Starting caveat: I’m writing this with options, to disguise true identities and you can pick one to fill-in-the-blank, because really it doesn’t kind of matter.
I recently said to someone that men get away with so much more than women and they looked at me funny. I was referring to what women put up with, what men feel justified for asking for and what a funny equation that is. I was speaking in this case, pointedly, to physical aspects.
Now it’s no news flash that men want women in better shape than they are or have their perception of who they are. It goes back to the old cartoon of a lovely woman looking in the mirror and seeing fat and lumps and a fat guy looks in the mirror and sees Hercules. That’s as old as time.
However last year I got to choose between a guy with external physical issue or a guy with an internal disorder. I went with the internal problem but I’m pretty sure the end result would have been the same. But I’m ahead of myself.
New to perception, at least mine, is the disability thing. A shrink once told me a guy who isn’t married doesn’t get serious until he realizes he needs someone to take care of him in his senescence. That’s so so true. I once was seeing a guy who was Mr. I Need My Freedom; want to take off and no one knows where I am. Live my life, do what I want. Great. All great. Oh yeah, until the lower back/neck bone metal plate/re-aligning of hip surgery and then suddenly it was ‘You’re the woman of my dreams I can’t live without you’, song and dance. Could I drive out to Westchester/New Jersey/Long Island to help him food shop. Yeah, sure, I’d love to drop everything for a guy who once he’s better will likely go back to I need my space, anyway. Long long long ago, before I had attained all this wonderful wisdom, I met a guy who I was planning to move very far to be with. Whilest getting my ducks in a row he broke a leg/sprained an ankle/ tripped over his ego and because he was off his feet an old girlfriend offered to move in and take care of him. I’m sure she thought it was a ticket to the ring on the 3rd finger. Silly girl. As soon as he was up on his feet, adios senorita. And good bye to me because by then that ship had sailed despite, thank you, I had already quit my job, but again, another story for another day.
Now I met a guy who was so nice and fun and good looking but about half way through a getting to you know session I felt there was something wrong. Literally felt it. Not ESP or emotional signals, literally hands on felt something. I had a girlfriend who said she couldn’t feel her boyfriend when they were making love. She was a very dramatic European/Asia/African so I assured her the feelings would develop over time as it was a new thing. She said, “No. I can’t feel him. As in he’s built like a 5 year old.” Oh. Sorry. Yeah, problem. That’s not going to change over time. Not without some device or surgery. Anyway, I digress, but sure enough the truth emerges that there’s a colonoscopy bag/wooden leg/ artificial arm involved that hadn’t been revealed before. Now I grant you, not everything has to come out on the first date, and I’ve had some whopper things said to me on first dates. But I remember I did have a guy recount to me how he met a woman for coffee with a fake leg and was so offended she hadn’t told him prior that he walked out. So there’s that which just felt so rude even in the re-counting of it. So some malady appears and makes you step back and say, ‘am I that guy?’ There was a book in the 70’s I wish I could remember the name. But there’s a scene in the beginning of when this young boy likes a girl at camp and she shows up with some pubic hair sticking out of her bathing suit and he dumps her for that. He’s around 13 at the time. I think he goes on to become a mensch but that’s not the point. That scene always stuck with me. Is that all it takes? Yes ladies, that can be all it takes. 13 or 53. There are 2 options: you can be the person who as soon as there’s a glitch makes like a cartoon character with the swirly lines behind them as they take off (think road runner) or you can say “does this person’s issue, which is not my own, really matter?” And you try to take the high road because you’re not that guy (aka every guy) but then find you don’t have to ride that emotional self-plagued see-saw because he’s going to stiff you anyway by not answering texts, not being in touch and being offended when you’ve moved on from lack of communication. A jerk, with or without some non-human working part, is still a jerk (I don’t dare say asshole because that would give away the irony of the ailment).
I had a friend whose sister had MS and was literally strapped to a board. It was very sad, but the interesting thing was when presented with a silver bracelet for some occasion she somehow communicated back, I don’t do silver, go get me gold. Her brother commented, she always was a diva pain in the ass and while she can’t move, she’s still who she is inside, for the good or the bad of it. People always speak about the person inside. Well, the person inside doesn’t become Sister Teresa because they have a problem. We like to think we would, “I’d be so appreciative if I was only dying of cancer,” but you know….we are who we are.
Case in point: I had a friend who met a guy who was a paraplegic/semi-deaf/missing an arm from a tragic running/biking/car accident. She fell hard for this guy, no pun intended. Now just because a person has a disability doesn’t mean they’re not entitled to opinions or feelings or is suddenly going to become Mr. Empathy. It’s not that. But when he used her for some quick sex and dumped her, it was still somewhat shocking. Not that getting dumped by someone with a disability should hurt more but it’s kind of like the difference of having your husband leave you for the secretary versus leaving you for the boy who mows your lawn. It’s inexplicably a different kind of emotional equation. I can’t help it, it just is and maybe that’s partly an ‘at this age’ thing . I don’t know. Her episode at the time brought to mine one of my own.
I once met a guy with herpes/typhoid/HIV who was kind enough to tell me kind of at the outset. Again, not first date material but not something you can let go on unsaid forever. There are certain risks one is going to take, not going to take, where there’s not a life commitment involved. Let’s say, for example, like moving to San Francisco after dating for 2 weeks because the relationship might have legs. And then finding out the guy is really kind of gay…..but that’s another story, (not mine thank god) and I’m getting off track. So, while trying to figure out the pros and cons, this guy dumped ME, which was ironic and further, went on to date not one but a few women who apparently didn’t take as long to think as I did. Wouldn’t be the first time my brain got in the way, nor would it be the first the time my brain saved me from being a dumb-ass. I mean otherwise, this guy was totally a keeper. I’m actually saying that with a straight face. This guy was the bomb and on the market, which I hate to say I thought about. Why is this great guy available? And then I found out.
I saw, a long while back a guy who had Hep C/un-remitting house shattering snoring/a washing down pills with gin addiction and he said to me, why do you go out with me? He said actually, I can’t believe that so many women are willing to go out with me. And I think I answered something stupid like, you’re nice and you stay in touch, and he said, wow that’s a mighty low bar. The sad thing is it is and yet it isn’t, but he had a point. He also broke up with me, not vice versa, which in retrospect was another dodged a bullet (brain where were you then?) but it felt pretty ironic at the time. At the time, and still to this day may I add.
As long as I’m making a list……
I also met a guy with one leg shorter than the other. He was really good looking, a model long ago and damn if I don’t have the stupidest soft spot for good looking men – it’s a disease I’m curing myself of, to a degree. He used a cane and never walked without holding onto my arm, which had its charms I suppose, until you’re married for 5 years and then it’s annoying. The short leg wasn’t the issue. It was the $80 worth of alcohol at brunch, the 6 drinks with lunch, the hysterical laughter coming from the bathroom because there was a funny Light Side cartoon on the wall and lastly, the piece d’resistance—drum roll — the living in a trailer. There’s WANT TO live in a trailer because you love the coziness and freedom of it (you know who you are, I won’t mention names) and there’s HAS TO because you and your cat/invisible friend/favorite stuffed animal are never long enough in one place to afford a place to live.
As long as we’re speaking defects, there was the guy who post surgery had to remove his eyeball to wash it/stick a needle in his johnson to get it upright/sleep with a bandana on because of a metal plate in his head. I mean at some point you ask yourself, this isn’t MY story. This doesn’t directly affect MY life, and by the time it does it will have been because I’m so madly in love and committed that it won’t matter. I mean I have defects. I have to think about what they are but I’m sure I have some (I’ll get back to you with that). But the question is why as a girl do we think this is ok I’ll work around it when the average guy would get out of dodge before you could correctly spell dodge. This guy also dumped me (do we see a pattern here) for someone younger. Men always say they’re visual creatures. That’s how they explain not being able to put up with one of your eyebrows has a white streak from the time you were stung by a bee (or because you’re in your 50s and you have 3 white eye brow hairs, but you read the bee story once and it sounds better than I’m post-menopause, thank you, and have you seen Andy Rooney [RIP] and he was ON TV with those things, by the way). So they think because they have eyes they’re entitled to be selective and judgmental. We have eyes too (well with the right glasses on) my good fellow and trust me, I can be as visual and selective as the next guy, literally. (See comment about short legged model above). The difference is I also have a brain which blood flows to and my brain is not short a pint because it’s between my legs for any given amount of time, like 4 hours – call your doctor, bud. Anyway, women see you, not that guy in the mirror you see, the real guy, and some women also see what’s in your bank account. The young ones when you’re old enough to have had part altering surgery and ask you to un-do your vasectomy because despite your existent 4 children she wants another one and you do because you’re……I’m looking for the word..……braindead? Then you’re shocked when she divorces you and asks for alimony AND CHILD SUPPORT and you didn’t see that coming. And despite that you THEN dump me for another younger woman because this time will be different. That’s the universe working its magic again, protecting me from myself. And from you too buddy, by the way.
So for those still with me, the guy with the internal issue also just walked away. His demons got the best of him. I was just getting friendly with them but apparently it’s easier to be friends with someone else’s devils than your own. I think that’s probably obvious although not always the rule, the devils being diverse at this point in life.
(Ok. So I thought of one. I get night sweats. It’s from lyme/menopause/tempurpedic foam mattress. I grant you, bursting into flames like the burning bush in Exodus 3:1-17 isn’t always the greatest thing. You go to cuddle and suddenly you’re swathed in a sea of…. I don’t know what but it’s not pleasant. It’s just not great. I’m always so appreciative of the guy who puts up with that. But it’s only for about 30 seconds and it comes in really really handy in the winter. I mean it has more upsides than an ileostomy bag, if one needs to compete with one’s maladies. I’m just sayin’. )
But the larger question after all this is why we do what we do. Do you think a guy would go out with a woman with some (fill in the blank — pick any one above) of a certain type of defect? I’ll tell you so you don’t have to waste the time. NO. And yet I know many of these guys went on to date someone else. Some next victim who either put up with it or side stepped the obvious for some time. Until HE gets tired of HER.
So there should be some winding up point here. I’m not sure what the point is. As women we’re more evolved? (duh) Desperate (in NYC also duh, maybe not so much in an oil town in North Dakota)? Higher emotional IQ (dare I say it….duh again). I don’t know. But having been dumped again by a guy with a mental disorder/got stoned daily/turned into Boris Karloff after a few drinks I’m sticking with the universe is protecting me. I just wish she’d ease up a bit sometimes.