I worry sometimes that I single-handedly set the women’s movement back. Nothing too horrible of course, but I do sometimes unconsciously set out to kill the feminist ideal that we shouldn`t really care if somebody finds you unlovable.
The thing is I think I’m smart, engaging and honest. My closest friends would say that, although I`m technically what you would call feisty (a.k.a â€¦full of shit), I am also funny, well-informed, sensitive and financially independent. On occasion friends would also, I hope, describe me as loyal, compassionate and only mildly sarcastic.
I am a huge hit with middle-aged suburban mothers (including my own FPU); with maternal high school English teachers (who still use my setwork books as an example of the right way to do it); with waitrons, puppies, CEO`s (because I SO rock at what I do) and tea ladies. And occasionally, on a day that’s really looking up, a totally hip looking 17-year-old with considerable swag and the confidence of the perpetually young and fun will look at me in aweâ€¦because I just knew all the lyrics to the latest Missy Elliot track (it does take some skill. I would have preferred Simply Red or U2 any day). But I digressâ€¦
So, for the most part I am very comfortable with myself. With how I look, how I interact with people and generally where I find myself in my career, social, spiritual and financial standing. You get the general picture.
Despite all of this, there are days when I wake up and all I really want is for the boy I have a crush on to tell me I’m pretty. It’s stupid, I know. And vain. And completely ridiculous. But there’s something about inspiring uncontrollable, physical, hormonal, I-have-to-blurt-it-out-loud-because-I-can’t-hold-it-in-one-more-second irrationality in another human being (or at least being reminded that the object of your current affection finds you attractive) that makes you feel powerful. And wanted. Or, as an ex-flame once put it, “You’re so use to hearing you`re smart. I`m not going to tell you that you`re smart until I’ve told you you`re beautiful so many times that you`re sick of hearing it.”
Yes, yesâ€¦I know. The other things are more important. Depth of character, texture of your integrity, your kindness quotient, intelligence, sincerity, your passion for life (blah, blah). But, to the turquoise-plumed peacock that struts inside all of us, there also exists a desire, I think, to be desired, deemed irresistible, utterly lovable and then publicly claimed.
A few years ago I ran into a guy I had had a major (mutual) crush on in my first year of â€˜varsity. We never could get off the ground because I was essentially stubborn and wanted for him to muster the strength and courage to claim me publicly. I was not willing to sneak around. I wanted and have always wanted the men in my life to be strong and assertive about the feelings for me. Years later, when we met up again, he tried to stage an elaborate comeback. He did everything I ever wanted him to do and said everything I ever wanted him to say four years too late. And he still didn’t get it. It was in that moment, sitting in front of him on the couch in his apartment, that it occurred to me that despite an intense year spent with him at Varsity Rec, this was the first time he’d ever really seen me. It’s scary to realise you can invest in someone for so long and be left feeling like they don’t know the first thing about you. Like the fact that being straightforward and assertive is a powerful aphrodisiac on planet jean. Too little too late.
Point isâ€¦ I wonder sometimes how much of that played a hand in my past relationships. Because what woman doesn’t want to feel like a man is actually looking her straight in the eye and giving her his undivided attention. Or told she’s beautiful and smart and gorgeous and funny and sexy and sharp by a man so enamored he has virtually no control and no common sense.
It is transforming and intoxicating.
In those moments I would become the mythical, wildly exotic, green-eyed, seductress I’d always wanted to be; he would be my Marlboro man, my cowboy my perfectly masculine equal. His compliments – perfectly spaced, sized and delivered – hit the g-spot of my egotism with gentle precision.
It would be like being alone and drunk in my apartment, dancing in high heels in my underwear at 3-o’clock in the morning versus being sober and self-conscious, dancing at a family friend’s party at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon.
Todayâ€¦today I`m that waif who dances alone and drunk in my apartment. Today I feel pretty and powerful. And it`s silly how one small compliment can rock your world. Do I particularly care about the person who complimented me? I don`t know him enough to careâ€¦and there`s no chemistry. But that`s ok because, because just for today, he is my Marlboro Man.