Men and Women: Another Difference

I deserve flak from my female cohorts. As a young adult, I never got the I-AM-WOMAN-HEAR-ME-ROAR hullabaloo. Why Oprah and devotees, TV shows, and pop culture rattled on about the woman with all the balls up in the air, exhausted in the attempt to satisfy diverse roles. Then I got married.

And became a mother.

The breadth of the tasks in my day-to-day, not to mention the depth, is such that I actually forget a lot of what I do. It is a great much, the littlest things one tends to as a mom.

I tore out a page of our calendar for you. I usually do more lessons, and doctor visits obviously are not a regular affair. But this day was typical in the way it packed one activity right into the next:

Breakfast
Dental checkup 45 minutes away
Lunch
Groceries
Brief playdate
Return: traffic
Martial arts
Math lesson
Dinner
DisHeS
Laundry
Prep for husband’s lunch next day

It was 6:40 when I was able to sit. Come to the computer and catch my breath – for eight minutes before showering Tennyson and tucking him in. In the past, I’ve gone on to cook two, three meals ahead for the little Foodie, find my way to the end of the dish pile, and clean the kitchen. This year, I’ve let myself write.

So I give you a glimpse of my week to share a rendition of a pretty amazing show we have going in our home.

LoungeOne day I walked into the master where I found Husband pacing. Out streamed from his mouth an uncharacteristically impressive list of To-Dos he had drawn up for the day. “…and I have to do oil change and detail the car and replace the tires pick up the timbau from Riverside mow the lawn get ready for Samba…”

*Pause*
*Slow exhale*

“I think….I’ll naaap.”

And he sank himself into the lounger with the grace of a deflating hot air balloon on landing.

Once I had picked my jaw up off the floor and my bug eyes had resumed their Asian size, I kicked him out, his laughter trailing him. The thing is, he’d meant it. The man really was going to take a siesta. It wasn’t just at my stunned bafflement but for the delight in the sweet change of plans that he’d crowed. It is beyond me. My husband is beyond me. Men are beyond me. If mothers so casually replaced obligations with sleep or every impulse, the human race would go extinct.

Money in My House

Math lesson: “Mom’s money is Mom’s money and Daddy’s money is Mom’s money.”

=======

Boy: Counting, recounting the money he earned folding laundry this month. Saving for a tablet. “$7.50. I have a long way to go to get to $200.”

Mom bites lip, looks up at ceiling. He doesn’t know she borrowed the $120 he made as a child study in a psychology program (last year).

=======

Tonight

Daddy: “Daddy’s sad because he lost his wallet.”
Boy: “Oh, that means will be poor now.”

They Went On Dating Him After He Raped Them

Jody was new to town and after being introduced to Jeff, agreed to hang out. Over her glass of beer, she wondered, “Now, how am I going to tell him I’m a lesbian?” He said he was cool with it. She made it clear this wasn’t a date. At one point in the drinking marathon, she spotted white granules at the bottom of her shot before everything went dark. The taxi driver reported seeing Jeff half-drag Jody up to his condo. She woke up with her clothes rearranged, knowing she’d had sex. She did a few things the scores of other women had not. Jody went straight to the hospital, procured a rape kit, and spoke with the police. And she didn’t stay Jeff’s friend.

He said he was a surgeon, astronaut, and CIA agent. His Match.com profile showed him in scrubs as well as an astronaut’s suit, and he flashed a badge on dates. In reality Jeff Marsalis was a nursing school drop-out, now known as the “worst date rapist in the nation’s history.” He went on to earn an impressive string of rape accusations, twenty-one in the Philadelphia area over incidents that occurred between 2001 and 2005. Two weeks before the second trial that would acquit him in that city, Jody pursued her case in Idaho.

Like her, the other women found him a gentleman in the morning when they came to. A few vaguely recalled the terror and panic, feeling him on them. But he seemed very caring, sent flowers to some in the coming week. Jeff convinced them through the confusion that everything was fine. Many of them told ABC News that “they wanted to convince themselves of that” and continued seeing him. I didn’t “want to be traumatized by this,” said one, “…thinking oh, he’s a doctor…trying to rationalize this.”

Help me out here.

I don’t quite think we can cast a blanket judgment that these women were stupid. Not only was Marsalis a skillful con artist but the women were intelligent working professionals. Curiously, the fact that they didn’t come across as bimbos made the jury question their testimonies in the first two trials. They were calm, didn’t cry. They had to be lying. And as sensitive as we women are, we know when something’s not right – especially with our body. The sheer number of victims also raises the interesting question on the psychology of guilt. An obligation is often a weight of guilt and in answering it, we allow someone else’s desire to overrule ours. Keep it up and your load ends up even heavier with resentment as your own prerogatives lose ground. Why are men less susceptible to the surrender of their boundaries and self-reproach in the face of their own inclinations? I’m not speaking in iron categories, saying all men are immune to people-pleasing. My guess is how we women tend to define ourselves by and draw our sense of worth from relationships more than men do. Because I don’t feel I quite fit the mold in this regard, I am confounded by the behavior of these women who swallowed the fear, suspicion, indignation, and shame, choosing instead to believe a fairy tale that the sweet-talking, smart, handsome doctor really liked or loved them and they would somehow ride into the happily ever after with him. Yes, the human condition tempts us to believe what we want to believe. We fear the truth. But why are women, over against our sixth sense, more likely to doubt our own perception and mistrust our ability to assess situations? Why more likely to blame ourself, as several of the victims later shared they did?

The defense attorney suggested that Jody was so drunk she didn’t remember wanting to have sex. But she wasn’t even conscious. “The defendant is accused of having sexual intercourse with a female who was unconscious due to an intoxicating substance,” the Idaho prosecutor said in court. “That is not consensual sex, it’s rape.” Not to mention that Jody would not have consented because she was gay.

After three-and-a-half long years, Jody and all the other victims could recover a measure of peace. Marsalis was sentenced to life, finally found guilty of rape.

I May Be a Man, Part 2

I know why the Serpent went to Eve first. She had thought God was speaking her language. “Don’t do it.” We’ll talk some more, she thought. If Adam had stayed single the poor, simple man would’ve just listened to His Maker. The Serpent knew he could bring the world crashing down on its head if he could tickle Eve to analyze what God’s word had really meant and why He had said it.

I’m just glad God is a man.

Speaking of guilt, our new miniseries is right around the corner.

Dance and Marriage: Metaphors

Dance. Marriage. They serve each other as metaphors.

The Story in the Dance
Part of the charm swing dancing held for me in my early California days was its expression of manhood and womanhood. I noticed right away that it anchored men in their responsibility
1) to initiate the relationship (from the sweet, genteel May I have this dance? still extant in ballrooms) 2) to lead his partner gently through to the end.

I could slide out to the floor knowing virtually nothing of the steps the song calls for, but ended up looking like a queen when I allowed myself to lean into the cues of my skillful partner. When I relaxed under his control, the dance turned out smooth, fun, elegant. He turned my wrist, knowing where he wanted to take me in the next part of the song, and my feet somehow followed. In strong, watchful arms, I even did aerials. I flew. When he was insensitive, busy enjoying himself; or plain clumsy, I got injured. On my part, I could usually attempt only moves my partner knew. No matter that I had just learned some cool steps in a class if he didn’t allow me to showcase them. The night I met my husband, he made room in the dance for me to spin and sashay hips in a way not usually done in Swing, blending my elaboration into his choreography. The times I tensed with other men, especially in the exasperated judgment that they didn’t know what they were doing, we went out of sync and lost cadence and harmony. Which meant that oddly, yes, when I swallowed the impatience and went along with the artless motions of a dud of a dancer, we actually ended up looking pretty okay as a couple. He could take lessons, and come back new and improved. But as long as he was a botch-up all I could do to salvage us in that dance was to go along.

The Story in the Marriage
The longer you stay married, the more you experience the ways you can keep in step with one another and enjoy the music or slip into a dysfunctional waltz where you keep tripping your partner: pull or push too hard, lead without seeing the other, or refuse to follow in trust. It really is a holistic journey, so simple we miss it. All a dance is, is a pattern. The Lindy, 123 and 4, 567 and 8. Repeat. It is math in music. A healthy relationship builds on a pattern of ingenuous courtesy. You keep in tune to each other’s wishes.

The video was taken at our wedding reception which we held at the ballroom where we had met. We couldn’t run for you the original music from the reception for copyright issues, nor could we shorten it readily so if you don’t have two minutes, please don’t bother seeing it through.

I’m clearly no dancer. Peter is a different story. It was his impromptu idea at the wedding celebration that we enact how he’d approached me that fateful night we danced as strangers. So I stood again on the very spot where he’d first asked me

to dance.

Postscript
I just realized it was today in May, nine years ago, that we met.  Happy Anniversary, Honey. Sorry I kept talking about dancing with other guys.