It is said Women sprang forth from Venus,
Masterpiece of class, species, and genus.
And they reach for the stars,
Unlike Men, sent from Mars
Who must filter each thought through a penis.
He found her crumpled and discarded
As though for a strong gust
To sweep her away
Or for a lighted match
To consume her
He found her curious and compelling
As if constructed from
His own missing parts
Or bits of brightly colored
She was dissonance and eloquence
Surrounded by crimson velvet cords
And flashing yellow lights
Yet he reached out one wishful hand
Until, fiercely, she withdrew
A frightened anemone
Too soon the words formed in his mouth
And would not remain hidden from her ear
She swatted at the syllables, though he longed
To capture them like fireflies in a jar
To marvel at how they sparkled:
—I care for you.
She wept: “I’m damaged. I’m incomplete.
What do you want from me?”
—I’ll take what I can get.
She dared: “You’ll take what I give you!”
–Whatever you give me– I’ll take it.
A promise was made
He kept his eyes down and his hours busy
At how the sidewalk cracks
Led straight to her door
And how his morning coffee
Was dark like her voice
She trembled; he dreamed of the time she would
Tremble around him
So mercurial; she was silvery slick
And always changing
But true to his promise
He remained steadfast
Through days that pulsed with her heartbeat
And nights haunted by her ghosts
He breathed it all in
Watched her eyes for angels
Until there in the tickling grass
She rested her head on his shoulder
One evening near my fifteenth birthday, I was summoned to stand before the Kitchen Tribunal. My mother was there; recently widowed, understandably shell-shocked, and exhausted by the demands of a fragile household and three needy teenagers. Also in attendance were my two older brothers, their adolescent snickering temporarily pushed aside by the weight and severity of the matter at hand, which was this: A few days earlier, an acquaintance of theirs (several years older, a bit snarky, and appropriately enough, named Dick) had driven past me as I crossed the Market Street Bridge, then reported to my big brothers that their little sister walked like she wanted it. The family was solemn and disapproving; the kitchen smelled of fried egg sandwiches and scandal.
Well, I was affronted! I was mortified! I was. . .intrigued. So after clearing my good name with Mom and the brothers, I retreated to ponder this new development. I turned it over in my mind: She walked like she wanted it. Those words couldn’t possibly apply to me, a self-described wallflower and slow starter who hadn’t yet learned how to flirt. I mean, I certainly knew what IT was, but I wasn’t sure I wanted IT anytime soon. To be honest, IT was a little scary. Besides, exactly how did I walk like I wanted it? What was happening back there that I didn’t know about?
Therefore, I turned to my cultural icons for clues. The men on Gilligan’s Island (even the Professor!) were dumbstruck each time Ginger walked by, but I’d have described my walk as more . . . Mary Ann-ish. And there weren’t enough Underalls in the world to make my back porch swing like Ann-Margret’s. But in the privacy of my room, I had to admit I kind of liked knowing something about the way I walked caused Dick to take notice. Is this what made Aerosmith’s Walk This Way such a dirty song?
Until that moment, the only womanly walk I’d ever analyzed was my mother’s. Her long legs moved with quick, purposeful strides. “Keep up, Lisa!” she’d insist as we rushed from store to store each Saturday morning, trying to get our shopping done before some deadline (Yes, I grew up in a world with downtown stores but no Amazon.com.).
Mom also instructed me on how to walk like a lady. “Move your legs from the hips, not from the knees, Lisa.” And because I tended toward pigeon-toes: “Point your shoes forward, Lisa. Don’t let your toes turn in when you walk.” I assure you, Mom was not being critical; back in the day, it was a mother’s duty to teach her daughter the finer points of being a woman. How ironic that the very walk my mom worked to cultivate in me would one day attract the attention of boys like Dick.
I never managed to duplicate my mother’s walk, though. At 4′ 11″ inches tall, I just don’t have the equipment to cover ground in the same fashion. Now 79, Mom still out distances me step by step.
But as I made my way through the mall recently, I couldn’t shake the eerie feeling of being stalked by my Great Aunt Lois (May she rest in peace.). Great Aunt Lois was smart and generous, a veteran school teacher with a no-nonsense attitude, a woman esteemed by the family at large during my formative years. Great Aunt Lois’s walk, however, was nothing like my mother’s.
The Grand Dame was short, stout, and plagued by arthritis. She waddled stiff-legged from here to there with knees and hips that moved like rusty gears. I imagined her carrying an oil can in that oversized handbag on her arm. And whoever was caught climbing a flight of stairs behind Great Aunt Lois had better not be in a hurry; coaxing those creaky joints to rotate in such a manner was a process that simply could not be rushed.
And so it was Great Aunt Lois’s walk that followed me past each store window— in the form of my own reflection. Nowadays, I walk like I want some ibuprofin and a nice, long, soak. And since he’s a grandpa now, I’m pretty sure Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler walks this way, as well.
And such, friends, is the walk of life.
My father was a man. My brothers are men. I’ve been married to a man for nearly 30 years, and I spawned a male child.
If through no means other than association, one might think I’d have come to understand men quite well by now. Truth be told, however, my knowledge regarding those of the male gland can be summed up in two statements:
1. In Man World, something is fun only if it a) makes noise, b) hurts, or c) smells bad.
2. The basic difference between men and women is this: Women wear black because it’s versatile, slimming, ageless, seasonless, sexy, and classic; men wear black because they think it’s navy blue.
Sensing many women might be lacking even the slightest comprehension of what goes on in the male mind, a popular men’s magazine offered to shed some light on the subject. The article’s author, himself a man, claimed there are 15 basic fears harbored by all men. They are:
*Hair in the drain (going bald)
*Getting caught noticing another woman
*His father’s death
*Being a lousy lover
*Not being a god to his kids
*Living paycheck to paycheck
*Not seeing his kids grow up
Wow—that’s a pretty daunting list. Who knew men bore the burden of so many insecurities? But I sincerely appreciate the writer’s effort to educate us women, and it only seems fair to return the favor. So what scares a woman? Here, in no particular order and compiled by me and my research department (the women I eat lunch with), is a partial list:
*How we look first thing in the morning No matter how alluring she appeared or felt the night before, a woman dreads her early morning visage. Greasy hair, puffy eyes, blotchy complexion, sour breath . . . intensify those charms with a bladder loaded for bear and the result is something we’d rather you not see. That’s one reason many women aren’t interested in early morning romance . . . who can feel sexy in that condition? Besides, there’s vulnerability in letting him see you in such a raw state. That’s something we’d rather save for later in the relationship, such as when we’re in the delivery room giving birth to his baby.
*His silence It’s no secret many women like to talk out their problems. It’s a system that’s worked for us since the dawn of time, and we see no reason to change. But in a cruel joke, the goddess created many men who prefer to suffer in silence. They disappear to the privacy of the den or workshop to stew and putter, leaving us to wonder why we can’t just talk about it. Oh, we know our men are just cooling off and allowing time for things to smooth over. So what are we afraid of? We’re afraid that in all that silence he’s contemplating a breakup or secretly wishing we would come and fix things with just the right words. We’re afraid because that silence of his can be deafening.
*Hair issues For women, hair is the source of endless drama. The hair on a woman’s head is her crowning glory, and her body hair a lifelong enemy. A man’s fear of going bald is nothing next to a woman’s; at least society accepts a bald man. In fact, men as varied as Yul Brynner, Andre Agassi, Billy Zane, Michael Jordan, Vin Diesel, Patrick Stewart, and Cal Ripken Jr. have proven they can be attractive even without hair. A woman, however, can never have too much hair on her head. On the other hand, the shadow of a moustache is like the kiss of death. Hair on your toes? Ugh. No, from the time a girl enters puberty she will shave, sugar, and depilate. She’ll submit to the stinging electrolysis and the painful bikini wax—even the full Brazilian wax job. Hair scares us. We’re scared to lose it from our heads and grow it on our bodies. Either situation is a self-image crisis!
*Bra or swimsuit shopping Nothing make a woman feel less secure about herself than stepping into a harshly lit dressing room with an armload of garments designed by sadists to make her feel lumpy and inadequate. She just knows it’s going to end badly.
*Our own girly bits Those appendages and accoutrements which make us female are so prone to breakdown and malfunction an entire medical specialty is devoted to keeping our stuff up and running. One body part or another is always developing a suspicious lump or oozing an unpleasant discharge. Mammograms, pap smears, D & C’s, steel stirrups, cold specula . . . all scary stuff. But not as scary as what could happen if we don’t submit to these uncomfortable but necessary health care procedures.
*The Other Woman She’s around every corner, she’s waiting at every social event, she’s the new hire at your husband’s office, she’s someone you’ve known for years. She’s out there, and she’s waiting to take him away from you. And if you and your man are in your forties, you can bet she’ll be half your age. The bitch.
*Guy stuff We’re smart. We’re employable. We’re accomplished. We’re worldly. But many of us feel downright stupid when you start talking about earned run averages and single malt whiskeys. We can’t name our favorite historical battle, can’t rattle off who was named MVP of Super Bowl Whatever, or tell what car was first to use an electrical ignition system. We can’t recite the plot of The Dirty Dozen or prove the best way to defend ourselves during a zombie attack. What really scares us is that you can.
*Ruined relationships A woman’s world is defined by relationships, and leaving a trail of fractured friendships, broken romances, and estranged family members is a sign of failure. Oh, we know it’s not possible, or even desirable, to get along with everyone all the time. But since conflict resolution and comfort giving are seen primarily as feminine traits, something must be wrong with a woman who’s followed through life by a wake of hard feelings.
*Finding purpose The path of our foremothers was predetermined. They reached puberty, got married, managed a home, and reared however many children nature chose to send. It was hard work, but it was in the cards for just about every woman. Nowadays, women struggle to find meaningful careers and balance them with the demands of their personal lives. Yes, we know men have always wrestled with job stress and God bless them for it. But culturally speaking, the whole thing’s still rather new for our gender, and the thought of never meeting our destiny is scary! Plus, guys, you have to admit no one ever argued that the fall of the American family can be blamed on the emergence of working fathers. That’s a heavy thing to lay on us.,
*Ultimate Fighting Championships This is a concept so scary to women, most of us lack the words to describe our aversion. Can there be any doubt this debacle was some man’s idea of fun?
*Getting naked Most women enjoy a relatively narrow window of comfort for getting naked in front of someone else. It’s likely to be soon after our 19th birthday, perhaps between 7 and 8 pm on a Tuesday. That’s about it. The rest of the time, the thought of letting another human being—especially a male human being with amorous intentions—see us in the altogether can be extremely disconcerting. We’re painfully aware of our flaws (even the ones invisible to others), and usually prefer to keep them hidden by clothing or dimmed lights.
*Gravity As the saying goes, Rome fell and one day, Honey, so will you. After the age of 28 or childbirth, whichever comes first, nothing on a woman stays in its original location. Our eyelids, jowls, breasts, bellies, butts, and knees all start to sag in what can only be explained as a terrible design flaw. And since we can’t all pay to have our droopy parts relocated, the fear of gravity and its effects contributes heavily to the previously mentioned fear of getting naked, and to the next item on our list.
*The gift of lingerie Unless she happens to be within that previously mentioned narrow window of comfort for getting naked in front of another person, nearly every woman cringes at the thought of opening a gift from her man to find some lacy, transparent, completely impractical garment. Yes, we know it’s the thought that counts. Yes, we know in his own way he’s trying to be flattering. But good lord, does he really expect us to strap on that silly deal he found at Skanky Ho’s “R” Us? And does he think that when we do, we’ll look like the woman he saw in the Victoria’s Secret catalog or perform like the one he saw in a porn movie? Does he realize we’re going to feel like a right fool when our non-surgically-enhanced, non-airbrushed parts are flopping around with nothing to support them but a couple of pasties and a few , strategically placed lengths of floss? Now that’s scary!
*Sex OK, this one’s a wash. I don’t think either gender holds a monopoly on bedroom insecurities. Everyone suffers from performance anxiety, no one wants to pale against the memory of a former lover. Life would be easier if we’d just cut each other a break, but because we’re humans that’s not like to happen any time soon.
*The whole mother thing This is it: the big ticket item, the whole package. Motherhood is the queen of all womanly fears. It represents the biological purpose of being female, and is at the core of our most intense human connections. And a woman doesn’t even have to be a mother to experience mother-related drama. There’s the fear of his mother. Deep inside, women are afraid they will never measure up to the woman who raised him—especially in his eyes! Then there’s the fear of becoming your mother. That fear has nothing to do with love. Even a woman who idolizes her own mother will die a little on the day she looks in the mirror and sees her mother’s face, opens her mouth utters her mother’s favorite platitude, or realizes she just bought a handbag that would look at home on her mother’s arm.
Becoming a mother affects each and every aspect of a woman’s life until the day she dies. What’s there to be frightened about? Motherhood is beautiful and natural, right? The fear is of not knowing how to be a mother! What if I don’t bond with my baby? What if I’m too strict or too permissive? What I have no more sense than God gave a goose when it comes to parenting and I ruin this perfect little heaven-sent angel? Being a mother, even a first time mother, is supposed to magically transform a woman. What if it doesn’t happen? What if motherhood swallows up my relationship with the man I love?
So there you have it: fifteen things that can scare the bejeezuz out of even the strongest, most capable woman. My crack team of researchers and I invite your comments. What have we misjudged? What have we left out? What scares a woman?
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but men and women are different. It’s true. And I’m not talking about the most obvious differences: the secretion of a Stooge Appreciating Hormone, and the first thought that comes to mind upon hearing the word facial. So while one mustn’t perpetuate gender stereotypes, realists have no difficulty acknowledging the cavernous divide that exists between the genders.
1. Black and Blue
Women wear black because it’s classic, versatile, slimming, and it goes with everything. Men wear black because they think it’s navy blue. Yes, the same male eye which can detect the hint of a nipple 100 yards away and beneath three layers of winter clothing, simply cannot distinguish between black and dark blue. A woman’s eye, however, not only can recognize blue, but the subtle differences among seven seemingly identical pairs of black pumps. Women can also see discernible facial expressions on cats.
2. Massage Bliss
An hour-long deep tissue massage in a dimly lit room, with scented candles, essential oils, and soft music. . . responses to this pleasurable diversion vary almost exclusively along gender lines. An extremely scientific study consisting of my asking several massage therapists proves the fact: No matter how relaxing the massage, a woman will try to stay awake for the whole thing because she just doesn’t want to miss a single luxurious, pampering minute. Most women would rather fall asleep during. . .well, during almost anything else. Men? My sources tell me that most men fall into a deep sleep the moment the massage begins and must be awakened afterward. AND they consider the masseuse’s fee to be money well spent.
3. Pillow Fights
When a woman decorates a room, she budgets time, thought, and money toward the inclusion of pillows—coordinating throw pillows that tie together the living room’s color scheme; numerous fluffy pillows that make a bed look cozy and oh, so inviting; fun, oversized pillows for lounging on the floor during game night or movie night. To a woman, there are pillows for every room and a room for every pillow. And a guy? Except for the one pillow he sleeps with at night (which is likely to be ancient, flattened, and suspiciously stained), a man regards pillows with the same level of impatience and disdain that a teenager reserves for punctuation: They are useless wastes of space and effort inflicted upon the world by masochists.
4. Pairing Up
It’s just this simple: Women marry potential; men marry a dream. A woman chooses her mate based on the man she believes he will one day become, while a man falls in love with a woman he believes to be perfect and expects that she will never change. Before you throw your coffee cup at this blog page and label me an unromantic bitch, just know that there’s plenty of science to back this one up, and it has to do with both genders’ desire to perpetuate the species. They just see the pathway from different perspectives. There is a bit of bad news, however. The woman who marries a man she expects to mold into someone else will be every bit as disappointed as the man who expects his wife of many years to look, act, and think exactly as she did as a new bride.
5. Tab A and Slot B
Every part of a woman’s body has a job to do and requires a lifetime of upkeep and maintenance. Every part of a man’s body is just one more thing for him to play with. Generations of sly women have suspected the Almighty is really female simply because She favored them with reproductive organs that are safely tucked up inside the body, and not just hanging out there all vulnerable and exposed to the elements like her male companion’s. That is until she realizes that her tucked-up parts are prone to suspicious lumps, discharges, and malfunctions that necessitate frequent submission to humiliating, invasive medical procedures, while a man romps through life with his best friend never more than an arm’s length away and ever ready with an impressive repertoire of party tricks. Pop quiz: What are the female equivalents of tea bagging, playing bag tag, or pissing your name in the snow? Can’t think of any? Now you get it!
I’m not suggesting there’s anything about either gender that needs to be fixed; in truth, don’t we find our differences among life’s great puzzles and pleasures?
~You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.
DOUG FLOYD, quoted in 1,600 Quotes & Pieces of Wisdom That Just Might Help You Out…
Purely by accident, I watched the David Beckham underwear commercial 47 times in a row.
When I could breath again, I was fixated on this thought: The human body is an amazing thing.
The same revelation comes to me each time I see Christina Hendricks.
At this time of year, I think a lot about boy parts and girl parts–which is not as much fun as it sounds. You see, it’s during the summer months when three major health-related events converge: my yearly physical, my pap test, and my mammogram. I call it The Perfect Storm.
I know that only the physical is an experience shared by both genders; the other two procedures are all about the girls. So why are boy parts on my mind? Well, spending my afternoons in a doctor’s waiting room allows me time to ponder this postulate:
Every part of a girl’s body has a job to do and requires a lifetime of upkeep and maintenance. Every part of a boy’s body is just one more thing for him to play with.
Having only first-hand experience at being a girl, I am limited to making observations. But it is my observation that from the time a boy learns how to pee standing up, his remaining years are one long quest to discover what else it can do. While the female body seems determined to develop suspicious lumps, secretions, and glitches, the male body romps through life carefree and giddy with its own impressive repertoire of party tricks.
Yes, guys, I know you have that whole prostate thing lurking in the shadows. But until you’ve experienced the sensation of cold speculum against warm flesh, unless you’ve feigned indifference while another human being palpates your cervix as though choosing a ripe avocado, I just don’t want to hear it.
In a few weeks I’ll report for my yearly mammogram, and I know exactly how it will be. The mammography room of our local hospital is designed to make a woman feel comfortable and comforted. The decor is muted tones, all peachy and rosy. A delicate floral border and attractive art prints serve to draw one’s attention away from the scary machine that dominates the room’s center. The attending technician will smile pleasantly and speak softly as she asks a series of personal quesions: Are you, or could you be, pregnant? Do you have breast implants? Have you been performing monthly self exams? She will calmly explain every single step of the procedure, apologize for the coldness of her hands as she arranges me in unnatural positions against hard glass plates. I will be reassured and complimented on the amount of discomfort I can stand–because as we both know, mammograms are a “no pain, no gain” kind of a deal. And thirty minutes later I’ll leave for home feeling as though I’m smuggling matzah in my brassiere, but satisfied that I’ve taken an important step in safeguarding my health.
In my mind’s eye I can see the male counterpart–let’s call it a testography. The testography lab is sparse and set up for both a quick entrance and a quick exit. No time for formalities or delicacies–after all, the testographer doesn’t want to be there any more than his patient does. Instead of artwork, there is a single sign on the wall announcing that happens in the testography lab stays in the testography lab. Eye contact is avoided, as is physical contact of any kind. No need to apologize for cold hands here–the patient will position his own misters between the plates of glass, thank you very much. And when the procedure ends, he can soothe himself in an anteroom where hot wings are served and gigantic tv monitors alternate Great Moments in Sports and classic Three Stooges reels.
Or perhaps the thought of spending my summer being poked, flattened, and scraped within an inch of my life has me just a bit touchy. Man might have been created in God’s own image, but at least Mother Nature was wise enough to tuck my girly parts safely inside my body. And that might be an even trade for not being able to do that cool standing up to pee thing.