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.
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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?”
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.
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.
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So I just read this article by [Redacted] Guy (yes, that’s what he calls himself) about the ten things he wishes his dates wouldn’t do while out with him. He asks for suggestions, so here are mine. Considering it’s a long list (List! List! My favorite word again!), I put it up as a post. Here’s what I soooo wish guys wouldn’t do when on a date with me.
1. Staring at my bust
There is just no excuse for this. Without entirely condoning it, I’m willing to see that a random guy on a bus or across the street may do this. He has the right to look where he wants. And I have the right to mentally strike him off my list of people I would ever go out with. But when I’m on a date with you, I don’t have that option anymore. Not at least till the end of the date, I’m at least that nice. Be nice to me and don’t treat me like a sex object the very minute we start the date.
2. Ogling other women
This follows from the first since some men use the excuse that ‘I can’t look at you so I’ll look at others’. We’re out on a date. That means you and I are getting together to spend some time with each other. Focus on the last three words. One date does not tie you to me but it does warrant the courtesy of your undivided attention at least.
Showing off probably comes naturally to the male species especially when in the presence of the opposite sex. Animals do it, insects do it and human men do it too. Only don’t go on and on about it. The showing off is a mating ritual among the aforementioned life forms and ceases once the connection has been made. Assume that the connection has been made the minute the date has been accepted. There’s really no reason to go on and on about the number of foreign trips you go on, how earth-shatteringly important you are to your company, how you were having tea last week with the Dalai Lama and how many thousand books you read in the past year. It’s off-putting and most importantly it’s boring. I tuned out the minute you started throwing numbers at me.
4. Not listening at all
It’s a conversation. That means both people talk and listen. Talk some, I’ll listen. Then I’ll talk and you need to do more than stare around the room, ask the waiter for refills and interrupt to tell me about the movie I saw. Believe me, I could interest you with more than my bust. I have a sense of humour, an opinion and intelligence too. Give me a chance to let you see that too.
5. Calling me things like ‘Babe’, ‘Sweetheart’ or ‘Honeybun’
It’s a first date. I could be your girlfriend but I’m not, yet. We could be friends but we haven’t gotten to the place, right now. Undue familiarity and worse, sexist phrases are instant turn-offs. I have a name, use it. I might permit you to give me a nickname, but at least be original.
6. Playing SuperShrink
You’ve probably heard that women dabble in pop psychology. Maybe I have issues. Everyone does, it’s normal. Don’t put me under a microscope and psycho-analyze me on a date. It’s immensely offensive to tell me I am afraid of getting too close to men because of my Electra complex. If you’re a doctor, that’s work during a leisure activity. BORING. If you’re not a doctor, it tells me you’re just being a creep.
It’s not cool to be commitment-phobic. I am not concerned with how messy your love life has been so far or how busy you are at work. You can go for a movie alone or have lunch on your own if those are true. If this date is happening, it’s because you agreed to it. Don’t waste my time and yours by coming to a date and then telling me why it can’t go further. If it’s not coming along as well as you thought, just tell me so. I may be disappointed but that’s better than being disgusted. If you’re that terrified of telling me the truth, at least wait till the date’s over. Don’t scuttle it while it’s in progress.
8. Bringing other people along
Are you serious? Friends? Mothers? Siblings? Colleagues? If it’s a date, it’s between two people. Any more and it’s a party, a group or worse – an orgy. I’ve nothing against meeting big groups of people. But not on a date. You ask people out because you want to spend time with them alone. You accept a date for the same reason. For group dos, you get invited and drop in or not. It’s different. Please get that, it messes things up if you don’t.
9. Self-help style follow throughs
This is important. If the date went well, it’s okay to keep in touch. Strike that, it’s good form, it’s good for you and for me to keep in touch. Please forget what you heard about waiting 2 days before calling (or whatever it was you learnt in school and college). Those games are for adolescents. Send a text message saying it was fun and you’d like to catch up again. Add me on Facebook. Email or drop me a note. Open a chat window and say hi. There are loads of embarrassment-free ways to say that you liked what you saw and would like to know more.
10. Being a jerk
This is super-critical so listen up: Do everything or anything in point.9 only, repeat ONLY if you are interested in going out again. There’s no easy way to say that it didn’t quite ‘happen’ so just don’t say anything at all. But don’t prolong the agony by keeping up the conversation. We’ve spent some time in each other’s company. If it didn’t work out, there’s no reason to waste any more of each other’s time. You don’t get brownie NiceGuy points for acting interested when you are not.
* A version is posted to Yahoo! Real Beauty.
The Date Doctor says,
A woman’s best friend has to sign off on all big relationship desicions.
Now is that true? Let us think.
Meet a nice guy. Tell P about it. And bitch about the asshole who never called her back.
He asked for our number. We think about it and give it to him. And update P on the situation. And issue strict instructions to not call a-hole back.
He’s calling!! Talktalktalktalktalktalk. Guess who’s the first to hear about it? But of course, whose jacket are we going to wear after all? Oh but forget it, we’d rather eat chocolate ice-cream and watch soppy movies with P on the weekend. Not to mention bitch about all men in general.
Uh, he asked us out and we accepted. But P knew that already. There’s a reason she’s our best friend. Just the same as we know that she’s having dinner with Mr.Last Week-but-didn’t-call this week. Wait till late tonight. We’ll both spill.
Should I ask him out? – Haven’t you already…see, I knew it!
Comittment? – Naah..too early. Besides, are you really sure you want to see him for the rest of your life?
Should I say yes? Should I say no? No. Yes. Yes. No.
Is he the one? Is he THE one? Is HE the one? IS HE THE ONE?
P is our safety valve. We are hers.
When we got into an abusive relationship, P is the one that took us by the scruff of our neck and dragged us out, kicking and screaming. We will forever love her for that. Just like we always hate it when she brings that up each time we discuss a new man. But at least it has kept us from ever falling into hell again. We keep hearing her voice in our head when we meet someone potentially ‘bad news’. Its louder than our own voice of reason that seems to get quashed under hormones and wistful dreaminess.
We once threatened to break the bones of the stud-muffin she was dating if he ever, ever, EVER hurt her. Uh…he was a six-footer with muscles to match, by the way. Oh well, we have also warded off several unwanted admirers, had several tussels with one persistantly obsessive one and been her security guard at some social occasions.
So do we sign off on each other’s relationship desicions? Umm…not exactly. We don’t need her permission to date anyone just as she doesn’t need ours. But we always feel a little better if she has a good feeling about the person we’re with. It sort of makes us feel…well, not as vulnerable and at the mercy of our unpredictable emotions and men’s wiles (yes they have them too!)
Who said women weren’t rational? Everyone gets a little wonky in the head when they meet someone they really like. Hormones, fairytales and romantic movies, the feel-good factor….hell, love is a commodity sold at every second shop! Who are we to be able to resist the power of THAT? We is quite capable of making bad desicions (and we’ve proved that over and over again). But we have a safety valve that keeps her head in our crises, blows the whistle loud in our ears, screams us awake when we’re walking into things semi-hypnotised and finally, if despite all that we fall……she picks up the pieces and nurses them back to life. We would do exactly the same.
She’s our best friend. Wouldn’t her opinion count?
A woman’s best friend more often than not, plays devil’s advocate (oh yes, if she’s a true best friend she does!). Looks like the monster mom-in-law has been replaced by the Formidable Best Friend (FBF). Well, we take our best friend very seriously. She’s our bodyguard (heart-guard as well), the voice of our conscience, our sounding board, our therapist and finally…our advocate.
As we likes to say…
Lovers may come and lovers may pass. But a friend is for life.