A during-commercial-break conversation about an irritating chickey-type female of our common acquaintance.
Me: She’s one of those women who just are like that, you know?
Mr.Everyday: All women are like that.
Me: *raising eyebrow*
Mr.Everyday: *in his usual failed save manner* What? Look at it objectively. Don’t just react because you’re a woman! You’re a writer, after all.
Me: I write about women and relationships, babe.
Phil Collins tells me that,
A friend’s mother imparts the following wisdom on men and marriage,
“Don’t expect any kind of sense for about 3 years. After that they kind of settle down.”
PATIENCE is a virtue, apparently a prized one for a woman. Me? I never met a man who didn’t make me, within hours, want to bang my head on the wall. Irrespective of how much I liked him. I think men are like that. Born to annoy.
How does thou annoy me? Let’s count. (In no particular order of priority, they’re all equally irksome)
- Juvenile jokes (toilet humour, anyone?)
- Bad taste in clothes, furniture, colors, everything!
- Complete cluelessness about the concept of ‘Conversation’
- Hormone surges (okay, cross that, it isn’t always a problem)
- EEEEEEGO (with a huge, big, monstrous, mammoth of an E)
- Mixed-up priorities (“Let’s go watch the match now!”, “Why do you need to shop again?”)
- The gall to comment on my taste (“Haha, your brown lipstick looks like you’ve eaten mud!”)
Phewwww..*Deeeeep breath* I think I’m forgetting. I’ve never been high on patience anyway. Some day, some day, some day I’ll learn to tolerate a man being a man. And not keep looking into those starry-eyes and asking,
“Okay, have we grown-up as yet?”
I actually wrote this post five months ago. But instead I published this one, in its place. I guess this post felt too raw, too out-there and (fine, I admit!) I was a tad superstitious about sounding too smug-happy. I feel a lot more confident about bringing this out so here it is for your (repetitive) reading pleasure!
Okay, I’m back. Call off the search team, please. The flashlights are making me see spots in the darkness. And meh, I wanted to slink back in without anyone noticing.
A combination of sulkiness, bad moods and blogger’s block assailed me. Of course, this blog has seen its share of my blogicidal tendencies. This time, I thought I really and truly had said everything I could possibly say. After all, beyond gender stereotypes, feminism, male-bashing, dating advice, battle of the sexes and single girl rants, what else can I possibly XX Factor?
A relationship, that’s what, came the answer. To my chagrin, I found I never wrote when I was truly, bursting-with-it happy and when was the last time I felt that way? Angst has fueled much of my creative output and in the absence of it, I feel no words knocking about in my head, bumping into my eyelids, threatening to go pouring out of my mouth and my fingers.
So fine, I’ve gone from being single gal to coupled-up, I’ve moved on from angsty-angry to wholesome-happy. But I’m still a woman. There has got to be more to it than explaining the paucity of the opposite sex.
*Sigh* It’s been so long since I’ve done this, I’ve forgotten. There are things that you never really forget, like cycling and swimming and turning your eyelids inside out and being grossed out when other people do this. Let me tell you, being in a relationship is not one of those things.
I think dating should be discarded as a means to and a predecessor to relationships, seeing how it seems to have no connection whatsoever with the latter. How many people that you dated did you actually end up having a solid relationship with? I mean the kind where you genuinely care what they feel, their opinion matters to you, you stand by them (and they by you)? What’s all that to do with people with whom you share entertainment and fancy meals with, people who add to your social quotient and you to theirs by being seen in public together? Anyway, I anticipate that the next question will be “How else do you find someone to be with then?” and I have no answer to that so I’ll drop this thread of thought.
It seemed so easy, so effortless. A conversation between two people ending in ‘Yes’. But in the days to come, that one word has loomed bigger and larger and infiltrated into every aspect of life.
Suddenly I’m spending way longer with and in his absence, thinking about one person. I still adore my friends and the vast social circle I’ve collected in all these years. But days and weeks have mysteriously slipped by and I’ve come back to a bunch of mystified people who’re out with flashlights and search dogs with a warrant for my kidnapper’s arrest. But this is okay. My wonderfully understanding friends assure me that they’re happy for me and wave away my apologies for never understanding when they did the same thing.
I spent an hour trying on and changing various outfits last evening, all in preparation of a mid-week date. Not that he notices and strangely enough that doesn’t bother me as much. I’ve dressed well for a good while now but it’s always been what I feel like wearing, colour, fabric, design, cut etc. But this time I’m thinking….we might take a walk on the beach, better not to wear the nice sandals. My favorite Batman-patterened-WonderWoman style bracelet is still much loved but its sharp edges will probably dig into his wrist when we hold hands.
In the morning, I was looking through some Facebook albums and chanced upon the picture of someone I had gone out with, awhile ago. I immediately tweeted,
“Cute & friendly exes are like delicious street food. Always tempting but then you think of your last encounter & thats the end of it.”
I managed to be late for the date in the evening and after a slightly stiff reception, the ice was broken with a reference to my tweet. I started, having completely forgotten about that. Then that telling glint of mischief crept into his eyes and I knew he was having a good laugh at how I was squirming. I knew he wasn’t going to go Jealous Guy on me and yet, I squirmed. It was odd.
We have great conversations and greater ones, too. Of course we were friends before we decided to be a couple. And the conversations continue. Now and then, I let slip one of my characteristic male-bashing or OTT funny-shocking statements (“In the year 2050, men will be illegally bred as pets for connoisseurs, the bulk of them being grown in laboratories for fertilization purposes.”). It used to be my thing. Drama, shock-value, yes I’m inadvertently (well, not entirely) funny. But I say these now and suddenly I stop and think, “Ohmigosh, I’m supposed to be a girlfriend now. Are girlfriends supposed to say these things to their boyfriends?” Squirm again.
And then there’s the whole awkwardness about the past. This has been strangely enlightening and also I discovered, goes both ways. It’s not the fact that I have a past that embarrasses me, it’s the amount of drama in it. Think how that would sound to Mr.Understated Silent, Solid Type. But then I mention a song of his that I came across and he says uneasily, “Yeah….I was….going through a phase back then.” Heh, there’s some consolation in that.
The friends have yet to be met, his and mine and I know from experience (zzzzing, I did it again!), that is another major bridge to be crossed. The urban family is just as much of a big deal as the joint family, never mind what he says about everyone doing their own thing. Well, one learns, one lives. Love is a complicated thing but at least you get to go at it with a partner.
There’ll be more on this. Single or otherwise, I’m still me and I have a feeling I’ve just stepped into an alternate universe. I’ll keep y’all posted on the sights.
Like every good Mumbaiker, I would spend about an hour and half commuting to work each morning. Once I got in, I’d perch on my chair, waiting for my colleague to arrive. She’d walk in about 10 minutes later, switch on her computer, rearrange her desk and give me a little nod in the direction of the door. And we’d get up in unison and leave.
I’ve heard about this from several amused (and puzzled) men. We call it ‘The Loo Community’. The question is,
Why do women go to the loo in groups?
I suspect the real question is,
“What on earth do they do in there???!!!”
It is a good question.
So what do we do when we ‘go’ in groups? Well….we talk. We giggle. We compare notes on men (boss, colleague, client, boyfriend, husband, friend). The sneaky suspicion men have, that women are having a good laugh at their expense in the loo, is correct. The washroom is a great place for female bonding. After all, that really is the only place the men can’t interrupt our thoughts or conversations. (Down with the unisex!!)
Frantic damage control can be administered and strategies discussed. Ever heard of the following? If it’s familiar, you’re probably female.
“I got an oil stain on my dress!!!”
“Here….use some talcum powder on it! It’s great for matting away all kinds of oils – facial or vegetable!”
And there are questions of earth-shattering importance which need privacy and seclusion to be dissected and pondered over. Such as…
“What if he calls here and wants to talk?”
“Say “Oops, I hear my boss calling!” and hang up!”
Sample the following titbits from real lootime conversations:
I tried some crunches yesterday & got a cramp. I hate these damn tyres!
Hee hee…bet he loves those love-handles though!
Yes well, and we play the fool sometimes too. One time we went out for a drink, the women went to the washroom together (of course!). There we discussed who was drinking what, who was sloshed, who could be lulled into saying something interesting in the present state of drunkeness. We giggled over some of the things the men were saying. Then we looked at the mirror together and appraised ourselves. One of them said
“Security guard is a bloody letcher…did you notice?”
I put in,
“Bully for him, there’s a bevy of beauties passing by after all.”
Rightttttt… she retorted,
“We look more like Charlie’s angels!!”
A minute later a sturdy matron in a grey salwar-kameez walked in on the three ‘beauties’ posing like Charlie’s angels and trying to photograph the mirror (without the camera showing).
Though coming back to the point, this loo community is really obvious at work. All the guys smoke and there’s tremendous bonding happening over a shared cigarette. Strangers walk by and ask my male colleagues if they could share a light and then chat like they’ve been friends for years. My cubicle neighbor (who is male and smokes) has the in on the office gossip practically seconds after it happens. When he gleefully accounts something that he’s apparently known for ages and ages and I ask him how he knows, the answer always lies in smoketime conversations. A few of the women smoke but somehow they are never included in this camaraderie.
But I don’t worry. We have our own version of the office grapevine. I’ve managed to get to know most women in the office, across floors and departments simply because we share the bathroom mirror in the mornings. Great friendships are born from that small-but-useful tip over how to get rid of pimples. Intellectual conversations start from a discussion on the best way to hide a hickey (horrors!…giggle giggle). An unexpected ally may be made from that emergency safety-pin passed over the toilet stall wall.
Female-bonding is a good way to start and end the day.
There’s all this talk about ‘boys and their toys’. But you know, we girls loved our childhood companions too. What’s more, in a typically female psycho-babble-loving way, we see patterns in our toy mania. Maybe we’re back in the playground, but with a heart instead of a doll and slightly bigger boys this time. If our relationships are a reflection of the games we’re used to playing, maybe the people we date, are images of our favorite toys. Who then are we, by the toys we play with?
Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!
Some little girls play with plastic dolls. Some of them grow up and play with plastic cards and the styrofoam men who own them. Sugar daddies abound for the PYTs (Pretty Young Things) who never got over their addiction to plastic. These are the women for whom life in La-la-Land is just fiddle-dee-dee, isn’t it darling?
Touch ME not, touch MINE not!
How about those annoying, prissy kids that mum was always wishing we would become? The one who always put his toys away in order, the one whose dolls were always nicely dressed and neatly arranged. You hated her didn’t you? I did too. Especially since she wouldn’t let me get my grubby fingers anywhere near her precious beauties. Come to think of it, she didn’t do much more than stare at them in her perfect dollcase either. She had a fairytale marriage, complete with Snow White style wedding gown to Mr.Ken doll. Presumably she and her darling boy toy do nothing more than look at each other in absolute adoration and live happily ever after.
My lovely monster, my cuddly creepy-crawly
I was delighted to find a series of monster-doll stuffed toys and started a collection. Besides a stuffed Hunchback of Notre-Dame, I also collected a green Frankenstein, a lady-bird sandbag, an outrageously plumed rooster, a green dinosaur with red spikes and an owl with a graduation hat. My favorite doll (that I still have) had an unruly lock of hair carved into the top of its head and all otherwise, it was bald. Ergo, my tastes run to imperfect objects …and flawed men.
I want the one she wants!
Then there’s the girl who seems to want just the guys you want. He’s ‘just someone’ until he becomes SOMEONE to you. Then he’s the one she’ll want. She would be the kid who always wants the toy that the other kid has.
Everyone knows the kid who always wants the biggest, prettiest, bestest toy that there is. This isn’t greed, it’s ambition. They usually get them, don’t they or they just won’t play with anyone or anything else. We are in the age of a woman getting anything and everything she wants, after all. This is the woman who’ll turn her nose at the plebs and hold out for the trophiest of trophies only.
I remember one weird childhood conversation. Comparing notes like all little girls besotted with an abnormally shaped piece of plastic called Barbie, I asked the girl who sat next to me in class,
“I’m making a new dress for my doll. Do you have a Barbie?”
She sniffed and replied,
“Only three! But my mama won’t get me more!!!!!!!”
Of course that was the ‘I have more than you!’ kid. Know someone who is the female equivalent of a bed-post notcher? Bingo. She grew up and collected boyfriends instead.
Among other things, I’ve been discovering the joys of vanity since I quit my job and have had a lot more time to myself. It’s quite wonderful, caring for oneself and looking good-feeling good. Mr.Everyday, on the other hand, is determined to win the title for ‘Most Likely to Be Mistaken For Shrek‘. It’s not that he’s bad-looking…duh, not at all! But his persistant efforts just might win him that crown. The faded-to-unrecognizable-colour tee-shirts, the facial hair that if it were modern art would be titled Scotchbrite Tarzan, the chappals (chosen over a clean pair of sneakers and brand-new floaters)….yes, this has to take some serious effort.
So last night we had another one of our ‘talks’, which is just politespeak for ‘I rant on and on while he fiddles with the new PS2’.
Me: Please, please, please get a shave!
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Me: Please, please, PLEASE!!!
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Me: Listen, you know what you look like, right? Huh? Huh? Are you even listening to me?
Me: God, just get it, won’t you?!
The Boy: *Muffled yell*
Me: *Happy he’s finally gotten it*
Me: *Realization that he’s whooping over a PS2 win*
Me: Listen, you look really good with that French beard thing. Why don’t you get a trim now?
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Me: It’s been over a month since you got it and it’s growing out like weeds! What do you have against a trim where someone else does that for you?
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Mr.Everyday: I’ll think about it.
Me: One of these days I’ll find something to wear that you’ll absolutely hate! Then I’ll wear it everyday…for….for…a year!!
Mr.Everyday: You’ll always be beautiful to me, no matter what you wear.
Okay, if this were a comic strip, the last panel would have me shrugging my shoulders. Well, really, what is one supposed to say now? I know, I know, he’s thinking about it.
It’s hard being a woman. The whole multi-tasking thing is starting to fire on us in a beeg way and I have a sneaky suspicion that men are sniggering at us from behind their hands (or err, gadgets).
For starters there is the image of the modern, intelligent woman. Some slogging, plodding and hard work bring us the degrees and promotions. That ought to be enough to cement the image, right? Wrong! One must be a good conversationalist as well.
Now this being a good conversationalist business is tricky. What does it mean anyway? Be an entertainer? A good listener? A confident talker? A jocular being dropping witticisms with every eyelash flutter? And all of this while ensuring said eyelashes don’t drop into the food, lipstick doesn’t get onto teeth during self-induced laughing bouts and ‘statement jewellery’ doesn’t get entangled in the tablecloth, the waiter’s tie or the door. Flashes of skin must be accidental and with a large majority of us regular women are; only with us they take the form of embarassing wardrobe malfunctions and not the fantastical literary ‘accidental flash of skin’. Difficult indeed, being a woman.
Then there is pressure to be a good date. Yes, make no mistakes, women suffer performance anxiety too. Yes, I know there are enough of men who will turn somersaults on the tops of the incomplete Mumbai metroworks if they think they can ‘win’ the attention of a girl they find hot. But what after that? Even the most aesthetically sensitive man will tire of looking at a showpiece. Therein begins the pressure to be good-looking, well-groomed and smart.
This is particularly difficult for women like me who very reluctantly don the garb of chickdom. Dressing up nicely is about as far as we’re able to go. But after that, the same forceful opinions and loud declarations backfire. Well, they never really get us brownie points and in this case we go from being branded ‘rabid feminists’ to ‘arrogant bitches’. Whatever.
Okay, okay, time out. So how does one set aside all the high drama and clashes and conflicts? Dating must be fun too, right? Let’s see, what are the common points of interest?
Books are out for a large number of people, at least in this city. The ones who do claim to read are mostly doing it for the impression, but that’s for another rant. I set my cynicism aside and dived into a genre I thought sounded promising. Graphic Novels!
“Comics.” I am told curtly, a steely look coming into the hitherto worshipful eyes. From there it only goes downhill as I blab on a bit about Fables and Sandman before being run over by a barrage of Superman, Batman and other superhero trivia. I’m relieved I didn’t mention Spiderman (actually Spiderman Loves Mary Jane); he might have thrown something at me!
How about movies? We already know how that turns out. Television seems to offer a safer ground. Reality TV is what everyone claims to hate but secretly watches, one finger always on the remote, when they’re alone. Chicks lurrve Sex & The City, guys are maniacal about Star Wars (and sometimes FTV, or if they’ll admit it, regional channels after midnight). I am about to throw up my hands on yet another possibility when I quite inadvertently hit upon an answer.
“Sheldon Cooper. Amazing. Hmm.” I say, a dreamy look coming into my eyes. Of course that’s my weakness for condescending geekboys (cue Jupiter Jones).
“Sheldon Cooper. Indeed.” He agrees.
We look at each other over the glasses of rum (another thing we have in common..but more on that another time) and grin. And suddenly I know I’ve accidentally stumbled onto the common ground.
Why is this show so popular? Let’s see. It’s four superbrainy (and nerdy) geekboys who live next door to a dumb blonde. Well, not exactly. Only two of them actually live there, the others just keep lounging around. They sit around tossing phrases like ‘Doppler Effect’ and ‘Vector co-ordinates’ to each other, playing one-upmanship games of job importance and prowess with the ladies and slobber over the girl next door in her tiny shorts, who does *wonder of wonders* smile at them and even joins them for dinner sometimes. I can see why this appeals to the boys.
On the other hand, I don’t think Penny is actually dumb. She isn’t a brainiac like any of the boys but she’s sensible, funny, friendly and nice. Yes, she’s easy on the eyes (tele-symbolised by tiny clothes). But she doesn’t carry a diva attitude even with the salivating boys next door. What’s more, their boasting and intellectual showing-off rarely bothers her and more often than not, she’s the one who really gets what’s going on. A la ‘Boys. Will So Be Boys. Hmph‘. Heh, she’s already got our sympathies. But hang on, she doesn’t need that. That’s one girl surrounded by four guys, all smart, interested in her and willing to do everything from fix up her creaky door hinges to be guinea pigs for her cocktail waitressing. They hit on her (gently, geekboys are nice that way) but they’re nice to her. They even let themselves get roughoused by the bulldog boyfriend who hurt her. Okay, who’s the smart one now? That’s the girl we all want to be!
For all that it could seem to be about a semi sci-fi, fantasy geekboy story, The Big Bang Theory is the battle of the sexes at its finest. Four men and one woman and guess who is winning? That’s enough of ego massage for even the most rabid feminist side of me.
On that note, I’d like to thank the makers for bringing out a spectacular show and also facilitating enough of gender-common conversation for dates and more. It certainly started with a big bang!
The strange conversations with friends are alarming at first and then amusing. Picture this. A lazy Sunday, post-lunch langour, the blissfulness of knowing its icky-raining outside but you’re safe and dry indoors. The phone rings. The hand is reluctantly moved to hit the ‘answer’ button.
Hello? Yeah. Yeaaah. *Grin in my direction*. Haan. No, no. Yeah. Yeaaaah. Listen..oh, okay. Yeah. Yeaaaah. *One eye in my direction* Accha, sun. Haan. Yeaaaah. Okay, listen, I’m with IdeaSmith. Yeah. *Wide grin* Yeaaaah. Na, no problem. *Wider grin* Chalo, bye.
The grin is now self-satisfied. End of picture.
A fortnight ago, we wined and dined with E Vestigio. Drinking happened, talking happened, joking happened and funny things happened. E summoned me out seperately to tell me that yes indeed, she approved especially of that fact that ‘he’s not a fanboy’. Errrm, okay?! Later I excused myself and when I came back, both wore smug grins and were toasting each other and the League of Extraordinary Drinkers while my first glass lay only half down. It is bizarre when your boyfriend bonds with your friends over things that don’t concern you.
He listens in rapt silence (yes, we’re still in that phase) and then says,
You….think too much! Why does it matter what anyone else thinks? My friends, your friends, how does it matter?
I cringe. That makes me sound like an attention-hound. But people do matter. My people’s opinions certainly matter. And his people are, well, his people. They matter to him and hence their opinons do too. He sniffs that he doesn’t care what anyone thinks or says. But how can it not??!!! I want to yell. How can I not care about people who seem to know my name and who I’m closely involved with? How can they not matter to me? He just shrugs and grins back at me and for the time being, the questions are laid aside.
Later in the evening, I speak to E and make a dinner date with her. I add that I invited the man to join but he declined saying that the two of us needed to catch up and bitch about me. She laughs,
“I bet that’s exactly what he’s afraid of!”
“Nope, he’s smug in the knowledge that you like him.”
“Well, that’s true. He’s great.”
I grin. I guess it works out fine whether or not you think about it.