Walter Mencken 2 p.m., Aug. 22
- Community Blog
Valentine's Day? Bah! Humbug!
Just noticed from an online photo that you can still get those little heart-shaped candies with the lame messages on them. They taste kind of like Pepto Bismal tablets, and back in the '60s at Henry Clay Elementary School--my Alma Mater--kids used to give them to each other along with a card for every other kid in your class, even if you didn't like every kid in your class. It was the done thing: play nice and pass along some germs at the height of the cold and flu season.
Maybe kids still do that; I don't really know or care. Valentine's Day is one holiday I outgrew many decades ago. I lived in Japan for a time, and of course it's another one of those Western holidays they have to twist around to make "Japanese." There, the women give little chocolates to men they like. In all my years there, I think I accumulated two or three.
You see, women don't like me... At least, they don't like me in THAT way. I think they make, in general, crummy bosses and leaders, because they tend to take everything personally and base decisions on emotion more than facts. By and large, they possess the financial management skills of a drunken sailor. With only slightly less deadly regularity, they're also lousy judges of character and--by the looks of the divorce rate--only getting lousier at it... which might be the reason so many of them don't like me.
On the other hand, I work with quite a number of women, most of whom are safely married. We get along pretty well, and even go out for the occasional afterwork drink in a small group. There isn't the slightest hint of romantic tension, because we're just dealing with each other as colleagues and everyone except myself goes home afterwards to kids and spouse. As colleagues they're fine, because we work independently and there just isn't much of anything to not like about our limited interactions.
The minute "romance" skulks on the perimeter of the equation, though, women and I are at endless loggerheads. Maybe I never grew up or maybe I'm just the only sane person left in the world, but for me sex has always been more a necessity like bathing or eating than an emotional experience. At best, it's like exchanging Christmas presents; for a mature adult the giving is as nice as the getting. It's pleasurable in the way a well-earned hot shower or an ice cream cone is pleasurable... and I've never been one to stick to plain vanilla.
Every man keeps count of his partners--he's lying if he says he doesn't--and I'd need almost all of my fingers and toes for that. Inevitably though, a woman either wonders why I'd express interest in seeing her again, or more commonly and troublesome, she wonders why I didn't take the experience as seriously as she did. This can drag on for months, or in a few cases years, but the predictable end to the scenario, whatever the particulars, is an upset woman. Add to this all the ones who just don't seem to like me for whatever reason and all the ones who presume I'm hitting on them when I'm just trying to be cordial in a social situation, and you get the me that I am today.
Most women friends seem to think I have no interest in sex at all; maybe that's why I get along with them as friends. I try to keep things that way, because any time I show the slightest romantic inclination it turns a nice pleasant time into a complication. They might even sorta-kinda want to go along with it, but women have a way of worrying about things whether or not there's anything to actually worry about.
I've observed men who treat women like crap, are even physically abusive. The women scream and cry and leave, then generally come back. A time or two one will approach me and ask me to tell the man--a friend or acquaintance of mine--that she loves him, and I shake my head in wonder. In my case, on the rare occasions I have anything at all going with a woman, I just have to belch too loudly, laugh at the wrong time, or express minor irritation at some little thing she's doing and she's out the door forever and ever.
Once in awhile I'll meet young couples while camping or traveling. The man is often sociable or even friendly with me, so the woman goes along with things. I can come across as an affable guy, and often I genuinely enjoy the company and the temporary camaraderie. Nonetheless, I often note that the guy is considerably less accomplished than I am and not particularly good looking, while the woman is quite attractive. It makes me wonder why the hell he has her, and I have no one.
Actually, while traveling around I occasionally get a little glimpse into possible reasons why. My vehicles are always immaculately maintained and my stuff is always orderly and organized. I like it that way, but after a couple of weeks on the road I miss my little condo in the college area. It's not fancy, but it's filled with intriguing souvenirs of my life experiences. It has a beanbag chair and a futon laid out on a seagrass floor. I wash my clothes in the kitchen sink and hang them from a couple of those plastic contraptions you see in Asian countries. Once in awhile for big items I'll go down to the laundromat, but generally I feel that washing my clothes by hand builds character.
Women hate that kind of thing. Nearly everything about the way I live seems to say, "I've got what I want and I'm happy with it." I don't have many aspirations or long-term goals, and the observable stuff I carry around with me, in total, is about equal in value to what a dentist makes in a couple of weeks. Through good careful investing, I own a lot of real estate and don't really have to work, but most women never get as far as finding that out. They see a guy who lives simply and works a few hours a week part-time in a field dominated by women, then paint a big "LOSER" on his forehead and move on.
Though I've consoled myself to it just being the inexplicable Way Things Are, I've never understood that female tendency toward superficiality any more than I understand their innate exhibitionism. Men generally don't really care what they wear, as long as it's appropriate to the weather and doesn't get them arrested for indecent exposure. Women, on the other hand, are obsessed with how they look and whether or not it will make men admire them and other women envy them. Whenever I take note and look, though, they seem resentful or at least scornful of it. As a result, I generally don't look. Then they get resentful or scornful about THAT!
So, please don't hate me for not playing the game. I've reached that nirvana in my life where I just don't give a shit anymore. My only concession to the Game of Love nowadays is that I can get quite irritated about Valentine's Day. Take a few of those little heart-shaped candies and stick 'em up your arse for me while you're out with your date this Thursday. I don't really mean it that mean-spiritedly, but you get my drift.