Monday, January 15, 2018

Modern Love?

After the sex gone wrong story about Aziz Ansari, irony that this is the same man who wrote a book called Modern Romance, I listened to several critics weigh in on the confusion about what defines sexual harassment and abuse and of course rape and how it will be the real challenge when it comes to seeking resolution in the current state of #MeToo and #Time'sUp movements.  

If you watched the Oprah interview with the founders of Time's Up it is clear they have no idea on what they are planning to do, how to do it and who is in charge of making those decisions or determining a priority on how to administer let alone distribute funds collected in the course of its growth.  They just got a 1.5Million dollar check the other day thanks to Mark Wahlberg and there is more guilt money I am sure forthcoming in the weeks ahead.  But a leaderless movement will fall the way of the others that preceded it regardless of who are members and that too needs some thought before anyone moves forward.

The Ansari story I found repugnant and familiar.  Any woman who has had sex with a man that began as a consensual can find themselves in similar situations and in turn react and respond in equally confounding manners thanks to years of training and expectations that as women we are sure we must comply in which to save our life/retain or gain trust and in turn maintain or establish a relationship.  Yes that is a great start to a long lasting love affair, coercion, guilt and manipulation.  Well that works in the Church so hey why not.

I read this essay in the Modern Love section of the Times yesterday and thought of my job when I work with younger kids.  They often get into a such a state I have a hard time understanding them so I frequently find myself saying, "Use your words to tell me not your tears."  I have frequently in my adult life cry-talked where a partner has said, "I have no idea what you are saying?" and my response oddly becomes quite clear, "You never do" to resolve a disagreement.   It has a levity to it and often breaks a moment of tension.   Ah fall to a joke when all else fails.   It is why I am alone as I can no longer take anyone seriously and this however is not in a good way. Trust is earned and frankly that is one job no one is willing to take on as it would be hours before I would bother letting down my guard let alone my pants for a man today.   At times it makes one feel very alone and yes lonely.

But in all honesty few use their words and again where are men learning this bullshit? From women or from their mothers. The violence and sick shit I suspect comes from other men in those situations where the lying and bragging dominant the dialog versus truth when it comes to sex and women.  That is what defines rape culture an environment that supports, encourages and fosters falsehoods and protects members from truth and reality.   But it all starts at home women and ask yourself what are the messages and cues you are teaching your sons and in turn what contradictions and lies you are demonstrating?  Do as I say not as a do?

Finding a companion is not easy and it is part luck and part fortitude or just well being in the right place at the right time.  Making it work however is another story.  I have tried the online sites and personal ads to find a hook up, a date or even a conversation and I have failed all but once with that and I realize that loneliness and desperation do not make a great ice breaker.  I came of age in the time before the apps and swiping one right versus left to make the call who gets the call and I don't see any of this any different than the matching of fish frankly so why pretend otherwise.

I read this weekend the story of perhaps the most idiotic woman I have ever read about in my life of those stories where lonely hearts find the one they think is the one and it was so bizarre it was a LA Times magazine and podcast called Dirty John.   It was fascinating in that train wreck way those often are.    I am not sure what the woman was at one point thinking this penis attached to a body was that great as it was clear she needed deep therapy and counseling long before this odyssey began but it was a hell of a story. 

So when the discussion about Ansari took place this morning on the news shows the issue of education, training and re-learning about social cues, verbal insists and of course communication that will stop much of this before it begins or ends the same way the Ansari story did - in public.

What I also want to point out again is that women raise men.  In the story about Dirty John you see a family full of problems when it comes to male/female relationships and in turn it becomes almost a legacy that sends a strong message to the women in the family that men can do whatever they want to a woman as forgiveness is a much better weapon than a gun or any other means of protecting oneself from violence.  Thank God one did not learn that lesson or she would have found herself the victim as her Aunt had been a decade earlier.   I have never read anything as tragic as this family and its history of domestic violence but it did say that women are really shitty at getting the fact that men are not good for you when they are not good for you.

I have no consistent patterns when it comes to men and in turn it took only one man who drugged men, propelled me behind a car after filling me with enough booze to also kill me and then walked away from the wreckage telling the man who did find me and was calling 911, "She's still breathing" then walking into the night that I no longer needed a man in my life.  I knew that it was a Gay man who found me and when we finally met I was relieved as it was Gay men who brought me home from the hospital on my birth it would be a gay man who ensure that I would stay alive when needed.  What is truly appalling it was my two male Attorney's when I found the witness statement in the Police reports (which they overlooked) and in turn commented that my date "Shar" could have killed me that they were resistant to that description.  No they were sure he was just afraid.  Really? Then why not stay behind, talk to the Police about what happened and why when he was called by the hospital that night (as he was the last text on my phone they traced) or to the follow up calls respond?  Really, he wanted to help me and do the right thing?  No.  No he didn't.  And my two Attorneys, Ted Vosk and Kevin Trombold, never once asked for a court order to enable Verizon to trace the calls and texts and find the owner of the phone number.   So not only did Shar walk away, Vosk and Trombold walked away from the obligation to their client to defend and support me.  As long as the check cleared that was all they cared about.   Vosk no longer practices law in Seattle and ironically works on behalf of domestic violence victims and assault of women in Alaska while Trombold still practices his version of public defender law only charging clients for the privilege.

As I read the essay below authored by a millennial, the ones who are sure changing the patterns and the reality of America, I laughed as there is nothing in that story that is new or surprising.  A woman wants sex, she pretends that is all she wants, but takes him to her home, allows him to stay and then spends a day with him believing that it will be different than the times before.  The words used are the same, the promises and the lies are all the same as those that were before but this time its different.  No, not it is not. 

My Mother used to say,  "Take them to a hotel room don't exchange last names, get it done and get out before morning."   She was right.

For Best Hookup Results, Use Your Words, O.K.?

Modern Love

JAN. 12, 2018

I had invited him over only for sex, so when I woke the next morning to the sight of him putting on his pants, I said, “Do you need me to walk you out?”

“No, I’m just going to use the bathroom,” he said. “I’d like to stay, if that’s O.K.”

And it was. So he stayed for the rest of the day, never more than a few inches from me. We left the room only to use the bathroom or to shuffle to the kitchen for snacks. Meanwhile, my roommates laughed, gossiping about my “sexcapade with the cute guy from Tinder.”

“I think you’re the girl of my dreams,” he said. “I can’t believe we met on Tinder.”

I had never been the girl of anyone’s dreams — not even my own. I always imagined the quintessential girl of men’s dreams to be taller than me, thinner, more poised and blond. But my lover insisted, and we lounged on top of each other until late in the afternoon.

Later, I said, “Do you usually have sex with girls the night you meet them?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “Why, do I come off as a slut?”

I laughed nervously. “Of course not.”

Finally, he answered: “Not really, no. I mean, I wouldn’t turn sex down, but I wouldn’t go looking for it, either.”

After a minute, I asked, “Do I come off as a slut?”

His voice softened. He wrapped his arms tighter around me. “No, not at all. You actually come off as a lady.”

Maybe he wanted it to sound like a compliment, but my doubts about his sincerity made it feel more like a blow. I wondered if he was lying to make me feel better or to ensure more sex later.

As a child, I was always told, “Use your words” — shorthand for saying precisely what I mean and what I expect from people. As an adult, I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t very good at using their words, especially before and after hookups. Few ever seem to say precisely what they mean or what they expect.

Regardless, I smiled and said, “Really? Thank you.” I kissed him on the cheek, the temple, the forehead. “And you come off as a gentleman.”

And he did. But I secretly hoped that he was the same as me, that his chest also simmered with hidden indiscretions, and that the speed with which we slept together was as typical for him as it was for me. Because if it wasn’t, I would have to wonder if, upon discovering the truth, he would recoil. I would have to wonder if he would think of me as dirty or morally deficient, even though he already said he found me gentle.

“Wow, you’ve got a beautiful smile,” he said, idly stroking my waist, my stomach, my hips, my thighs. “You’re really the full package.”

“You don’t have to say that.”

“I know I don’t,” he said. “But I mean it.”

He told me I was smart, funny, creative. “You’ve got good karma, Gab,” he said.

I said, “You see things in me I didn’t know were visible.”

I don’t know why I fell for it, especially when I hadn’t even gone looking for it. For some reason I’ve always been susceptible to thinking my life would be vastly improved by the solution to a single problem. In high school, I thought, “It will all get better when the braces come off,” or “when my skin clears up” or “when I go to college.”

And now, older and supposedly wiser, I find myself thinking it will all get better when I find romance. When I have a man who wants me despite how fallible, loud or political I can be. Someone who, with a kiss, can snap me out of my self-pitying reverie. I think about how long I’ve been ready to find the beauty in another human being, to caress the scars of someone as flawed as me and to feel that person reciprocate.

That night I hadn’t been looking for romance, but my two-time lover embedded himself in my consciousness when he told me I was the girl of his dreams, and I can’t help but think how cruel that was, considering how it all turned out. Our goodbye was a kiss on the mouth and a wink as he stepped off the subway.

He had grinned and said, “I’ll see you later,” but he never saw me again. I have since learned that “later” means the same thing it did when I was a child and wanted to do something extravagant: It means “I don’t want to” or “If I feel like it.”

Now I’m told, “You only like him because he flattered you,” and “Good sex can trick you into thinking you like anyone.”

“What did you expect, Gab?” my friend said. “You can’t form a connection with somebody that fast.”

I shrugged. “I didn’t mean to. This felt different.”

She sighed. “Your problem is that you jump into things too quickly.”

“O.K. …”

I thought there must be something terribly, medically wrong with me if I could so badly misinterpret a situation. I wanted to see a doctor. I wanted a diagnosis. I wanted to ask my lover if he had found himself disappointed, if I wasn’t who he wanted me to be.

My friends tell me I need to love myself. I’m told this will make my life better, much in the way braces and clear skin were supposed to make me beautiful. When I ask how to do this, my friends become philosophers and say, “You need to find it within yourself.” Their advice is so abstract that I wonder if they, too, have searched and cannot find it.

How do I search within myself? I imagine reaching down my throat and rummaging until I find some bright little mass labeled “self-love.” It has been hiding, perhaps behind some bothersome organ or within the folds of a stubborn muscle. And when I find this magical panacea, I will say, “Oh, there you are. Where have you been all this time?” And I will set it back inside of me, this time in the correct place.

My question is: How will I know when I have found this thing that I never realized I lost, and what will happen when I do?

But I don’t really think my problem is a lack of self-love. I enjoy sex for its own sake every bit as much as a man does, and I’m honest about that. What confuses matters is all this sweet talk, followed by the vanishing act.

“Ghosting is the most cowardly way to end a relationship,” I once said to a male friend in a room with a guy who had ghosted me years before.

“Would you really rather someone tell you to your face that they don’t have feelings for you?” my friend said.

“I’d rather have that than be made to feel like an idiot,” I said.

Not too long after, a man I slept with told me I was beautiful while we were walking to my apartment in the middle of the night. He caressed the back of my hand with his thumb and smiled, but it meant nothing — under the orange glow of streetlights, I knew, even broken glass looks stunning.

“I feel so lucky right now,” he said. “I can’t believe a girl like you would give me the time of day.”

I texted him the next week, but he never responded. Annoyed, I noted that I wouldn’t even have thought to text him if he hadn’t blanketed me with such gratuitous flattery.

And then my two-time lover called me a lady. He added me on Facebook and told me to keep in touch. He said my skin was soft and my smile was beautiful and he couldn’t believe he had found someone like me.

He said, “I’m never mean to girls.”

I smiled. “So you’re a self-proclaimed nice guy?”

“Yes. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing,” I said, draping my leg over both of his. He slid his arm beneath my head like a pillow. “But I don’t want a guy to be nice to me just because he feels obligated to, you know? I want him to be nice because he means it.”

“That makes sense,” he said, tangling a hand in my hair and kissing me on the forehead.

I don’t wander into casual sex expecting it to yield a relationship. I have never understood why some guys seem to think flattery is the key to a bedroom they’ve already been welcomed into. They say they would love to date me and then wonder why, the next day, I think they want to date me.

I neither require the flattery nor deserve the ghosting. With hookups there’s no need to be mean — just say what you mean. Use your words.

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