I knew that I had to say what I needed, instead of presenting what I needed as an optional, here's-what's in-it-for-you kinda deal.
A close second is the inability of most men (I said most, not all) to engage in reciprocal conversation. I mean answer a softball question with more than a "yeah". What I really mean is ask ME a question.
This is why I tend to pass on most social invitations. The very last thing I want to do is go to a party, dinner or whatever and find myself next to a guy for an extended length of time. Like more than five minutes. Why? It becomes an interview.
Me: Hey, how long have you lived in Chicago? Him: Six months.
Me: Well then, welcome! Where were you before moving here? Him: San Diego.
Me: Gorgeous city. I spent a weekend there for a friend's wedding. Him: (silence)
Me: So, you will come to enjoy all four seasons! Him: (silence, with an eye roll)
Me: Now for the big question - Cubs or Sox?? Him: I don't follow baseball.
Me: OK, I'm off to refresh my drink. Him: Didn't notice I left.
I once spent an entire flight from O'Hare to LaGuardia seated next to a man who did not ask me a single question, despite our hour plus flight, full of questions from me. True story. As I said, I'm done with interviews.
Finally, I have come to understand that men are generally quite happy to sit back and watch a woman complete every task, run every errand, feed every child, clean every room, feed every pet, address every envelope, make every bed, plan every trip, shop for every party, remember every milestone, create every social outing, facilitate every conversation, carry every bag, solve every problem, calm every nerve, anticipate every obstacle, knock down every obstacle, all in the name of "staying out of our way."
And then stare at us with a quizzical "why are you so tired?" Please don't get me started on issues of intimacy. Men are typically all-too-happy to have women do all the work to get them across the finish line, pass out and oh, were you wanting some, too?
Yes, women might be from Venus and men might be from Mars, but we must find a way to co-exist.
As the mother of two boys and one girl (the youngest), I love that my daughter has been enrolled in a Masters-level class in dealing with men. I wish I had her spark and spunk when I was her age. She is learning how to throw a punch right back, speak up during dinner to make certain her point is heard and learning the daily hygiene, eating and viewing habits of the male species. This would have come in quite handy for me in the early years of marriage.
A dear friend of mine also has two older brothers. When she applied for jobs out of college, she listed that fact on her resume. Tell me negotiating that family dynamic doesn't build an enviable skill set.
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