This past Saturday, I went to Underground, the largest live art show in the Metroplex. I volunteered to work the door and stay after and clean up the space. In mentioning this, I’m not trying to talk about my boundless philanthropy or selfless, supporting nature or anything. I’m just trying to tell you guys a story. Honest.
So, I’ve walked around, and I’ve looked at everything there, but there’s still a bit of time before my shift, so I go to get a beer. The bartender and I get to talking over my tasty stout, when he mentions his girlfriend (subtle, no?), and how it’s been ten years since he had a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.
“Whhhhere you guys gunna go?” I slur. Luckily, he’s a bartender, so he’s gotten used to pretending to ignore such things. “Well, she said not to make a big fuss, so nothing.” Wait, what?
This man is on the verge of relationship suicide. I must intervene. I must save him. Trying to forget the beer, I roll into action. I explain that, though his girl told him she didn’t want a fuss and any of that highly commercial and sappy Valentine’s Day romantic crap, she really does. “She’s just being polite, because she doesn’t want you to think she’s that girl. You know, that girl,” I say, making what I’m sure is a very cool and sophisticated hand/arm gesture. “Listen, don’t listen to what she said. I mean, about that. Listen to me. Okay. YOU. Need to take that girl someplace nice. Okay? Take her out. Now.”
I’ve never understood how guys don’t get this. We might say we don’t want you to make a fuss, but we really do. We want to know that you care, and we want you to show it in the goofiest and most embarrassing way possible. To women, that kind of cringe-worthy, mushy gesture is indicative of true affection. Don’t tell us you like us. Show us.
But then it occurred to me that maybe men don’t understand these things because they’ve never had to work with the same rules. Women are taught to deny their wants and needs, sometimes publicly, so people think us polite and demure. You might want that last cookie, but you decline because it’s the polite thing to do. This is also essential if you don’t want others to see you as that girl. You know who I’m talking about. The high-maintenance chick all the guys complain about. The bougie, not-quite-gold-digging princess you see in all the movies. That girl.
Men are given something very different. Men are taught that if you want something, you need to stand up and ask for it, and if someone offers you something, you take it, no questions asked. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want it or need it. Just take it, and you can sort all that other stuff out later. (And, men, don’t think because I’ve glossed over this that I condone your behavior. This is pretty fucked up, too.)
Women who live declining life naturally (naturally!) expect fellow-sufferers will get it. Like as not, all women understand this behavior, because they’ve heard it before. Men, or most men, anyway, do not, because no one’s ever taught them that. They haven’t had to think that way.