A single woman I know owns an old home, set on a large lot, that is in almost constant need of repair. A severe thunderstorm recently ripped apart a huge limb from one of the many old trees in her yard, leaving half of the limb precariously dangling about three feet over the power line feeding into her neighbor’s home. The other half thudded heavily onto her roof, gutter and front porch.
My friend called Nashville Electric Service, but five days later, no one had showed. She didn’t have the money for a private contractor to come remove the limb. Understandably, her neighbor was growing increasingly concerned about his power line. As well, people from all over the block were dropping by to assess the situation. Unfortunately, none were offering any solutions.
My friend was beginning to feel anxious and helpless, a state of mind that was in stark contrast to her sense of herself as an independent, professional, can-do, ’90s-kind-of-woman. About the same time, a man she had recently begun seeing picked her up one evening and asked about the limb in the front yard. She assured him she was taking care of the situation.
Two days later, while talking on the telephone with a girlfriend about her limb problem, she heard a powerful roar of noise. Running to the door, she flew out onto the front porch. There, standing in the yard, next to the tree, dressed in T-shirt, blue jeans, ball cap, and work boots, with screeching chain saw in hand, was the man with whom she had begun spending time.
Still clutching the telephone, she relayed the scene to her friend.
“Oh my God,” the friend breathed enviously. “Foreplay....”
If you are scratching your head (or anything else) at that story, I’d guess you are a man. Contrary to what many of you think, we don’t hate you. We don’t dislike you. In fact, in most cases, we find you very endearing. You come in handy for tasks that we find unappealingcleaning out yucky guttersor challenging to our physical abilitieslike changing tires.
It’s just that at times, you are sohow do I put this nicelyobtuse when it comes to figuring out what we want. You just don’t get it. God knows why you don’t get it, because as you so often point out, women never stop talking about what they want. Obviously, you are not listening. Somehow you still don’t know what we want, and, adding insult to injury, you manage to blame us for your not knowing what it is that we want.
This leads us to the logical conclusion that you are uncaring, inconsiderate, and self-centered, a sentiment reinforced by taking a quick look at popular men’s and women’s magazines. The latter are chock-full of advice on how women can give men what they want: Six Weeks to Your Best Butt Ever! Meatloaf for Dinner! Plastic Surgery: New Advances in Breast Implants! Make Him Melt: Ten Ways To Turn Him On So He’ll Never Turn Off!
Men’s magazines, on the other hand, are full of advice on how men can get what men want: Building a Wine Cellar That Will Impress Your Friends. BMW vs. Mercedes. The Best Cigar For Your Money. Hot Beaches: Where Victoria’s Secret Shoots Its Lingerie Catalogues.
Far be it from me to speak for all womankind; I turned to the experts for advice on what we women want. The “League of Beleaguered Women” was organized (and I use that term very loosely) last fall in response to a particularly difficult period in the professional lives of four colleagues, much of the difficulty having to do with MEN. The joke is that anyone who knows us knows we are far from beleaguered, and, in fact, probably scare the pants off the men we allow to think are our bosses. Our meetings are held one Wednesday night a month (more if needed) at Seanachie Irish Pub, on Lower Broadway, where we drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and marvel at men’s cluelessness.
Here is a sample agenda from the June 24 meeting:
I. New Business
II. Old Business
III. Final Business
A. Call the cab
At the July meeting, I threw the “What Women Want” topic out to the group; we mulled the topic over our first beer.
First, we agreed on the practical. Separate bathrooms. Not that we don’t adore watching you shave, but we feel guilty taking up so much space with our silly toiletries.
Then, there’s the obvious: things you guys already know, but refuse to do anyway.
Call if you say you will. Let us know if you’re going to be late. Put the seat down. Ask for directions. Take out the trash. Pick up your socks. Say you’re sorry. Give us the remote. Take the baby. Slow down. Sleep on the wet spot.
We never get tired of hearing the following things: I like small breasts. Of course you’re not too fat. Plastic surgeryare you crazy? You sleep in today. That’s not your natural color? Take your time. Check please.
Thenmaybe it was that second pint of Seanachie Alewe softened up and shared something really special a man in our lives had done for us.
One told about the honeymoon her husband had planned, all by himself, to a 17th-century former monastery in Venezuela, where there was little else to do but eat, drink, ride horses, and get to know each other really well.
Another talked about the boyfriend who, on cold winter nights, used to draw her a hot bath, and, as she rose from the tub, would hand her a big towel he had warmed in the dryer. Sigh.
One man took her grandmother’s decrepit old rocker that had been stored and forgotten in the basement of their home, had the wood refinished and the seat recovered, then surprised her with it on Christmas morning.
There’s the husband who knows without asking when his wife has had a trying day and, when she gets home from work, hands her a glass of wine and suggests she relax on the sofa while he makes dinner.
And then, of course, there’s the man with the chain saw, who stepped in to save the day.
If you have been paying attention, you will notice a common thread running through these stories. The things that mean the most to us, from the really big thingslike planning exotic honeymoons to foreign countriesto the smaller oneslike presenting a warmed towel after a bathcome from you to us completely unbidden. You look into our eyes, or our souls, or our hearts, or our overwhelmed, under-helped, super-stressed, superwoman-kind-of-lives, and find the one thing we don’t dare ask for. And you give it to us.
Doing these things, just when we need them most, allows us to forgive all the times when you don’t call, put the seat down, pick up your socks, ask for directions, say you’re sorry, or take out the trash. These are the things that make our knees weak, and our hearts stop. These are the things that take our breath away.
What do women want? Women want you to take the time, and the care, and the effort to figure out just one thing we want without us having to tell you.
Why the concern for this Berry College? Is this some great Constitutional crises within
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