Men. Just saying the word can send many women into a tizzy. It’s often said in disgust, derision or utter frustration. But not when I say it. I say “men” with love and huge, heaping helpings of admiration. And often a bit of drool. I LOVE men! Adore them, really. The tall ones, short ones, creaky, cranky old crotchety ones, suave, smooth talkers, the good ones, the bad ones, the ugly ones, gay, straight, questioning, fat, skinny, nicely muscled. It matters not to me; I love them all. Truly. You will never hear me make derisive comments about “men”, tear any man down for the crime of being born in a male body (actually, you’ll probably never hear me tear anyone down for any reason, but I digress), laugh at jokes about “how men are”. Nope. Not even once. Sexism stinks no matter who the focus. If it would hurt to hear someone talk about you like you aren’t a person with feelings just because you’re female then don’t offer the same to men. Period. End of story. Besides, men are really wonderful to have around.
I can find something adorable about any man. Yes, you read that right – ANY man. Does it mean I personally like every man I come across? Um, I’m still human (I think, unless I recently turned in my human card unawares) and some people just don’t mesh, so no, I don’t like every man I meet any more than I like every woman I meet. And my heart belongs to one man at a time, thankyouverymuch. Just. One. No exceptions. I neither share nor wish to be shared. Still, it has no bearing on the fact that I find men beautiful, wonderful, adorable creatures. And I say creatures not as a put down; I’d just as quickly say the same of myself. I am a child of this Earth and as such am a creature like any other life form. Again, I digress. I find men so fascinating that it’s easy for me to like them. Just on g.p. I am not a man and don’t want to be. You really couldn’t pay me enough to give up being a woman, not even for thirty seconds. Too many dang juicy perks – men being chief among them! But I really do believe if we quit making men our favorite whipping boys and took the time to get to know them and genuinely like them a lot of our “issues” would disappear. It’s hard to truly love someone you’re secretly (or not so secretly) perpetually pissed at. If it’s something they did and can be repaired, no problem. But if it’s some scary, sneaky, socially accepted and sanctioned prejudice based on who and what they are that really can’t be changed (and neither you nor they are certain they’d change it even if they could) then Houston, we have a problem.
What’s the problem? For one thing, many of us are constantly going on about how we wish we had a man. While that’s a perfectly wonderful desire, the likelihood of that happening soon or in a way we would prefer are not too good if you consider the internal discord happening. On the one hand: “I want a man!” On the other: “Men are cheats/pigs/liars/only after one thing!” (as if we were sitting here in chastity belts with our legs tightly crossed for extra measure against entry.) I don’t know about you, but if someone were harboring those kinds of thoughts about me just because of my sex I’d be quite the wary traveler feeling (rightly) that I’m in enemy territory. It doesn’t take an accountant to figure out you have little chance of winning and every chance of getting yourself blown to bits by very cleverly disguised mines with that kind of vibe floating around. But, brave little sweethearts that they are, they continue to take their chances time and time again. The payoff is too fantastic to give up on, though sadly some men do. And, fairly, many of us do manage to get past our internal discord enough to finally manage to get that guy we wanted and get on with the business of being happy – or at least happy enough. Another issue is the perpetual pissed-offedness that internal discord creates.
When was the last time you encountered someone who seemed to forever have a chip on their shoulder? I haven’t in recent memory but certainly have had the displeasure of that experience; I can tell you it was no fun. I couldn’t WAIT to get away from that person! Way back in the day among the litter of “my first jobs” I worked at one of the precursors to the big box hardware store, a place called Rickel’s. I have no idea if they’re still in business. It was a NY/NJ dealio and I haven’t lived in that part of the forest in a few decades. Anyway, a woman, her husband and son walk up to my cash register. If “pissy” had a smell she would’ve knocked everyone in the store out, been declared a national safety hazard and carted off in a hazardous waste container by Special Forces in hazmat suits. Talk about WMD! Girlfriend was a one woman evil squad! I asked if the few items she had was all she needed. “SNARK SNARK!” came the pissy reply. Her husband and son inched back a little. A bit startled, but determined to keep my cheerful demeanor, I asked Ms. P if she would like a bag. “Why? Don’t you give BAGS in this store?” By this point I was beginning to think there were a few things I’d like to give this particular bag but, hey! Meanwhile, husband and son inch further back, quietly. I begin to notice this interesting behavior. I’d keep tightly pleasant if not friendly. Ignore her nastiness and keep it moving, right? Oh, no! Not for M’am P! Even after I gave her a bag for her items she wasn’t content. I really think she was a very unhappy person as evidenced by her family’s behavior. They seemed to want to get as far away from her as they possibly could, hopefully long before anyone could notice they were accompanying Ms. P. I’m thinking plausible deniability here: “If they don’t see us with her, then they can’t say anything to us and we won’t have to make excuses or be embarrassed any more than we already are.” Finally, after attempting to pleasantly see Ms. P to the door she said something and I blew. I’ve been told I’m pretty scary when I get angry. I don’t do it often. That day, Ms. P met her match and I ripped her up one side and down the other. She tried the “call the manager” move but I had witnesses (both employees and regular shocked customers) and I had already beat her to the punch. Ms. P and her much embarrassed family were shown the door for harassing the employees. Turns out she’d been a stinker in the rest of the store as well.
The point of this story? Certainly not to show off my badassery. Think of a lifetime’s worth of Ms. P contained and only leaking and lashing out periodically at a guy. Just because he’s a guy and didn’t know the class bully back in sixth grade tripped you and made you ruin the project you’d been working on for the last month, your first love turned out to be the epitome of an idiot who stood you up on your birthday and your dweebasaur uncle totally demeaned your spiffy new outfit by calling you out of name at the family holiday party. Um, sorry but that’s not his dealio. Really. And he’s not any of those other people. He shouldn’t be put on trial just because he’s the next available male. You can certainly teach him to treat you like those horrible men from your past. Just treat yourself the way you did then and he’ll either pick up what his part should be or he’ll get tired and leave. Or you could try something different.
Try something like what, you ask? Wait for it…. Here it comes: surrender and vulnerability! Ha! Just had to get those in! <lol> Though in truth I suppose what I propose is in a sense vulnerability and surrender. So what is this wonder process? You could try finding something cute and adorable about every man you see. Every single one. Yes, even the stinky guy who’s always leaning over your desk at work trying to talk to you about every insignificant thing in the book right when you have a major deadline, the grumpy old man who always glares at you in the grocery store, the dismissive too-high-ranking-to-notice-lowly-you guy who never holds the elevator for you even when you’re three steps away from him struggling with your groceries, your dog and your keys. Yeah, I know that’s a hard order, but give it a try. Find something cute BEFORE you run into these difficult characters so you have it ready when you need it. And practice seeing men. Really SEEING them. If it helps, pretend you’re from another planet, you’ve just discovered this place full of fascinating creatures and you want to study them and really understand them. While you walk down the street find something adorable about every man you see. No, you don’t have to tell him, just acknowledge it to yourself and allow yourself to feel the genuine appreciation. Even if all you come up with is “Wow! How cool is it he managed to live to such an advanced age?” Or if he happens to be differently abled try appreciating him for the inspiration he provides to never, ever give up in spite of what else is going on (that is if you really can’t think of anything else; I’ve had quite a bit of fun both flirting with and appreciating differently abled men. Trust me, they can be just as much fun if not more so than able bodied men. Ask me about the yummy deaf guy some time. Oh, the things that can be said with body language and a smile. And by the way: pity sucks so just don’t go there. Ever. MAJOR turn off city!)
Another thing to do? SMILE! I notice so many people walking around with pinchy faces these days. It’s gotten to where what I call the “do me” face is on every model on and in damn near every magazine. Nobody seems to smile anymore. When did smiling go out of fashion? Talk about a rare commodity! It really doesn’t have to be. Sure, the “do me” face is sexy but not when everybody’s wearing it all the time; besides, smiles are sexier. Nothing beats a genuine smile – especially since we don’t see them so often. And there are so many ways to play with that smile. Smile at guys when you pass them. Not like a creepazoid, but a brief, genuine “Hi!” happy smile. Let it reach your eyes or we’re back to grimacing which is only a step away from scowling. When you see a man and you’ve found something adorable about him, let the pleasure of that discovery light up your face (a.k.a. make you smile). If you happen to catch each other’s eye, then smile at him and mean it. Share the pleasure of the moment. But Stasi, isn’t that kind of FLIRTING??? Um, yeah it is. So? But Stasi, flirting is bad! Unless you intend to “take it somewhere” you’re just being a tease. Uh, not even!
I flirt all the time. When you were a kid you probably played with lots of people, with dogs, trees, even dust bunnies! Nobody told you it was bad to play (unless you had some seriously screwed up caretakers – but we’re not going there right now). And as you played did you have any kind of agenda? Probably not. I have many memories of playing happily for hours with other kids I never saw again. Did that dampen my enjoyment of the moment? Nope! I remember thinking as our folks rounded us up at the end of our session that it’d be fun to play together again some time, but not in the least upset because I thought it might not happen. Nor did it keep me from repeating the behavior next time. Most kids play because it’s fun and they enjoy it. By the time we get to be adults we’ve totally been sucked into the “everything we do has to have a purpose” trap. Flirting is simply appreciation play, enjoying yourself in the moment. You can flirt with anyone and anything, even trees and flowers (yes, I really do exactly that). Unless you want to “take it somewhere” then there’s no need to concern yourself about going there. A smile or even an appreciative word or two need never go beyond that. Is that still flirting? Sure. Is it fun? You bet! Are you giving mixed signals by doing it? Not unless either you’re confused, you want to or the recipient is a generally confused being. Believe me, most men aren’t the hopelessly clueless clods they’re regularly made out to be. So play away. Fully enjoy yourself and the men you come into contact with. Everyone will be happier for it, including you. It’s impossible to do so much genuine appreciating and not have the good feelings rub off on you.
And by the way, men are after only one thing – the same thing everybody’s after: love and acceptance. Oops! Sorry! That’s two things.