When Women Let Me Down

Nothing disappoints me more than a smart woman who allows herself to be manipulated by a mediocre man.

Hanna left New York City half a decade ago to start a new life in a foreign city far, far away. She was on a mission — to leave behind the man that was her bad habit, who broke her heart over and over again, and to start afresh, meanwhile reconnecting with her heritage.  We all agreed it was the best thing for her, and when she told me she was ready to return to the city that had forged our friendship, I was keen to meet a changed woman.

“I haven’t been gone a week and I’m already pining for my life there. My friends, my boss, my old job, and this fellow.”

She was baiting me, and I knew it. Last we chatted she was long out of a relationship and not looking for anything new. There was no reason to be pining for a fellow…

But as a friend, I knew my duty and took the bait: “Fellow?”

She proceeded to give a brief overview — on the eve of her departure, she finally got together with that guy friend nothing had ever happened with. Since then, they’ve been talking every day. When I asked her why he waited until she was leaving to make his move, she said things were complicated.

“That’s a bunch of bullshit,” I said, in typical 4th wave feminist fashion. “Things were only complicated if he’s married.”

“He’s married.”

That didn’t surprise me. Hanna had a predilection for men who were emotionally unavailable and this wasn’t the first time she had chosen one with a wedding ring.

“Then he’s a slug. And not because he cheated on his wife with you. Because he doesn’t give a shit about you.”

“That’s a pretty harsh stance to take off the bat.”

When she swung into his defense, I began to doubt her top-tier credentials. Didn’t she know she was being used? For an Ivy League lawyer, reason and ethics clearly weren’t her fortes.

The thing is, not long ago, I had been Hanna — a parting of ways and a final night option of a one night stand with someone I cared about. We didn’t know when we’d see each other again, and even if we did, we’d never live in the same city again. Buried feelings were exchanged, but instead of taking up the offer to spend the night, I left.

The minute I got into the cab, I regretted leaving. But by the time I paid my fare and walked up to my apartment, I was angry. After all these years, why did it have to take leaving to tell me how he felt? Because, I realized, he didn’t actually want to be in a relationship with me. I knew that no matter what was said or what was done, I wasn’t moving for him and he wasn’t staying. End of story.

We all make silly decisions when we get caught up in love or lust, or more often, when we find ourselves in need of some sort of validation. For me, leaving was the best thing I could have done for my head and our friendship. Nothing affirms our relationship more than our once a year drink when he flies through town and our Thanksgiving phone call.

“I think you should call him to say you decided to move back so you can be together,” I finally suggested. “Let’s see how he reacts to that. And then let’s see if he’s still worth pining over.”

She called me traditional and cited my relative youth, implying I was naive. It looked like the jury had ruled and my closing argument went unnoticed.

Who am I to judge, anyway.




So, What’s Your Type

For as long as I can remember, people have always had strong opinions about what type of guy is my Mr. Right.

The summer I graduated from high school, my South African godfather came to visit. At the same time, a boy I knew from out of town was staying in our guest room. It was a house full of foreigners.

“He’s a nice young fellow,” Hilton said of my 17-year old guest, “but he’s far too young for you. You need to be seeing someone who is at least 21, maybe even 22.”

I assured him that the young fellow sleeping in the room next to mine was in no way a romantic interest. I was flattered that my worldly godfather should think I deserved a boyfriend who wasn’t a boy, but a grown-up man. It felt good to be a teenager who seemed mature beyond her years.

Dan decided I need a "No Reservations" style Aaron Eckhart to my Catherine Zeta Jones

My godfather was typical of those in my life — everyone I met had ardent beliefs about what type man was my match. They may not have all agreed on age difference, profession, and nationality, but all were quick to offer an opinion.

My roommate in college decided the only person I could have children with was Charley. “You’re sporty and strict. He’s awkward and friendly. You’d be the disciplinarian. He’d be the one that takes them for ice cream. Together, you’d read them The Odyssey at bedtime.”

I didn’t necessarily mind her pick, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about her assessment of my potential parenting persona. I do like ice cream, after all.

“You can’t marry a guy who makes you cook for him,” Dan said as he watched me drop homemade butternut squash ravioli into a pot of boiling water. “He has to be someone who will cook with you.”

I’d gotten so accustomed to people telling me who I should be looking for that I never designed my own version of  Mr. Right. Then one day, I was blindsided by a question no one had ever asked…

Could I say Gerard Butler is my "type?" Or is Gerard Butler just a look?

“So, what’s the deal — what type of guy are you looking for?”

I was at a loss. Smart, funny, athletic, and good-looking is non-specific– it’s the standard-issue type for the indecisive. When I thought about it, every guy I ever knew or dated was, in some form or another, smart, funny, athletic, and good-looking.

I racked my brain. Could I name an actor? Would Gerard Butler suffice, or is Gerard Butler a look (and an apartment)? Someone interesting enough that our wedding will win the “Vows” column in the Sunday Times? Likewise, non-specific.

Finally, it hit me:

“I want a guy who makes me smile the way my puppy does. He should be the kind of guy who would propose while we’re hiking up a mountain but want to hold the reception in the atrium at MoMA.”

“I don’t know anyone like that,” the person replied. “But I can set you up with a guy who has season tickets at Yankee stadium.”

I shrugged and wondered why he bothered asking. It looked like for now, a man with Yankees season tickets was just my type.

Sorry, I can’t date you. You’re the kind of girl I want to take home to Mother

“The problem with you,” a mother of a guy friend once told me in conversation, “is that you’re not the type of girl guys want to date. you’re the kind of girl they want to marry.”

the glass of champagne in my hand tipped sideways, and a few precious drops fell to the floor before i chug-a-lugged the remaining contents in an attempt to mitigate her revelation. I didn’t really know how to respond. Had she just uncovered the source of all my men “trouble”? Certainly, she had just dealt me a new out for the question “why aren’t you seeing anyone?” She meant her comment to be complimentary — I’m a nice girl, who “deserves to be treated well,” she explained when she saw my jaw drop. Guys my age, despite their other shortcomings, are at least sensible enough to realize that they’re not ready to be in a “grown-up” relationship with a girl “who has her act together.” They don’t want to make girls like me cry.

By the time I got home, I had decided it wasn’t important if I was “one of those girls.” The more important question was: Do guys under 35 really approach women so sensibly? Do they really separate girls they want to sleep with from girls they want to have children with? I was skeptical. Maybe, I’m not giving the opposite sex enough credit.

Indeed, maybe I’m not. Recently, I read an advice column that claimed to shed light on “What it Means if He Doesn’t Call You Back.” It corroborated my friend’s mother’s observation — sometimes guys “go poof” because they meet a girl that deserves more commitment than they’re willing to give. It’s not that the fellas are commitment-phobic; it’s that the girl is the kind of girl they marry, not date.

I then recalled a conversation with Generically-Named-Male-Friend. He told me that within the first 5 minutes of meeting a girl, he  shuffles her into one of 4 categories: one night stand, short-term dating, long-term dating, friend. The “one night stand” category wasn’t a surprise. However, the 2 dating categories, short- versus long- term, were.

But despite these assessments/confessions, my questions remain. Is Generically-Named-Male-Friend an anomaly? Was that column really written by a woman whose girlfriends all tell her that every time her date goes AWOL? Was my friend’s mother’s comment based on a story her son wove when she asked him why he and I weren’t dating? Or, when it comes to girls, do guys use more of their northern brain than we give them credit for?

Fellas, enlighten us. Please.

The One Fingered Arm Stroke

There has to be a straight guy out there who can explain this one to me…

Last summer, I was in Halifax with my mother eating dinner in a hotel restaurant overlooking the harbor. How romantic. Our waiter was a young guy, I’d say not a day over 26, well-built with thick, jet-black hair, green eyes and a killer smile. He was stunning — waaaaay out of my league stunning. I couldn’t look at him at first because I was afraid I might start giggling. His demeanor gave away that he was new. He was formal, overly rehearsed and a bit uptight. Mum I been on the road for nearly 8 hours — we were in the mood to be anything but formal. It was a planned attacked on the handsome waiter. We were going to break him down, make him laugh, make him trip as he was reading the specials.

We won.

Eventually, I had him joining in on the jokes and lame puns (something about mussels and biceps?) and he was doubled over laughing. He actually did trip once as he was walking away. A glass of water hit the carpet. He was spending so much time at our table, someone had to come remind him he had orders waiting for other guests. For all of an hour, I believed I was charming.

And the part that needs explanation? A few minutes after he put down our main course, he came back with an unrequested second napkin. He knelt table-side and placed the napkin down on the table as he leaned in. “The first is for your body. This is for your hands.” As he got up, staring right at me, he ran his index finger up my arm.

Whoa. hold up. wait a minute. That was kinda sexy.

This was not the first time that had happened to me, and it turned out it wouldn’t be the last.  Not long ago, I was engaged in bit of banter with a guy I’d known casually as a co-worker. We had said our good-byes, but as we began to part ways, he turned back — he had one more question.  He moved closer and ran his finger up my arm as he confirmed my plans for Saturday. Huh!?

The first time I experienced the one-fingered arm stroke I was in a bar playing pool with a guy 15 years my senior.We’d never met, and I have no idea why I was playing with him and not the girlfriends who had come out with me. He was a bit tipsy and he followed the touch with a very, very direct invitation to go back to his place. Thankfully, the intentions of this arm stroke were entirely clear. The other two incidents? Sexually charged, but totally ambiguous.

I asked a girl friend of mine if she’d ever experienced the one-fingered arm touch. “No. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Maybe it’s because you have nice arms. You do have really toned arms.”

And here I thought I’d discovered the key that could unlock the secrets of men and women, first meetings and attraction, body language and touching. Apparently, I just have nice forearms.