Latest 3 Things

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

3 Ladies' Laments

I’ve always said that I’m more a lover than a fighter - but most of those who know me well know that’s really more wishful thinking than anything else. I have a lot more fight in me than I sometimes know what to do with. As a matter of course, this colors everything from my writing to my personal demeanor, from my practice to my personal life. And so when it comes to the opposite sex, while there can be no doubt that I love the ladies - looking on the group as a whole with a mixture of wonder and curiosity - I’m also no more frequently disappointed, disgusted and otherwise disenchanted by any other group of people. So while I would freely admit that women are more intelligent, more mature, and generally more socially aware than us men, it makes those instances where they fail to live up to these obvious advantages that much more shocking and terrible. And so, in the hopes that one of my many lovely female readers can offer me some kind of explanation, here are 3 inexplicable things that women do:

1. Foot Show. There was a time when I truly did not understand that almost genetic fascination that women have with shoes. To my adolescent mind, the variety and volume of footwear that most women coveted seemed useless at best and maddeningly wasteful at worst. But as I grew, I started to get it, and ultimately came to appreciate how much more fantastic a woman could look in the right pair of shoes. Unfortunately, as magic as they might seem, there is nothing in a great pair of shoes that change the way your feet look, and like certain other fashions that are more privilege than right (e.g. miniskirts, bare midriffs and tight jeans) just because you can display your bare feet to the world doesn’t mean that you should. Aside from a few fetishists amongst us, I think we can all agree that the average foot isn’t the most appealing thing. And come on, you know if you’ve got the kind of feet that no one really needs to see. But if you don’t, here are a few simple tests: if your toes point in five different directions, if your heel looks like an overcooked biscuit, if your toes look like they’re grabbing something when they’re not, or if you’re more than twenty pounds overweight - you need to avoid flip-flops, sandals, or any other kind of footwear that’s going to kill the appetite and faith in humanity of anyone unfortunate enough to glance down at your feet. I mean, seriously, it’s cool if you’re big - but when you’re big, the part of you that suffers the most is the last part of you that I want see flaunted in front of me. Do us all a favor and make sure that great pair of shoes you’re wearing out are actually shoes.

2. Aging Gracelessly. Look, it happens to the best of us. We’re getting older. And while I can appreciate better than most, the want - the need - to fight it every step of the way, I also appreciate the value of those who wear their age well. I’ve said many times that while I’d love to have back some of the superpowers of youth that I’ve lost over the years, I definitely wouldn’t trade all the wisdom and grace I’ve gotten in exchange to have them back. Besides, no matter what mass media tells you about the ideal woman being 22 years old, I can personally vouch for that being a load of hooey. All the little things that make a girl a woman are usually found long after the eat-what-you-want days of youth - the way she walks, talks, dresses and even smiles are carefully crafted over years, not gleaned from an issues of Cosmo. But the one thing a grown woman can screw up is not gracefully accepting this fact. Lying about your age is just plain stupid. A year or two doesn’t make that much difference, and anything more than that will be as obvious as the skin on the back of your hands. And dressing like you’re 25 when you’re 35 is pathetic and silly. Which is not to say that you can’t show a little skin, be a lot sexy, or just plain cute - but the word you’re looking for is elegance and you can’t locate it in Forever 21, Wet Seal or Abercrombie. If you’re over 30 and shopping in a place like that, you’d better be with your niece/daughter.

3. Kung Fu Pandering. Women are, as a rule, notoriously good BS detectors. After all, they don’t call it “women’s intuition” without good reason. I’ve stood in front of many a young lady who I was quite certain looked right through to the heart of me. It seems that there is just something in the female DNA that allows for a nearly effortless perception into the motivation behind almost anything. Given all of that, I am utterly baffled by the manner of media that women allow to be peddled to them. And not only do they fall victim to this shameless pandering, on many occasions they actually defend it. Take, for example, the formulaic “chick flick” where an impossibly good-looking, wealthy, humorous and intelligent man falls for the girl next door, sweeping her off her feet, and whisking her away to a storybook life of love and happiness. Despite the fact that these stories couldn’t be any less realistic if they were animated, women flock to these screenings in droves, cry when they’re supposed to, and walk out of the theater lamenting that their man isn’t anything like that. Even worse, grown women - apparently unfulfilled by the offerings of the modern adult romance genre - have adopted a poorly-written young adult offering about transparently gay vampires and werewolves seducing teenage girls as a romantic zeitgeist. And worse yet, I hear women defending this mindless smut as vigorously as they do equality in the workplace and defense against domestic violence. How can it be that women’s intuition seems to be so finely tuned on one hand to reality and yet completely ineffective against fiction?

* * *

For the most part, I’m a big fan of the enigmatic nature of women. It is, after all, that unsolvable mystery which provides us with the lifetime adventure of getting to know one of them, and the beautiful frustration of falling in love. But some mysteries, I suspect, are better off solved, explained or debunked. As we’ve become accustomed to a nearly ubiquitous equality of the sexes, we’ve also become wary of ever leveling any gender-wide criticism - lest we be cast out as a holdover from a time since past. To avoiding this type of criticism against women, men keep quiet, and women are left to police themselves; fixing the problems from the inside out. After all, there can be no protests of “you just don’t understand” when the trigger man behind both barrels of aspersion isn’t a man at all. And so when the familiar lament of women being their own worst critics is raised, perhaps it isn't the problem we’ve located - but rather, the solution.


Jen and Tonic said...

“…if your heel looks like an overcooked biscuit…” Dear Lord, that made me laugh SO HARD. I knew exactly what you were talking about.

I feel really badly when I see a woman who is trying to be 20 again. Perhaps it is because none of my female role models ever freaked out over age, but it just isn’t a big deal to me. I feel so much more confident and self-assured than I did when I was 20. Sure, I could get away with wearing an entirely different wardrobe, and had amazing skin, but I didn’t “own” that. My clothes wore me, and I was so self-conscious I covered my unbelievable skin (I could KICK myself) with loads of makeup. Age is beautiful if you know how to work the hell out of it like Helen Mirren or Sophia Lauren do.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Rom-Com crap that is coming out of Hollywood these days.

As always, amazing piece!

Anonymous said...

So in the intrest of answering one at a time I will start with the shoe fettish. Most women are at some point in there life unhappy or self conscience about their weight. Shoes are a guilt free shopping experience guaranteed to brighten the darkest day!!!
Dressing your age hah!! I love abercrombie they have cute hoodies and t-shirts. I think that buying the correct size is more or important or should be more of a priority then the style and age. Now granted there are some people that should just not wear certain things and others that should be outlawed all
As far as lamenting over fairytales that almost never come true I agree. As a mom I hope that I teach my kids the difference between fiction and reality. I also hope that they learn that there is more to a loving relationship then a white horse and a handsome or pretty face. Perspective is everything and what you teach your children will shape the next generations. Don't set your kids up for disappointment and failure.

Kristina said...

Feet... I guess I somewhat agree, then again, I keep leaning towards: if you don't like it, don't look! :)

Aging Gracefully can kiss my ass! However, I hope that even if I were to buy something in those places (which I usually don't because it 1. doesn't fit right and 2. is more expensive than it is worth) that I still look fabulous, turn heads and make people THINK i'm younger than I am (although I don't volunteer it, I will own up to my age).
I LOVE mindless SMUT! :)
Ugh, he used the "u" word.

Ferrari said...

1. People, on average, have very little self-awareness about their appearance. Feet are no exception.

2. I could've sworn you've told me I don't need to dress my age. ;)

3. There's a real difference between detecting a human's (read: man's) shadiness based on interpersonal interaction, on the one hand, and jettisoning all hope that a well marketed romantic story could perhaps come true in real life. I don't care for those movies, but I will admit that a crafted pie-in-the-sky fairytale is much easier to buy into that an ineptly proffered load of crap from a fellow human who is operating in a web of deceit before your very eyes.
And in any case, the sad truth is that plenty of women actually ignore their intuition (if they have any in the first place) in real life just as often as the ignore reality when assessing a fictional movie. How many girls do you know who have continued to look the other way and believe (or try to believe) the lies they're being fed? That's right: like, a zillion.

Side note: loose use of the term "ladies" here, particularly in regards to the fashion horrors.

OZ101 said...

So GLAD TO SEE YOU BACK! I was just about to shoot you an email asking where you've been! The foot thing is something that has been bothering me since before I can remember. Although I have no foot fetish I do appreciate a nice pair of feet and would never be able to stay with a woman that had ugly feet, especially if they flaunted them with open toed shoes. Even saying open toed shoes makes me feel sick. I would take a woman with a goiter on the side of her neck before I would continue to date a woman with nasty feet.

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