It’s a Human Thing

18 Aug
Robert Clarence Beard

Robert Clarence Beard

“I love mankind, he said, “but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular.” — Dostoevsky

One of my male students questions me.

“You haven’t seen The Notebook?” He lifts his eyebrows, incredulously.

“No”, I say.

We are discussing the significance of rain as a symbolic motif.

“That’s a chick flick”, a girl beside him says.

And he blushes, all 235 linebacker pounds of him. I interrupt her.

“Tell me about it. What is the significance of the rain in the scene you mentioned?”

With real passion, he begins to describe how romantic the scene is, how it shows a rebirth of emotion, a washing a way of misunderstanding. I smile. He’s going to be a good man, I think. He may be embarrassed to be this vulnerable in front of all these other kids, but he is willing to put it out there and to connect. I admire his parents. They’ve taught him the basis of something that many men do not know… how to be a complete human.

Before I crack into this rant, I will state that my assessment is logically flawed. I know I’ve made a sweeping generalization. Kind, intelligent, courageous men do exist in the world, those who respect balanced women. They understand their inner selves in an intimate way. But they are not plentiful, in my opinion. And they populate my world like Saguaro of the high desert. . . tall, proud sentinels filled with promise for a traveler scoured by scrub and sand. Their shadows, dark and cool on a stark dry landscape.

And honestly, I’ll admit a recent bend toward cynicism, finding a dark irony that has squelched my perpetual Pollyanna attitude toward post divorce connection. But after online forays into the dark waters of dating and random encounters with the opposite species at watering holes and in other natural habitats, I’ve concluded that the vast social inequity between the sexes is much worse than I had previously believed. In fact, it is a mass hypnosis that needs a Universal thunderclap to wake the crowd.

Sunday, when I was driving home from an Irish session at Albemarle Ciderworks, an acquaintance of mine passed me in his sports car. All flashing sunglasses, his braceleted hand was poised in the window jamb; a girl sat co-pilot in the passenger seat. Without full knowledge of the details of our acquaintance, my view here might seem petty and selfish to some. But he represents a type of man that I have come to loathe and of which I have had quite enough. This small seemingly unimportant incident was the final card that crashed my house of faith in men. He is supposedly broken up about a recently ended relationship; his habit, though, is to hide any evidence of romantic attachment, serious or otherwise while it is occurring from the public, especially other women. I once ran into him at an event, quite by surprise, and he texted me within five minutes that “he was on a date…but not that kind of date”. One can see the picture here, I’m sure.

When he texted me later in the evening to say he had passed me on the highway, tried to get my attention and wished me good luck with school the next day, it sounded friendly enough. However, when I awoke at 3 am so angry that my stomach was in my throat, I realized something about this kind of man. It’s not that I want to be one of the “girls”. Believe me, I don’t. Our year long acquaintance revealed to me early on that he isn’t someone I’d ever trust in a pair bond. What makes me so angry is in a way. . . I want to be him. More specifically, wielding the power and control his type represents.

I want the ability to snap my fingers and have any number of beautiful young companions to keep me company at a winery, a concert or a theater event or even a trip to Europe. I have to go places alone. He gets to go with whomever he chooses and pretend he’s alone. That makes me envious and angry and those sorts of negative emotions do me absolutely no good.

As a woman, I’m furious that I’m not socially allowed to cultivate a string of beautiful young men, all clamoring to be with me, adoring me, trumpeting my wisdom to the world when all the while I’m selfish, petty, and juvenile. Maybe I am selfish, petty, and juvenile, but I don’t really know or care at this moment. I’m a human woman with a connection deficit and I’m sick of walking past local restaurants I frequent while he’s there drinking wine with a different girl every other afternoon. I tire of his ability to be so seemingly glamorous, so impeccably dressed and coiffed, almost too cool to even sweat. As his “friend”, I’m tired of his droppings, his toss off texts that pretend to care about my life when clearly a physical presence on a regular basis is required for genuine friendship. I’m not even talking about a possible romantic relationship; simple friendship is where human connection begins. I am starting to hate men because of him, because of the type of man he represents and I don’t need to develop that kind of callousness.

I don’t need a reminder of what being shallow and play acting at depth can get a man…everything. It isn’t fair, but there is seemingly nothing I can do about it.

To hold women at arm’s length, to dribble texts like bait and pretend to be interested in them without actually spending any time or effort or making personal investment in them and to play passive aggressive juvenile social media games to sustain this type of relationship is about control and power. It’s mean, cocky, and spiteful. It’s a form of emotional abuse. I don’t accept this treatment and other women shouldn’t either. Kind humans make consistent time for one another if they want to sustain a connection. Or they are kind enough to leave a person be. But to tell the truth, I haven’t run into many men who are also kind humans. As a matter of fact, I can name on two hands the men I have met in the last two years that qualify as human beings, most all are married.

I have to let go of the anger, and remember my worth. I need to remember what Grandaddy taught me: I am enough. . . irrespective of male affirmation. As a single woman in mid-life, though, I’m tired of men’s pity. I’m tired of taking handouts. I’m tired of letting assholes inform my sense of self worth and personal authority. It’s time for me to be the director of the connections made with men in my life. I will not defer to a man any longer. If a man has an issue with me being the initiator or the one who has enough courage to be vulnerable then so be it. I’m not some pathetic cougar bar fly in search of my youth.

I am wise.

I am beautiful.

I am smart.

I am strong.

I don’t have time to wait on emotionally handicapped, puerile, vacuous, weak willed men who will judge me for the functionality of my womb or the size of my breasts or the failed relationships I’ve had because it took me this long to realize how awesome I really am. Because if I have to hear just one more time as I walk in to a coffee shop or a grocery store or a restaurant bar

I love a redhead

or any other flattery as they smile and then walk away without even attempting to ask if maybe they might join my hair and the rest of me for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or a chat about a really great book or poem I might implode.

Bring it or get out of my way. Man up for Christ’s sake.

I refuse to play games. I refuse to pretend to be less to make you feel more. I refuse to pad another ego or organize and motivate a lazy jerk who knows if he drags his feet long enough I’ll be the mule and do the work.

No, not again.

Not ever.

Never.

Begging is for those with an empty treasure chest of a Self.

I’ve contemplated for too long why smart beautiful women seem to get nothing and smart beautiful men have it all. I’ve wondered for too long why I have to follow in the dance, on the street, at work, in life. I’m done with the social construct that says I must compete with younger women for a man of any age. They can’t hold a candle to my wisdom and I work hard and am fitter than most of them. While hiking in Yosemite, I met an 85 year old lady who is raising her 15 year old great grand daughter. So, if I want a baby at 50 or older, I’ll have the brains, the energy, and the money to care for one. A man who can’t let go of his genetics for a quality partner is on an epic ego trip.

Therefore, I’m ready to act. To creatively address this inequity in ways that might raise a few eyebrows or incur some harsh judgments. But I don’t care. If it’s at peace with my core, I’ll do it. For that is the only conscience to which I need to be reconciled. Should’s and shouldn’ts have no power over me any longer. That is the very definition of courage. This isn’t a dating thing or a sexual thing…it’s a human thing. And that’s what I haven’t gotten much of from the world of men. . .anything human.

Dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Robert Clarence Beard on his 105th birthday (8-18-1908). He taught me my worth. It is my job to remember it.

Emerald Bay

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