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The Third Toothbrush

I’ve written about the importance of a girl’s best friend. Here’s when I get to introduce this blog to another important person – the boy’s best buddy. Let’s call him BBB (in the manner of BFFs).

BBB is a classmate of the boy and shares with him those great memories, of people who’ve lived a campus life together. He’s surprisingly (or maybe not so much) different from the boy. Where the boy is a recluse, he’s friendly and sociable. The boy leans to extreme attitudes (burning passion for games, strictly classical approach to literature, loathing for popular music) while BBB seems open to a wide range of cultural offerings. He laughs often and makes other people laugh. In short, he’s almost a male version of me.

My first memory of BBB was when I called the boy during one of his nights out with the boys. Much laughing and shrieking and giggling (?) was in progress in the background. A short pause and the boy said in a flat voice,

“I’ll call you back. BBB is grabbing my chest hair.”

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

The day I was introduced to the BBB, I was rummaging about in the kitchen, looking for the neat pile of home delivery menus I’d put together for the boy.

“What a mess!! How did you manage to put every one of those menus in a different place in 3 days??”

BBB giggled and the boy, (hitherto unbothered) glared at him and yelled,

“What are you, six years old??!”

Unperturbed the BBB retorted,

“Be a modern man and help the lady around the house! R, I wish you all the luck with that though!”

There have been several entertaining conversations since then, with me and the BBB exchanging titbits about the boy, who tries to silence us by glaring. The best he’s able to come up with is low mutterings about curd-rice eaters. You see, BBB is half-Tamilian by birth and has lived in the South for the better part of his life. The boy has to fall silent when I point out that for all this curd rice phobia, he’s uncannily drawn to the denizens of that school of culinary thought.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

The boy and I passed the crucial relationship stage of staying over at his place awhile ago. He bought me a toothbrush (awww, yes) and plopped it next to his own, in the holder. I haven’t had much call to use it but it’s always there. It’s one of those comforting signals, one unconsciously looks for, in a relationship.

Last month, I was refreshing my make-up, when I stopped dead in my tracks. In that innocuous little plastic holder above the washbasin, there was a third toothbrush.

“So who’s part of this merry ménage a trios?”

I asked, pointing to the guilty toothbrush.

The boy’s deadpan reply was,

“BBB.”

Guh. My steady ol’ Mr.Everyday gives me no reason to worry about other women. It’s another man I need to be thinking about.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Incidentally it is the BBB’s birthday today. Last night, the boy and I were over at his place wishing him amidst much alcohol, pizza and cake. The guys bopped him all over the floor in that barbaric boy ritual of birthday bumps. Then they made him down a quarter bottle of neat whiskey. And when he came up for air, I handed him a bottle of cold water. Then the cake was cut and I smushed a piece onto his face, which may have been the start of that mess that was all over the kitchen floor when we left. At one point of time, he grabbed me into a hug and yelled

“Welcome to the family!”

The boy looked pained and said,

“Okay, I haven’t been asked to be a part of that family yet but you’re already welcome?! Hmph!”

I waved around the thermacol light saber-sword that I found lying around (that both BBB and his flatmate claim belongs to the other) and laughed. He took it from me, tapped me on each shoulder saying “Knight. Knight” and said he’d bequeath it to me in his will. As the drinks went down, he also called the boy and me, his favorite drunken couple and promised to take our children to Sunday school.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Unlike the boy, I do believe that it is important to at least make an effort to get along with the friends and family of your significant other. It does make life easier. So I’m really relieved that I get along so effortlessly well with the BBB. Socializing is obviously much, much more enjoyable when you actually like the people you’re with. I know the boy probably spends less time with his friends since getting into this relationship (and so do I with my friends!). But the BBB and his other friends haven’t made a fuss of it. Hmm, guy friends always seem to be a little easier to deal with, in that way.

BBB has known him far longer than I have, so he knows where the boy is coming from. But I also find I relate to him so he shares my viewpoint in a lot of things. It’s a good balanced perspective for the boy, one that is agreeable to me too.

I do think BBB is a great guy. So I’m really happy for the boy that he has him for a best friend. Even if I do have to share a toothbrush holder with him.

XXFactored!: November 2010 – Lists, Style, Love And Harry Potter

I’ve barely posted through the month of November. What with one thing or another with the domain problems and having to move back to good ol’ free WordPress, things got pushed aside. But the XX Factor Facebook page has been active, sure enough. And for those of you who didn’t catch the updates as they happened, here are the highlights once again:

  • I was surprised at how accurate these felt even in the Indian context. Human relationships are universal, I suppose. 20 things couples should do before they move in together and another 20 they should not do after moving in together (via TheFrisky)
  • What I want to know is – what qualifies as ‘new’? 10 basic rules for a new relationship (via YourTango)
  • Of special interest to me since I made the first move with Mr.Everyday and I did at least two of the things on this list. 🙂 10 subtle ways to make the first move. (via TheFrisky)
  • Flirting styles by the cast of Beverley Hills 90210 (via Lemondrop)
  • 7 tips for dressing curves that are a must-read for the Indian-woman-sized figure. (via AllWomanStalk)
  • A tricky question indeed: “Am I wrong for hooking up with my friend’s ex-?” (via TheFrisky)
  • Pool Noodle girlfriend & other gross things guys do. Eww, dirty boys! (via TheFrisky)
  • Much of this, common sense. But we all need reminding of THAT sometimes, don’t we?: How to fall in love with Mr.Good Enough. (via YourTango)
  • We’ve read these a hundred times before. We know them off the tops of our heads. We rarely disagree with each other on these, no matter what our differences. But still ‘men’s mistakes’ always get us off…laughing!: The 10 stupidest mistakes men make with women. (via TheFrisky)
  • An Indian (?) guy reading an Indian (?) author. HOT! (via HotGuysReadingBooks)
  • 12 techno-relationship rules to live by. (via TheDailyBeast)
  • A whole list of things that made me go ‘Awwww’ and which would make my boyfriend cringe if I ever actually mentioned them!: What do men really find romantic? (via ThirdAge)
  • The best way to be with a funny woman. (via DoubleViking)
  • 4 secrets every woman should know. (via TheRealCougarWoman)
  • How to buy lingerie for a woman. (via ModernMan)
  • 8 Harry Potter tools we want for our relationships. (via YourTango)
  • The Dance Of The Pot – How did we ever turn into such a patriarchal, chauvinistic society? (via Devdutt)
  • I was baffled by an invite I received recently which asked for ‘Smart Casual attire’. Read about setting a dress cold for your party. (via ManofTheHouse)
  • Feminism turned on its *ahem* occasionally biased head. (viaWords&Pictures)

I really have been a listmaniac this month, haven’t I? 😀 I’m still waiting to hear what you think of my picks! Love? Hate? Snooze?

Overthunk

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 know.”

I grin. I guess it works out fine whether or not you think about it.

Mr.Everyday

I’ve thought and thought about how and what to do with this post. I actually have another draft but it doesn’t feel right. So I’ll do what I’ve always done with this blog – be honest.

The dilemma is something I did figure would come up someday, in fact I rather hoped it would. What happens to all my male-bashing, my dudette/chick schizophrenia, my girlie fascinations and my single gal rants when I’m not single anymore? Now’s when we get to find out. Yes, you read that right.

I’ve never written about him, either literally (reporting a conversation, incident or experience) or metaphorically (slotting into the character types I’ve painstakingly organized men into). He’s new to me and to this blog.

He’s smart and educated but he’s not a Pedigreed Pup. He’s a bit of a breakaway but not exactly a Bad Boy. He’s not a Male Slut or a Metrosexual Man. He’s a regular guy with his own funny quirks and irritating habits and surprises. I’m going to call him Mr.Everyday.

He’s really the kind of guy you might pass on the street or sit a few seats away from, in a show. Indeed, I very nearly missed him myself on some of these very occasions. It took one unplanned and spectacular conversation to crystallize an everyday guy into someone special, somebody I’d overstep a few boundaries to get to know, someone who might be worth a few risks. Someone I’d like to know, to be with, every single day.

He challenges my assumptions about men, about relationships and about life in general. He makes me laugh and he makes me think. He argues with me, agrees with me, is indifferent to some things I’m passionate about and points me towards things I never noticed before. He is a friend. And more. He’s the comfort of daily rituals with the tiny surprising discoveries of life each day. That’s why he’s my Mr.Everyday.

So this then, is the new man in my life and this is the new me. I was cooling off on the male-bashing theme anyway. Maybe it’s time to hold up a white flag in the battle of the sexes. A time for some fun and a little love.

Until the next post,
Not A Single Gal Anymore

Fear & Insecurity

A conversation with a wise girlfriend you’re seeing after awhile can be food for thought. As you exchange titbits of information about news and the then and the now, there’s realization and growing up that happens in those very moments.

I mentioned a name, quite unconsciously with reference to something else. She picked it up and probed. So I told her some. And she told me what she knew, coming from a different source, a different angle. As we put the two together, her story and mine, we created an idea, based on the framework of the person we discussed.

There are of course the men who never got used to the fact that women got a vote, the right to their own bodies, education and careers as well. But there’s a different sort of man around now. This one has had ample time to get used to it. Maybe he had a strong mother. Perhaps he grew up with an ambitious sister. Or maybe he was just sharp that way and found himself the company of women like that.

That means he’s had the time to not just understand and appreciate their motives but also see their Achilles heel, hidden as it may be. The women of today are just as human as the ones that came before them. And hence, we have our own brand of insecurities and fears.

The thing is, my wise friend said,

A guy who sees that insecurity and tries to exploit it to his advantage.

Don’t we know him? We all do, we’ve encountered him at various points of time. In the case we discussed, there was a girl who my friend described as ‘not conventionally good-looking’. The guy in question knows this and seems to be using this over her as a control game. The reason this clicked was that I know when he tried a similar strategy but with a different tactic. He used age instead of looks.

Now the guy in question is of barely any, if at all, consequence to me. The reason this stayed with me is because it brought me back to my own experience of an abusive relationship all those years ago. It’s been very difficult for me to answer questions like why I stayed with him and what hold he had over me.

The answer is of course that he knew my fears and took advantage of them. No one is so strong that they have no fears. And nobody is so guarded in a relationship that keep all their secrets. But those secrets can turn into ammunition in the wrong hands.

Strangely enough our conversation earlier in the evening revolved around fairness creams. I was trying to explain why the idea of having worked with them at some point of time in my career is something I carry with heavy guilt. She admitted that she had used fairness creams for a good while herself. Then she said,

Strange as it may sound, my moment of reckoning came when I read about the Aishwarya Rai-Salman Khan relationship. To know that a woman like could get battered was to realize that it had nothing to do with looks whatsoever. And that’s when I stopped needing those creams.

Hmm, interesting. So we have our fearful secrets and we have even more furtive ways of getting over them. Those close to us can turn traitor. While those on a completely different world from us, can be our salvation.

The Garden Of Eden Within

I spent a few hours at the salon this week. Ostensibly for a haircut but I ended up getting my feet, face and self pampered as well. I came out feeling…the way I very occasionally have felt in the company of a good friend or (even more occasionally) a boyfriend. I felt cherished and cared for.

I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of my ‘I’m really just a tomboy in the girl’s room’ mentality. The parlour is an on-schedule visit for me most times with all kinds of things to be taken care of with a side-whine of “If I was a guy, I’d never have to worry about all this!!” I barely have time to fit in all the things that need to be done into my schedule.

Yesterday was different. Owing to the fact that I did have a lot of time and had made a conscious decision to not rush through things, I just sat back and let myself be taken care of. First came the hair-styling with my wonderful mind-reader of a stylist. A trim with a hair-colouring, he pronounced and proceeded to silver-foil my tresses. While I was waiting, I got a pedicure and foot massage in the bargain. That done, he shampooed and massaged my head. Everyone knows (or should know) that few things make a woman feel as wonderfully cared for as a luxuriant shampoo in warm water; better yet if done by a man. There is something special about having large, otherwise rough hands touching your sensitive scalp so gently. Even if it your hairdresser and not your boyfriend or husband. The pedicure was actually done by a lady but ah…who can resist a foot massage?

I won’t get into further details of what else got done but suffice to say, I left a good 4 hours later (with a hefty bill of course). I realised a few things. Firstly, I really indulge myself so little. I have to force myself to enjoy things ‘just because’ without my mind jumping to an immediate cost-benefit analysis. Secondly, I realised why women love visiting beauty parlours. It is a well-known fact that women crave the feeling of being cherished and appreciated and we look for it in all our relationships. It is probably a less acknowledged fact that most of us don’t receive as much of it as we would like or indeed, need.

A beauty parlour is the physical equivalent of a therapist. The latter is someone you pay to listen to you while the former is where you pay to be pampered. Even if the best things in life are free, they’re not available easily. So with our newfound economic power, who’s to stop us from buying the next best substitutes that money can indeed, buy?

~O~O~O~O~O~

On another note, I also went shopping today. A chance remark from a friend also got me thinking. He said,

I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear any footwear other than sneakers.

And yet, I know I have a shoe-drawer full of sandals, kitten heels, mules, slippers and block heels. But I just haven’t been making the effort lately. Drowned in practicality and pretty much just barely keeping my head above the water, I have been pulling on my sneakers and rushing out with little attention to my looks. My make-up drawer lies neglected, my dresses and skirts from an earlier shopaholic phase haven’t seen daylight in ages.

It may seem shallow to think that my femininity lies in dolling up, shopping till I drop and spending hours at the spa. It isn’t entirely that. It is the attitude that drives it. The desire to look and feel good physically. With no little modesty, I already look and feel good mentally. That is to say, I can hold my own in a conversation, I have ‘personality’ (which in some circles isn’t exactly a compliment but sucks to that crowd, I make my own rules. I have attitude as well.)

My vanity is what has been missing. It hasn’t cost me anything, externally. Quite truthfully, I have been getting my usual share of compliments and male interest coming my way. But it is something within, something invisible to other people. I think it is the idea of doing something for myself, of wanting something just because I do, without having to explain myself to any group of people, without having to fit into a norm of intelligence and practicality. It is that realization that I’m as intelligent, worthy, successful, respectable and admirable as I’d ever want to be or to prove. And now it’s time to spend time just doing things that make me feel good. Not for a reason but just because.

Suddenly I have a whole new understanding of why beauty lies within. It’s got nothing to do with how other people see you. It has everything to do with how you see yourself. The Garden of Eden within you, how do you cherish and nurture it?

———————————————————————————————-

A version is posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

A Woman’s Best Friend

The Date Doctor says,

A woman’s best friend has to sign off on all big relationship desicions.

– “Hitch”

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.

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