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50 Shades of … Shame …

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christian and ana

Tsk tsk Christian Grey!

Are you serious? You’re showing your face in public again with some sort of boastful, manly pride?

Here we are once more, back in the news with a Valentine’s Day release of the tawdry film 50 Shades of Grey.

Our book-inspired imaginations can finally relax now that we can gaze in stunning Technicolor at your little fantasy world of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Oops … my apologies Christian, you’d prefer that we call it BDSM to dress it up pretty and sound sensuously sexy.

…………………………………….

I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you.”

…………………………………….

And you, Anastasia Steel?

Ana, you will look gorgeously enticing and naive and innocent, occasionally displaying some subtle signs of estrogen-strength that will float the illusion that dominance by and submission to another… any other … is really quite empowering, somehow acceptable, yes, even dreamily romantic.

Oh Ana, get thee to thy shrink!

Anyway 50 Shades … Congratulations.

50-Shades-of-Grey-Movie

It will be a colossal smash box office event. It will.

Millions of women with submissive stars floating in their wide, moony eyes will drag their gal pals, maybe even boyfriends and husbands to the event of the year.

The sequels will be in filming mode before you can snap a whip on a woman’s ass and “playrooms” will fill with nouveau riche moviemakers sporting huge smiles.

And me? Well, I’ll still be scratching my head at the hypocrisy of what women want in this world; and also the men who believe that objectification and dominance over women is just fine, thank you very much.

In a way, 50 Shades transports me through time and history … the story’s insinuation that men can sit back and assume a controlling, dominant role, well, it takes me back 150 years to the plantation porch – back to the good old days of Lincoln and slavery and the quaint notion that having a master/servant relationship is tolerable in any sort of sane world.

…………………………………….

I want you sore, baby,” he murmurs, and he continues his sweet, leisurely torment, backward, forward. “Every time you move tomorrow, I want you to be reminded that I’ve been here. Only me. You are mine.”

…………………………………….

Almost 3 years ago I wrote a post expressing my disappointment in current-day liberated women who flocked in huge numbers to read the BDSM mega-hit 50 Shades of Grey.  Well … have I softened on my stance over that time you ask? Definitely… NO…

https://lwgsummerland.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/50-shades-of-green/

It clearly taps into a large female segment who tingle to an interior women’s world that is beyond my understanding.

Obviously, I can’t claim that 100 million readers are all mistaken in their admiration and might I say –  desire –  for a sexual fantasy like this.

We all have interior domains that thrive inside – worlds of bizarre and untold fantasy that we would never want the rest of society to be aware of. I’ll cop to guilt on many fronts where fantasy of various makes and models thrive. But never a fantasy that places someone in a lowly, denigrated position …

A Toronto Star article this week made this point: “ … it’s not the BDSM that has Joe-Anne Dusel, provincial co-ordinator with the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan, worried.

“The elements of isolation and humiliation that go on outside of the bedroom are serious red flags,” Dusel said, noting that in the book, Grey tracks Steele’s cellphone, follows her to work, threatens her and isolates her from her family and friends.

“These are the tactics that the women who walk through our doors report on a daily basis they are experiencing in our own lives,” Walker said.”

We read the daily news and take in the dark, disturbing stories of Jian Ghomeshi, and Bill Cosby, and Ray Rice, and Chris Brown, and Charlie Sheen and we shake our heads saying “tsk, tsk”. And then paradoxically, we fill the local theatres to watch it acted it out as a desirable fantasy. Huh????

The book’s author E.L. James has long defended her books against accusations they promote violence.

But you know what? I don’t blame Ms. James for her book or the characterizations that are portrayed.

I don’t “blame” anyone.

It merely tells me that despite ALL of the strides that Western civilization has made in terms of gender equality and respect, there is still a huge number of those – both men AND women – who believe, or at least fantasize about a world where men can exercise total control over women.

 

… leaving me wanting, unzipping his fly, and pushing me down onto the couch so he’s lying on top of me.
“Hands on your head,” he commands through gritted teeth as he kneels up, forcing my legs wider…
“We don’t have long. This will be quick, and it’s for me, not you. Do you understand?
Don’t come, or I will spank you,” he says through clenched teeth.”

And those same women will sensuously sigh and raptly eat it up with delighted visions of denigration. Denigration at the hands of a handsome muscled hunk that treats them like a spent cigar butt on the street… enjoying a puff or two… but believing that it’s really just someone else’s trash.

It just leaves me sad…

oneshadeofgrey

50 Shades Shelters

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I Have Bagina Envy …

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Boy did we get it wrong. 

Who is this WE I’m talking about?

MEN.

little girl and underwear display

 

All these many Freudian decades we thought that women suffered the slings and arrows of PENIS ENVY. Ha!

It’s difficult for me to say this, but the painful non-patriarchal truth is that I, and most men actually suffer from BAGINA envy (see, it’s so difficult and painful that I can’t even say the real word!) … the Grandest of All Canyons.

OK, it’s probably not envy so much as worship. It’s like the control centre of our universe. We always thought that Captain Kirk (Penis) was at the helm of the Starship Enterprise, but really, all along it was Commander Uhura (Bagina), the Communications Officer.

UhuraTellsFerrisKirk

Yup, the Bagina is in charge…

We can’t help it. We just can’t help it.

It’s not a conscious choice where we men sit ourselves down at the conference table one morning and say, “Today I shall lay myself at the blessed altar of the bagina.” Unh-uh. Some joker of a mind programmer inserted a viral chunk of code in our heads that dictates, “you must have the Bagina, the more the better”.

There’s a ton of science behind it all.

Many have addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, race horses (for betting, not carnal relations) … these are isolated, one-or-two-off dependencies for select individuals. ALL heterosexual men have an addiction to the big V, bar none. Why are porn websites so popular?… yup, worship of the bagina.

But are women as beholden to the phallic member of their male brethren?

By the popularity of BDSM literature like 50 Shades of Grey, you might be tempted to think so. But really I think that women are more attracted to the romance and desire inherent in the stories … a penis just happens to be involved – perhaps this is one more instance where a man is incidental to the true lusty lure.

Women say that men don’t understand them, which is probably true. Of course it works the other way around as well. Just as Men Are From Mars and Women From Venus, women don’t necessarily understand the primal sexual urge that propels the male head(s).

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The appeal of visual porn for men and written erotica for women reveals the differences between the needs of the two genders. Men are viscerally turned on by the mere sight of female skin – foreplay be damned – show us a bagina, and we’re 95% of the way to steamy liftoff.

Women say “hold on … talk to me, hold me, tell me I’m desirable, touch me all over, not just on the naughty bits. Let’s make this performance a full-length feature, not just a 30 second commercial break.” 

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Women know the formidable power that resides in their nether regions. Men have guns and swords and big bicep muscles for weapons. Women carry an arsenal that’s far different. They wield a softer, furrier form of authority that they carry with them at all times and can never set down or misplace. Men fear, yet yearn for it more than they fear or covet the sword.

…………………………..

To be in possession of a bagina confers automatic membership to an exclusive club, no boys allowed.

It’s a whole secret organization, a club for bagina owners, like the Freemasons or the Knights of Pythias (what the hell is a Knight of Pythias anyway? … is there some connection to urine worship here?)

There are pluses and minuses to Bagina Club membership, but the real bottom line of the clique is that its members secretly rule the world, a sort of  The DaVinci Code.

vagina-club

Men have no Penile Club to belong to where they share genital inside information with their comrades … no “I’ve got penile cramps”… no, “I’m a week late”, no, “is it hot in here, or am I just having a hot flash?”. NOPE, nothin’.

Women share the mystery and glory of their private parts as cooperative partners with other women. They carry spare tampons and pads for those stranded in distress. They nod compassionately and offer Midol to those in cramped discomfort. They visit restrooms (something they call “Powder Rooms”) together.

The closest men come to this clubby sort of atmosphere resides in the urinal line-up where we huddle in straight lines, hand-on-member, looking bored into a cold, tiled wall 6 inches from our nose … sure, 6 inches is really more like 3 inches, but we boys have difficulty determining true length. Talking is frowned upon while urinating because it just feels too intimate to be chatting to another guy when you have a penis in your hand.

Yes, to men, the bagina – and its club – are mysterious. The bagina is, like the Wizard of Oz, hidden behind a lacy curtain and all powerful.

Here are some of the features, tenets, advantages, and disadvantages of belonging to the BAGINA CLUB. I can’t know them all because I don’t have a membership card to the coven of adherents (and obviously never will):

  1. Women have monthly menstruation … until they don’t, then another set of complications arises.
  2. Women have hysterectomies – this is the easy way out of the complications mentioned above.
  3. The bagina doesn’t protrude like a pistol when excited.
  4. Women need options: Birth control pill, the ring, IUD’s, hormone shots, sponges, diaphragms, even female condoms. It’s like a shoe closet for the bagina.
  5. There are whole aisles of product set aside in supermarkets for the care, scent and maintenance of the bagina … no penis aisles. OK, one shelf of condoms, but men don’t really want to use the product, so who is it really for?
  6. There are special spa treatments for the bagina… Brazilian waxing, bikini waxing, sugaring, threading, bidet rinsing.
  7. Sexual performance isn’t complicated … the emergency backup method is a bottle of lube, and if it’s still there in four hours, you don’t have to consult a physician.  You just wash it off.
  8. Cutesy names: Peach Pit – Velvet Office – Temperamental Tunnel –  Garden of Eden –  Pride Lands –  Love Cushion –  Nappy Dugout –  Kitty Kat –  Mystical Fold –  Pandora’s Pink Box – Box Office

So for all the men who have derogatory comments about the one place they are constantly, actively trying to enter, and for all the ladies who are the gatekeepers of such an exclusive location, listen up.

I think we can all agree that women are not going to give up the “pit of power” anytime soon. So let’s shelve the Freudian pretense that women envy and want what we have and accept that girls have a more desirable “Playhouse” than boys.

The consolation? We boys still have control over the power tools  – at least the ones that reside outside the bedroom – the TV remote and the BBQ.

What more could we want?

Yes, you are the king here, and THIS is as good as it gets!

Yes, you are the king here, and THIS is as good as it gets!

Your Castration Awaits!…8 Reasons Women Will Dominate Men in the 21st Century

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I’m taking this week to recharge my writing chops, so for the first time, I thought I’d re-post an earlier blog post. This is my most viewed post ever from February 2013.

The King is dead… long live the Queen!

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I’m prepared for the inevitable…are you? Patriarchy is dying…the secret is coming out, and you can say you heard it here first!

…and “I am woman, hear me roar” runs through my Helen Reddy-filled mind…

Helen reddy

The start of the Information Age was the beginning of the end for male domination in western society.

I and my male cohorts are tumbling, tumbling in slow motion down the slippery mountainous slope. Men have “ruled” since before the biblical sighting of the Star of Bethlehem over Jerusalem 2,000 years ago…now, women are the new western Tsars and are going to rule the world.

The golden age of might over right that celebrated physical strength and brawn and ability to dominate by force has come to an end for us boys. Society, business, and government are now ruled by intellect, drive, social acuity, and perseverance — all things that women excel at.

Today, I work with a female boss in my lab (in years gone by I might have said “under a female boss” and snickered with my male comrades) who is a better corporate leader than most men I’ve worked for over the past 30 years or so.

Is it because she’s a woman? Yes and No.

I’ve worked for bitchy tyrannical messes of female overlording that were ball busters. But in most instances, women are more supportive and constructive in managing their charges. There are exceptions to every rule, but as a rule of thumb, women make better bosses.

To win in the world up until 25 years ago you only needed your fists and a loud voice, or a sword or a gun and you would win the game, whatever the game. How did we men do it?

Take over government? Send in 5,000 bulky warriors or blast some cannons at the parliament.

Succeed as CEO? Knock back the gin martinis and go to the strip bars with the rest of the boys in charge of the company.

A few signposts of the future:

  • There are more women Canadian premiers than men today.
  • Hillary Clinton and Condaleezza Rice and Angela Merkel are just the tip of the imposing iceberg preparing to sink the manly Titanic cruising along. The following countries have women Presidents or Prime ministers: Thailand, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Liberia, Australia, Bangladesh, Iceland, Costa Rica, Finland, Trinidad and Tobago, Lithuania, Slovakia, Denmark, South Korea, and Malawi.
  • Major corporations like YAHOO, PEPSI, KRAFT, XEROX, ARCHERS DANIEL MIDLAND, AVON, DUPONT are all run by women.

Thailand PM

Women in charge is a good thing for the health of the world.

Despite the peccadillos of Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, and Paris Hilton…women have begun taking the reins and making the world over. And it will be a more peaceful, environmentally friendly, and orderly place.

The ship of patriarchy is now a leaky sinking hulk which is slowly going down and will not likely rise again except to be dredged from the murky depths someday to be placed in a museum and be marveled at.

Going back in time, men were convinced that the female was “the weaker vessel” and that the “seed of life” was contained within the male until the human ovum was discovered in 1826. Woeful ignorance kept women from voting, signing loan papers, owning property.

But it was really all just a surface farce. Reality was distinctly different. Even on BBC’s 1920’s era Downton Abbey, poor anachronistic Lord Grantham is surreptitiously ruled over by women ie his mother, wife and daughters who were truly in charge of the castle despite the full-frontal appearance of men in control.

downton-abbey

Lord Grantham (in front) only appears to be in charge…

It’s only speculation, but I think if there were women in charge of the Middle Eastern countries, we’d have an end to the interminable tensions and war in the region. Netanyahu and all of those Arab lads would be out on their cans just watching the women settle issues and grievances that have been stirring for centuries. Women wouldn’t allow their sons and daughters to be fed to the war slaughterhouses.

Here’s some reasons why women WILL dominate in years to come:

  1. Women don’t waste time playing video games and watching porn. Girls just grow up and get on with life…well, and obsess over shoes but that’s a minor pastime on the way to the corner office.
  2. Women excel at communication and conciliation, whereas mens’ authoritarian style of coercion is outdated. Women are attuned to social dynamics and know the benefits of collaboration vs. competition.
  3. Women are getting educated and at higher levels. In just about every field, women are either in the lead or are charging hard to take the lead. It’s like China vs the U.S.. Get lazy, and complacent and watch the competition overtake you.
  4. Women know how to balance career and family. Both career and social worlds can thrive simultaneously. Men can’t pull off multi-tasking unless beer and a TV remote are involved.
  5. Men persist in thinking they can rise through manual labour. The world has changed and many men refuse to believe or acknowledge it. If men don’t excel and women do, don’t blame women. Wake up and smell that coffee boys!
  6. Womens’ self-definition is changing. Women don’t feel the need to acquiesce to men to sooth their egos. If a job needs doing, women will just jump in and do it. Damsels in distress are so yesterday.
  7. Allowing women to vote, fight wars, run businesses, and play sports levels the field. Women may never be able to build the physical strength of a man, but can equal or better him in every other facet of life if they choose to.
  8. Men want to get rich quick but don’t want to work or wait for it. Men are too impatient and unwilling to take the longer, slower route to a better solution. Too many impetuous mistakes are made by wanting everything now.

Yes, women are coming on hard and we guys are struggling to adjust. We’re fearful and nervous of a world that doesn’t conform to the notion that we are meant to be in charge without having to prove our worth.

That doesn’t mean that men should just lay down on the tracks and be crushed under the coming locomotive. A smooth running train needs an engine with all of its wheels moving in the same direction.

Women spent the 20th century rejecting the notion that they were just pretty playthings.

The 21st century needs a similar awakening by men who need to exercise their brains as much as their brawn. And if we men can retain some status and influence, our male testosterone competitiveness will provide a nice balance of forward momentum. We need both mens’ and womens’ viewpoints and strengths to experience the best of all worlds.

So, good on you girls for taking the world by the balls and making your mark. Hail to you and your efforts, and please try to be firm but gentle on us fellas as we attempt to keep up.

The question isn’t who’s going to let me; 

it’s who is going to stop me. 

                                                          – Ayn Rand.

Woman Boss with Balls

A woman with balls will always be Boss…

8 Reasons Why Internet Dating Sucks …

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Online dating worked out well for me,

but my wife wasn’t as lucky.”

Comment posted on website Jezebel

online dating

This week I’m going to write to you about something of which I know nothing (as per usual, you say!). Like Seinfeld, this will be a blog post about … NOTHING.

Let’s face it … I’m from a pre-internet era where we had no electronics and little money and did things honestly when it came to dating.

We got barely-see-straight drunk on tablesfull of 25 cent draft beer and tried to pick up pretty girls in Irish pubs and flaky bars … FACE-TO-FACE.

Of course when you’re blotto drunk, the beer goggles make every girl look hot. I’m not sure that beer goggles work the other way around for girls looking at guys.

Sadly, I don’t recall ever getting luckier (or come to think of it, lucky at all!) as the night’s drinking progressed. Mind you, it’s hard to tell face down over a cold, porcelain toilet bowl. That sort of sums up my lack-of-success stories on the dating front.

Nowadays, past that stage, I just snoop in on others’ lives and smile and frown and identify when the shoe fits the life experiences I’ve had.

Snooping

Last week, a co-worker Linda came into my office fuming, an angry sneer on her lip and cellphone waving madly in the air.

Linda’s a pretty, young, single Mom who wants someone special to come home to at night. Someone to share her stories with. Someone to share a meal with her and her young son.

The last few years since she’s been on her own, she’s tried her fortunes with online dating, but has only had hugs from frustration and anger.

At coffee break one week, she brightly tells us a story about a guy she’s “met” on Plenty of Fish –  her raised expectations and hopes reflect like shiny new pennies in her eyes and her smile.

Everyone online sounds like a winner … at first.

It’s like catalogue shopping and everything looks so new and lustrous and “I’ve gotta have one of those” great. And when you first meet the person, the shimmer is still bright for the first few minutes until you realize…

A week or two later the same coffee table talk turns into a “BITCH-fest” about the A**-hole who let her down or turned out to be a creeper.

We all want to love and be loved and it truly sucks when the goalposts shift back and forth so that you just can’t kick the ball into the net and celebrate. It’s frustrating and it’s lonely. It’s like anger and sadness kissed you on the cheek.

Linda says, “This guy was so nice online for the first while and then last night he messages me saying he wants me to tell him when I’m going to bed … what’s with that? Later, he leaves me a voicemail message, “Goodnight Sweetie” …Creeper!”

 

On-line Dating Graph

Without any further delay, let me tell you why you might want to run screaming in the other direction from Internet dating sites. If I was internet dating, these are some things that would have me biting my fingernails.

Realistically, I know most single persons (and many encumbered ones too… apparently 51% of all online dating people are in a relationship already) will still continue searching for love online.

Our human suitcases are overfilled with hope and longing … the fear of loneliness and lovelessness are greater than our concerns about child rapers and father stabbers. But still I’ll cautiously remind you of what awaits, lurking in the internet ether:

8 Reasons Why Internet Dating Sucks …

1. It’s dangerous…if you’re getting responses from:  ILuvUrTaTas, pussylover69, MightyDong69, GoinDown… there might be an early warning built in here.

There have been studies indicating that one out of 10 sex offenders use online dating to meet other people. Also, about 3% of online dating men are psychopaths.

More danger? Some people are gaseous wonders. Who wants to spend their life with a chronic odor maker? … that is dangerous!

2. The “best” products are snapped up in the first 5 minutes.

The photo is the first impression you get with internet dating. The pretty sweethearts and the manly hunks are prey to be devoured … quickly.

Once the sale is announced, nobody wants to be left purchasing the crumbs left in the remainder bin. Unless you’re online 24/7, it’s leftovers for you, my friend.

Most internet dating match-ups end like this ...

Most internet dating match-ups end like this … NOT!

3. It avoids face-to-face contact …. all of those telltale signs of dishonesty like avoidance of eye-contact are impossible to interpret over a computer screen so you have no way of knowing whether the other person is truthful or not.

Our bright or grubby personalities are far more obvious when we converse face-to-face.

You can spend a lot of time establishing rapport with your “future one-and-only”, only to meet and discover a rat within 30 seconds. That’s a lot of time wasted.

4. It raises expectations … when you do find that one random person that does fit all of your supposed “must-haves” you get your hopes up so far that you are devastated when a real person shows up, at some point, with their own set of flaws and baggage.

5. It’s like obituaries, people post pics of themselves taken in the one best moment ever, 15 years earlier, no zits, no side profile shots of witch-like noses, no hint of a 60 lb. weight gain in the interim.

6. It exposes semi-literacy … online writing (eg. e-mails) makes us realize how few people can actually spell correctly or write a grammatically correct sentence.

Even the smartest people these days have trouble writing properly, and you may exclude fantastic potentials, just because they’re semi-literate. This cuts both ways though. It’s nice to be able to screen for those who say they have a law degree but spell their career choice as “Loyr“.

7. It’s way too rational falling in love isn’t logical.

Love, like the lab I work in, is based on chemistry. It’s not based on height or earning capacity. Love is all about feelings and emotions. Dating site profiles deal with personal information. You’re choosing and rejecting potential mates by making rational decisions, whereas in real life, we choose partners by our emotional responses and establishing compatible neuroses.

8. The hot looking stud who came across so well in the messages and texts is a narcissistic twerp in person.

Conversely, the plain-Jane looker turns out to have a sparkling, bright personality that makes her 10x more beautiful than the photo portrayed. Beauty in a person is far more than the perfect symmetry of their face, or the chiselled cut of the jaw line.

Cute Guy Profile

I told you that there would be 8 reasons to avoid internet dating, but I always like to give you more for your money, so here’s an added BONUS.

Another colleague of mine, Carina, offered this next thought from her experiences.

9. The Cupboard Doors Are Always Open … even after you’ve established meaningful contact with a hopeful prospective partner, you’re able to see if they’re continuing to search online for “better” meat.

It hurts to feel you’ve exposed a part of yourself to someone who responds with tenderness only to see them continuing the passionate pursuit with others online.

Who wants to know that someone who has made their heart flutter in romantic expectation is still hoping to catch a slightly better fish.

 …………………..

There you have it … everything I know about nothing.

I don’t know anything about internet dating and truthfully, even when I was dating, I knew little about the best way to meet and seduce young ladies.

I was the cowardly dating lion and only asked someone out whom I had known, worked or studied with for months.

If I wasn’t 99% sure that I would get a positive YES to my request, or if by chance the young Miss was on the verge of herself asking me out of patient frustration, I wasn’t going to risk my ego.

So, it may be that what I’ve told you hasn’t quelled your burning need to meet that notable, unique someone from the comfort of your desktop.

I understand.

Life is about arithmetic. When you meeting someone new, you add to your sum and have greater value. And if you don’t have greater value as a pair, then you subtract that someone to get back to where you started.

But real value is created when that someone new becomes a multiplication to your sum, making each of you far more than just a simple addition.

Well, I’m gonna add even more value for you below. I’ve done your homework for you … you’re welcome!

Here are 10 actual sites that – tongue-in-cheek – just might satisfy the hunger you have for that very special, SPECIFIC someone.  These sites remind me oh so clearly that there truly is someone out there for everyone.

Maybe I’ll even recommend these to my exasperated co-worker Linda just as a reminder that she should take a deep breath and remember there are “Plenty of Fish” waiting to be kissed and not just fried.

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Fat Girls …

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On behalf of all the fat girls, I’m making you represent all the guys…” 

 

beach girl

Trouble getting dates? Yeah, right…

Some things just get to me.

Not very often.

But sometimes.

Today I want to tell you about a TV episode I saw recently that affected me deeply.

It scratched and inflamed a raw nerve that was an oozing wound inside me.

Maybe it’s because of the guilt I feel for being so shallow… or  maybe – just maybe – because I’ve felt the same way – inadequate – at times for similar and slightly different reasons.

Do you know Louie CK?

Middle-aged, slightly rotund and unkempt, somewhat depressed-looking, stand-up comic-guy? I don’t know, maybe he’s the new Rodney Dangerfield. Anyway, he’s pretty popular right now.

I can’t quite figure out whether I like him or LIKE him yet. He’s a lovable teddy-bearish kind of gent, but I don’t want to get sucked into his vortex of minor, low-level gloom. I’m perplexed, is he funny or a downer?

Louie has his own comedy series on FX network called … yup, LOUIE.

It’s kind of like Seinfeld, where Louie does his brief stand-up comic bit followed by a usually semi-autobiographical, weird story arc of an aging, divorced father.

It’s set up to make us feel squirmy and uncomfortable with that unsettling awkwardness that many of us feel from time to time. He’s got the stunned look down pat.

Only for Louie, it’s awkward ALL of the time.

Louie

I’ve had awkward moments.

Once, when I was in my late teens, I climbed into a hot, sticky backseat for a car ride back home from a McDonald’s employee picnic with a dude and his girlfriend – said girlfriend happened to be my ex-girlfriend who I wasn’t 100% over yet.

I sat, feeling sweaty, squirmy, edgy in the back, like a little kid getting a ride home with Mommy and Daddy … uncomfortable? I felt so small.

Many of Louie’s uncomfortable moments revolve around his difficult and embarrassing attempts at dating in NYC. He’s dying to be loved but he’s also the least smooth operator living in the civilized world.

The Episode of Shame

The installment of Louie that affected me so much was one where Vanessa, a plus-sized but sweet-faced server-girl at the club where Louie does his stand-up routine asks him on a date.

(BTW Aside:  the Louie show is worth watching just to see the little girl (Ursula Parker) who plays his 8 year-old daughter Jane. AMAZING little actress!!)

In his typical Louie dazed-style, he looks blankly at Vanessa, gut hanging over his belt, and hums and haws around a way to say “no thanks”.

Sarah Baker as Vanessa is stunning in her frank portrayal of the “fat girl”. She utters such an honest and heartwrenching statement about men and women in western culture that it hurts.

On behalf of all the fat girls, I’m making you represent all the guys,” she says. “Why do you hate us so much? What is it about the basics of human happiness, feeling attractive, feeling loved, having guys chase after us, that’s just not in the cards for us? Nope. Not for us.”

It’s a wonderful and moving soliloquy, isn’t it? Could you feel yourself squirm a little? Maybe you saw yourself in either Vanessa’s position, or maybe Louie’s. That’s the beauty of this episode.

We hold a mirror to ourselves, and we don’t love what we see.

And I reluctantly realize I, like Louie, am guilty as charged.

Yup, I avoided dating fat girls in my early years. I dated a fat girl for awhile – and like Vanessa says in the clip above, we even had sex –  who was very cute and then I backed off when I felt like I was too good. She didn’t match up to the image of what I felt I deserved.

I wallow in the shallowness of my internal self. There are ugly parts to me.

I feel guilty knowing the truth about myself … but then I look in the mirror again.

I realize that just like a fat girl, I have limitations too.

Every one of us has limitations.

Every one of us has the potential to be rejected for something we are or we aren’t.

But I live with my flaws and deficiencies and make the best of it. Sure, I occasionally set myself up a pity-party and knock back a drink or two, but it gets boring quickly and so I head home early and refresh my outlook.

Yes, the storyline is about fat girls, but you might substitute nerdy guys or short guys or an unattractive person. 

We can be fat, we can be ugly, we can have little boobs or a short penis, we can be short or stupid, bald or buck-toothed. Life sucks. But it is what it is.

Yes, I’ve avoided dating fat girls. But really hot girls and too-many-to-count average-looking girls have ignored me and definitely wouldn’t have sex with me in my youth. It’s true, even though since I grew out of my tween chubbies, I’ve been reasonably slender all of my life.

But I don’t look like Rob Lowe, or Tom Cruise, or thank heaven, Mick Jagger. I don’t own yachts like Bill Gates. I don’t have the compelling intellect of Bill Clinton (and any cigars I’ve had were strictly for smoking!). My gifts are modest but worth unwrapping.

We can accept it or change it. We have choices and if we decide to accept our lot, then so be it.

There will always be Louie’s out there that make us frustrated, but really we’re frustrated with ourselves.

So, Fat Girls … fat girls, I’m sorry. There is no perfection, even if looks like sometimes there is.

I feel for you and I want for you what you want, but I can only tell you what most of us (should) know and reluctantly accept.

Life sucks. Shit happens. Sometimes.

I’m shallow.

But we all have something about us that makes us lovable and makes us special to someone else.

And when we find that someone, it makes the wait all worthwhile.

I promise, Vanessa.

perfection-sign

 

 

 

 

A Tim Hortons Love Story

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All great and precious things are lonely.”

John Steinbeck

………………………….

Was it a faint hint of a tear I saw at the corner of her eye as I sat down with my coffee?

She was perched upright with her back snugged close to the large plate-glass window so that she was able to view the entire area of the store including the main entry door at the far side.

It’s not every day that I encounter a fractal of emotion when I order a “double-double” at my Summerland Tim Hortons’ coffee shop.

tim-hortons-extra-large

This is me being discreet when I snoop on others at Tim Hortons …

But of course now I’m intrigued, just like I was a number of months back when I sat next to a murderer at the Penticton Tim Hortons.

Tims has become the quintessential microcosm of Canadian existence, probably like Dunkin Donuts if you’re American, or Gloria Jean’s if you happen to live Down Under.

I curiously examined the inches-away-from-elderly lady (we’ll call her Linda) with dyed light-coloured hair; the network of heat-wave like wrinkles around her eyes and forehead told a truer story of her age. Scuffing her tan-toned shoes nervously over the tile floor, her eyes furtively scanned back and forth.

What was making this woman feel so distracted and out-of-sorts?

As many of us often do when we’re seated in a restaurant, I pried into my neighbour’s life and tried to piece together a sense of a story.

Here was an older woman sitting by herself but obviously expecting someone or something to happen. Nervous anticipation was written all over her face and body language. She turned and wiggled the narrow gold band on her finger uneasily.

It didn’t seem likely that she awaited a friend she met daily or weekly.

She was too old to be waiting on a business meeting or a job interview.

Perhaps a visit from a son or a grandchild had her feeling a bit edgy – had there been some family tension lately? Possibly she wanted to discuss how she would be dividing her estate when the end of her days arrived.

Or maybe … she was a widow awaiting the arrival of a man who had expressed an interest in her companionship. But there was that tear in her eye that left me wondering.

I sipped the steaming coffee, enjoying its smooth creaminess and feeling a bit guilty about having stirred in two Splenda sweeteners instead of the one I had promised to restrict myself to – too bad they were finished with the Roll-Up-The-Rim contest, not that I ever won anything anyways.

Then it occurred to me that there could be a person or two in my midst that was spying in on me at my table and wondering what my story held.

The watcher being watched.

I looked around at the other tables and their occupants suspiciously. Spooky.

But I snapped to present reality when I detected the woman’s eyebrows raise and her eyes lock onto a similarly elderly woman slowly passing through the door at the front.

I could feel it –  this was it.

The story would unfold now.

Book unfolds

This new woman (let’s call her Rose), similar height, similar age but with short cropped salt and pepper hair peered anxiously around until she spotted her acquaintance and, smiling tightly, hustled over to the table.

There was a girl-like shyness about Linda as she rose stiffly and was engulfed in the arms of her friend.

Then, the tension melted away and they sank comfortably into each other’s arms, like long lost lovers reunited … and … I began to realize that this WAS the story.

Let me tell you the rest – at least as I imagined it.

two women hugging

Decades earlier, the two had been nurse co-workers in Vancouver’s Lion’s Gate Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

Working as part of a team, they were set in tense situations frequently while patient after patient entered their lair. It was hard – exhausting, physically and emotionally – work.

Their camaraderie and closeness grew over the months and years. Then one night, after a particularly tense crisis event, their friendship spilled over into a romantic interlude – the surface tension burst and developed into a relationship that continued on for months.

A covert operation.

It was a forbidden love in a society that told them what they were doing was so wrong, and yet they couldn’t step back. Their passion and affection wouldn’t be denied, just guiltily hidden from an unaccepting and hostile world.

But the step back did finally occur when Linda’s father suspected what he didn’t really want to know.

His solution to this “problem” was to forcibly introduce suitable young men into this daughter’s life. And … buckling into the pressure of her family, Linda eventually succumbed and agreed to marry the least disagreeable of the suitors.

Linda brokenheartedly and reluctantly cut her tie with Rose, married the young man and moved away to the small idyllic town of Summerland in the interior of the province.

The next 40 years were spent raising a young family, nursing at the local hospital, and living the quiet, desperate existence of a life of lies to herself.

Meanwhile, Rose passed her years in muffled isolation, immersing herself in her nursing life and occasionally allowing herself the stinging pleasure of remembering her one passionate connection. A mixture of melancholy and happy reminiscence encircled her days.

Rose retired and spent her hours gardening, reading and volunteer in a local nursing home when, one day, a letter arrived.

She could almost hear her heart beating as she opened it and read the bittersweet words from the pen of a decades-long-gone-lover.

It told her the story of a woman recently widowed who had found Rose’s address in the pages of the retired nurses’ website. It told her of a life spent with a husband and children –  days of school meetings and routines, and days filled with happiness and sadness.

And then, at its end, it asked if an opportunity to meet once again was possible. A gathering of old “friends”.

………………………

And so this is where you and I came in.

I gulped back the last drops of lukewarm coffee, rubbed my moist eyes and smiled as I watched them speak in soft tones and with long, lingering looks.

The last thing I saw as I pushed the door open to depart and return to my own life, was the two, their hands extended across the table, firmly holding on to each other as if they would never let go … again …

A great and precious love had been pried apart by an unaccepting world that had finally turned into a place of welcome.

I could feel the cavernous sense of lonely dissolving like sugar in aromatic coffee, leaving only the delicate sweetness swirling in its wake.

Holding hands

 

 

What’s It Gonna Be Girls, 50 SHADES or BITCHES? You Can’t Have it Both Ways…

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Today’s WORDS OF WISDOM:

Before sex, a man isn’t thinking clearly and a woman is thinking clearly.

After sex, it reverses. The man is thinking clearly and a woman isn’t.

 

Ana and Christian

Prepare yourself … Christian and Ana are coming to the Silver Screen …

50 Shades of Grey Moments:

Anastasis Steele: “You’re a sadist?”
Christian Grey: “I’m a Dominant.” His eyes are a scorching gray, intense.
“What does that mean?” I whisper.
“It means I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me, in all things.”
I frown at him as I try to assimilate this idea.
“Why would I do that?”
“To please me,” he whispers as he cocks his head to one side, and I see a ghost of a smile.
Please him! He wants me to please him! I think my mouth drops open. Please Christian Grey. And I realize, in that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation.

…………

“It slips down my throat, all seawater, salt, the sharp tang of citrus, and fleshiness…ooh. I lick my lips, and he’s watching me intently, his eyes hooded.”

Put that thought away, she’s just eating oysters!

 

Why Men Love Bitches Moments:

“Relationship Principle 1:
In romance, there’s nothing more attractive to a man than a woman who has dignity and pride in who she is.” 

…………

“That’s the big picture, your happiness. And health. You should never care what a man thinks of you — until he demonstrates to you that he cares about making you happy. If he isn’t trying to make you happy, then send him back from “whence” he came because winning him over will have no benefit. At the end of the day, happiness, joy…and yes…your emotional stability…those comprise the only measuring stick you really need to have.”

Why Men Love Bitches

 

Are you feeling and smelling the slimy contradiction here?

Sometimes when I’m at work I sit in on coffee breaks and listen to my female co-workers chatter excitedly about their latest reading conquest. It’s fun to be the boy-fly-on-the-wall and catch the girly gossip.

Last year, the long white table surrounded by floor to ceiling windows and overlooking the busy Kelowna street was filled with talk of the lady, or Mommy porn prose of E.L. James. You may have heard of this little sensation – 50 Shades of Grey.

I’m not sure I’ve met a woman yet who hasn’t read at least a part of this beyond-bodice-ripping book.

It surprised me that non-street walking women were feeling quite comfortable admitting they had read the book (or the full series). After all, where was the timidity and reticence of the good girls to admit they were enjoying porn BDSM literature?

Could it be that women have come out of their sexual-inhibition closets?

women-reading-fifty-shades-of-grey

 

This year I’m cocking my ear to the sounds of discussion over another popular book called Why Men Love Bitches.

Bitches, written by Sherry Argov, is like the anti-Christ retort to the 50 Shades Bible, a liberated and strong view of how a woman should want to be treated by a man, and where to bury him if he crosses the bitch-acceptability line.

When I first saw the title to the book, I thought to myself: “Oh, come on … What man loves a bitch? What idiot wrote something stupid like that?

We all know a bitch or two – a spiteful or unpleasant woman – a witch, a shrew, a hellcat, yeah – A Bee-OTCH!

Do you remember how I tricked you by using the word SEX in last week’s blog title? Well, this author hurls out the word BITCH in order to trick us into reading her book.

It’s sneaky deception – she ain’t talking ’bout bitches like you and I know bitches.

But could she sell a book that was titled Why Men Love Strong, Confident, Independent Women?…BLAHHHHH! Boring!

And yet, this is exactly the type of women that she writes 272 pages about. The sensible, strong, sexy, charming, independent, loving woman that yes … many, if not most, men LOVE.

There are no perfumed hints in Why Men Love Bitches of the 50 Shades Ana that comes to thrive on submission to Christian’s every physical and emotional desire:

Christian lays it out to Ana:

 The ownership thing, that’s just terminology and goes back to the principle of obeying. It’s to get you into the right frame of mind, to understand where I’m coming from. And I want you to know that as soon as you cross my threshold as my submissive, I will do what I like to you. You have to accept that and willingly. That’s why you have to trust me. I will fuck you, any time, any way, I want – anywhere I want. I will discipline you, because you will screw up. I will train you to please me.

CFMs on face

Give it back to him Ana!

SUBMISSIVE or BITCH?

Strangely, I’m pretty sure the reading audience for each of these books is similar.

What the hell is going on here … this doesn’t make sense, does it?

Trying to understand the wickedly confusing female psyche, I made myself read both books – such torture for a man to read about explicit sex with beautiful women.

Obviously, I’m now an expert peeking over the other side of the fence knowing exactly what women REALLY want in their men and relationships.

And the short answer is? I have NO IDEA!

Actually, that’s not true. I do have an idea, so hear me out.

Our GREY girl Ana is subservient and plays the submissive princess in the Grey castle where he holds the economic clout and other levers of control. Eventually, like a hostage with Stockholm Syndrome, Ana comes to love Christian and his sexy wicked ways.

The BITCH girl is no one’s bitch. She pays her own way and supports her own castle. As the BITCH says: Work=Money=The ability to choose the way you want to be treated=Personal Control=Dignity. 

These are two hugely popular books with enormous numbers of (predominantly) female followers. And yet, two very different views of how men and women relate on a personal and intimately sexual level.

Contradictory? Yep. But it comes down to this:

We love fantasy as a way of spicing up our lives.

We daydream, we nightdream, we fantasize, we blush inside and conjure up erotic images that we share with absolutely no one – I mean no one – in our real-life world.

It’s a little sweet, chocolate treat we give to ourselves to make our sometimes daily drudgery of working and shopping and cooking and cleaning and vanilla sex tolerable.

50 Shades, like many movies we adore, floats those forbidden fantasies that dwell down deep upwards to the surface and scratches the nagging itch of our inner kinky beings.

But even fantasy-driven people come back to their steady, earthly selves when reading BITCHES, knowing that life – REAL LIFE – is about respect and equality.

Think of it this way:

  • 50 SHADES OF GREY is the Lusty Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars of Sex, Indiana Jones of Intercourse.
  • WHY MEN LOVE BITCHES is the PBS documentary NOVA or Nature of Things or Home Improvement episode.

Sex Wars

 

Before a woman starts into 50 Shades, she’s a rational, documentarian bitch, a librarian with glasses and hair tied up prim and proper.

But find her a couple of chapters into Ana and Christian Grey’s story and the BITCH bondage of her updo transposes into the 50 Shades bondage of wrists and erotically lustful unbounded submission.

It’s a beautiful contradiction, and maybe you CAN have it both ways.

………………..

One last thought.

I can’t resist pointing out the appalling writing contained within 50 Shades. Who can write this stuff and STILL sell a billion copies??:

Ana: “And from a very tiny, underused part of my brain – probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata near where my subconscious dwells – comes the thought: He’s here to see you.”

 

 

 

 

The First Time Ever I Called You Queer …

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In the Elementary School System there are two separate,

Yet equally important groups.

The little boys who pull pony tails and trip girls in the playground at recess

And the little girls who giggle and skip rope.

THESE ARE THEIR STORIES

law-and-order-logo

Almost like the kids’ game RED ROVER, there were inviolable, uncrossable lines at Glen Echo School in Hamilton where I spent my formative Kindergarten to Grade 5 school years.

Truly, SCHOOL laws and BOY laws existed that were unwritten but well heeded until about Grade 6.

These KGB-like regulations secretly stated that boys and girls would never display any obvious signs of admiration, crushes, or lust upon their opposite numbers. Come to think of it, this may have been my earliest encounter with political correctness. Talk about blurred lines.

I was teased – and I teased others –  if I was seen to be currying favour – you know, pulling a pony tail or chasing a girl in the playground, the glaringly obvious signs of pre-pubertal true love.

Boy pulls girl's hair

It just goes to show that we conform to rules, written and unwritten, at an early age. It was clear to us boys that – at least publically – we hated girls because they were YUCKY. ‘Nuff said!

The sadly remarkable yet funny thing is, I knew inside myself that I was attracted to these little cuties in pleated skirts and white knee socks. I just wasn’t sure why.

There were no swelling or developed breasts that shifted my gaze from eye level. There were no curvaceous hips that wiggled seductively as they shuffled in little girl packs ahead of me down the linoleum hallway that, because some Grade 3 kid just puked up a hot dog from last night’s supper, smelled of pungent Dustbane.

It was and is a mystery.

I didn’t really understand these feelings I felt inside.

I just knew that it gave me a warm, pleasant feeling, and had a really strange, stiffening effect on that wee little dangly thing below the belt that I peed from. What was with that?

Louise C. was my first official public crush in Grade 6 – I dished out an extra 10 cents to hold her hand and take her to the Glen Brae Middle School sock hop – but as far back as Grade 1, I was covertly madly and deeply in love with Dale C.

She was that deadly combination of both pretty AND smart. I couldn’t take my eyes off her when she’d come in from recess –  a little whisper of apple flesh clinging delicately to the corner of her lip – and tug her white tights up higher around her waist. I was hypnotized by her strange girly magic.

In Grade 2, she must have gotten pregnant (I always suspected Billy or Jerome of schoolyard lust) or something because her family moved away and I never saw her again. Took me 4 years and a crush on Miss Taylor, my Grade 5 teacher to get over her.

Larry Grade 1 Glen Echo 2

My first crush Dale C is in this picture, but I’ll leave it to you to guess who she is by the “S” we’re holding together…

Things probably haven’t changed a lot on the infatuation front for today’s youngsters, but now I’m casting my sight in a slightly different direction.

Now that I’m an adult (sort of), and the world’s scope of understanding has expanded for me, I find myself wondering.

I was (am) a sexually-straight little guy. We all assumed in my childhood years – again, at least publically – that everyone around us was straight.

My question: When do little gay boy kids start crushing on other little boys, and lesbian girl kids on other little girls? 

The early unwritten rules I’ve just described about not expressing desire or lust must have killed the gay kids.

Why?

Well, for me, Grade 6 came along and suddenly the dam walls that prevented public lust came tumbling down. The classrooms and schoolyards were filled with little conclaves of tender couplings and busy matchmakers.

Billy and Sarah, Blake and Miranda, Frank and Cathy, Nicole and Keith.

Some of the romances lasted for minutes, others hours, the occasional one might stick for a week or two, just like today in Hollywood.

The prison doors were flung open wide, and public yearning was instantly de rigeur. Suddenly, I could drool all over Cathy and Adele and Carol. No questions. No ridicule.

But the dam – the prison walls – never collapsed for the gay kids. I assume there had to be a fair number of homosexual youngsters given what I see in today’s world. But in the real world playground there were no couples walking hand-in-hand like:

John and George, Britney and Madonna, Elton and David, Ellen and Portia.

ellen_portia

If anything, the walls of the dam grew stronger and more forceful for these kids. The level of ridicule and derision for queer youth became more heightened as the volume of sexual hormones rose.

By the time I passed through the front door of Glendale High School, the feelings of anger and mockery for homosexuality were at absurdly elevated levels. I can only imagine the frustration and self-hatred experienced by my LGBT classmates.

I’m living today with questions, and no small amount of guilt, for the way I must have treated my schoolmates who were attracted to their same-gender friends.

For the reality is, there were three, not two equally important groups in the system who had their stories, but we weren’t ready to listen.

Yet.

Are We Now?

 

Before There Was 50 Shades … There Was My Man John …

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When I sat in eccentric old Mr. Batchelor’s Grade 9 English class, I dreamed of my own personal Fifty Shades of Grey scenario with about half of the girls in the classroom.

The short mini-skirts of the ’70’s era, revealing cream-coloured, porcelain-smooth teenage thigh skin were a “blurred lines” invitation to a 14 year-old male pubescent mind.

The scene outside my Grade 9 classroom...

A typical scene outside my Grade 9 classroom…

I was hormonally primed and more than ready to give up elementary schoolyard swings and slides and pounce onto a new sex-charged high school playground.

Yep, I was a squeaky-voiced early version of Christian Grey. My last name “Green”, akin to Grey, was an obvious prescient sensual sign of great things to come.

I was possessed of a totally literary kind of schoolboy perspective with high ideals and best of intentions … NOT!!

I’m pretty sure that not a single one of my imaginary classmates-harem gave this short, cherub-cheeked boy in the front left desk any thoughts close to what I was living in my preoccupied haze.

I was giftwrapped in my brain’s illusion, and there was no one that would take the wrapping off and make it real.

But … aside from my adolescent fantasy world, I enjoyed the class for some of the academic reasons too.

…………………

As a decent student, I relished reading stories and literature that drew me in and took me to worlds of which I knew nothing.

But, to take just one example, reading Shakespeare left me in a a muddled whirlwind of incomprehension and confusion. Good God, what did any of his Renaissance-era Olde English words mean?

I loved it when we travelled on field trips to Stratford (Ontario, Canada … not that OTHER Stratford) to watch the plays acted live, because mercifully, I could eke out an understanding of the story. Live theatre was a pretty reasonable substitute for Coles Notes.

The actions showed me what the words never had.

Plus there was lots of drama, fights, sword-play, and naughty 50 Shades-style bawdy skirmishing.

It was great fun watching the serious-minded Shakespearean actors jettison streams of airborne saliva all over each other in their emphatic acting roles. Strange how live acting never appealed to me as a life choice after seeing one of those plays.

Members of the company in Kiss Me, Kate , 2010. Photography by Erin Samuell.

……………………

Fortunately, I wasn’t a total literary loss — there was one author that we young learners read at various times throughout high school that was understandable for me.

He told empathetic stories with struggling, heartfelt characters like justice-seeking Tom Joad and dim-witted Lennie Small.

He created a world of real life drama that took possession over me, carrying me into a time warp that dramatized my parents’ and grandparents’ era…the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Who was this wonder author that penetrated the hormonally-charged mind of a teenage boy?

John Steinbeck

.

The Grapes of Wrath. Of Mice and Men. East of Eden. Cannery Row.

Lennie and George...Of Mice and Men... so bittersweet.

Lennie and George…Of Mice and Men… so bittersweet.

I’ve told you in earlier blog posts that I’m not a great fan of Hemingway’s sparse writing.

On the other hand, I loved Steinbeck. I loved Steinbeck then, the way you might love Stephen King or Suzanne Collins or J.K. Rowling today.

By his words, you could taste the bone-dry prairie dust in your mouth. You could feel your heart breaking and tears rising when Lennie panics and accidentally snaps the neck of the boss farmer’s beautiful wife — Oh Lennie, why did you have to go and do that?

But I read his stories with different eyes in a different era from today. Society was a different place then, just as it is in every generation and time.

We look at the past world and see the words and actions of others as if they were occurring today. We judge Christopher Columbus by who we are now, not who he was in 1492.

Steinbeck chronicled an era, not unlike TV’s Mad Men, where women sat stoically in the background and waited for decisions to be made on their behalf.

Like obedient cattle, women were chattel, or sometimes Lady Chatterley, but never an equal co-driver or co-decision maker.

In those high school days, few of us ever saw his characters as being sexist or misogynistic.

Women were just people. 2nd Class people maybe, but it was what it was.

misogynistic-vintage-ads

Chapter 1 of The Grapes of Wrath had this telling scene of prairie folk fearfully surveying their destroyed livelihoods:

Men stood by their fences and looked at the ruined corn, drying fast now, only a little green showing through the film of dust. The men were silent and they did not move often.

And the women came out of the houses to stand beside their men—to feel whether this time the men would break. The women studied the men’s faces secretly, for the corn could go, as long as something else remained.

The children stood near by, drawing figures in the dust with bare toes, and the children sent exploring senses out to see whether men and women would break. The children peeked at the faces of the men and women, and then drew careful lines in the dust with their toes.

Horses came to the watering troughs and nuzzled the water to clear the surface dust.

After a while the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe and that there was no break.

Then they asked, What’ll we do? And the men replied, I don’t know. But it was all right. The women knew it was all right, and the watching children knew it was all right. 

Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole.”

It’s a beautifully written passage of anguish and despair, finishing off with insight and hope.

But was this some kind of innocent early non-sexualized precursor to 50 Shades where women were meek and submissive – a place where the dominant male asserted his rightful supremacy?

Could you write a book today with lines like this?

Maybe, but I think that Steinbeck would more likely have this cheerless man and woman standing side-by-side, pondering the difficult choices to be made … together … equals. The man would want to know that she wouldn’t break as much as she wouldn’t want him to falter.

I still admire and enjoy Steinbeck’s stories, but I interpret and absorb the words differently.

The grey matter in this Green man’s head has been altered and shifted by time and experience. When I read a book (or view a movie) now that I took in as a younger person, I see it from the who and the where that I am now.

In a blog post I wrote about a year and a half ago, I told of my shock and dismay that 5o Shades of Grey had become such a popular phenomenon among women of all ages. It didn’t make sense to me that women would embrace a character like Anastasia Steele who would allow herself to be victimized and dominated so willfully.

It surprises the hell out of me that a society that clamours for gender equality, also enigmatically and breathlessly clamours for stories of female victimhood and inequality.

Who knows, perhaps in 20 years I’ll re-read 50 Shades and the words and scenes will look different to my older eyes just as Steinbeck’s stories and characters have changed for me over time.

NAH …

I’ll still yell at Anastasia not to sign that Dominant/Submissive contract with Christian Grey, and turn and run in the opposite direction.

50 Shades of Bad

When Harry Met Sally… and Sun Tzu … and Star Wars…

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I was statuesque, almost Adonis-like, in Mountain pose –  Tadasana.

tadasana2

Marsha, my yoga instructor for many years now, was sitting on her mat, giggling girlishly at the front of the group because she was struggling to remember the 12 movements needed to go through Sun Salutation. She’s a petite, reddish-blond dynamo who’s been teaching yoga for more than 20 years, so forgetting one of the very basic yoga moves is a bit embarrassing for her.

But she casually shrugs it all off and repeats the movements with us once more, forgetting the cobra move … again! We all break into hysterics with, not at, Marsha.

There is a deep, mild calm that gives Marsha – after years of bending and stretching and OOOM‘ing – her own hazy little aura of relaxed serenity, you might call it a state of ZEN.

According to Wikipedia – and love me or hate me, but I LOVE Wikipedia – zen emphasizes the attainment of enlightenment and the personal expression of direct insight in the Buddhist teachings.

I interpret zen as finding some calm peace in our own personal piece of mayhem and clamour, turning down the anxious, disturbed, muckraking voices in our heads. Yoga is a tool that insidiously permeates its way into my sensation of zen.

If a devil truly exists, I’m pretty sure she’s (c‘mon, if, as so many claim, God is a woman, surely the devil must be one too!) occupied a small protected corner in the back of my brain, sending out nasty little missives to shoot me down.

We search out a personal state of zen in our own way and pattern of philosophic meldings. Our life doesn’t come to us in neat pre-packaged doctrines as it may have in earlier times.

Each of us forms a philosophy of life as if we’ve wandered the aisles of Walmart. We pick little packages of beliefs and credos, shiny snippets of ideas and ideologies off the shelves.

Some souls absorb a bit of Sun Tzu or religion here, peace and spirituality in nature there, or a pipe of crack cocaine, or maybe, just maybe, for the more contemporary 21st century apprentice like myself, absorb notions from within the setting of a movie. After all, Star Wars has an army of philosophical “May The Force Be With You” adherents.

But me, I’ve taken my guide to life from the philosophical approach through the:

ZEN of When Harry Met Sally

when-harry-met-

Yes, When Harry Met Sally guides our interpersonal world, thanks to the blended genius of writer Nora Ephron, director Rob Reiner, and actors Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.

The 1989 rom-com movie could have been titled Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and there would be clarity to late 20th – early 21st century North American life. One viewing of the flick and we all nod our heads in understanding of what we’re not understanding.

Men and women want to reach out and get along well with each other, and it’s clear we need each other so badly. But really, down deep, penises and vaginas don’t have the foggiest notion of what makes the other tick.

If you believe that God created the body of Eve from the rib of Adam, well, I’m sure he laughed to himself (sorry, herself) and chose a totally different source of creature for the brain. Women and men love to play and tussle together, but never sit on the same end of the teeter-totter   :

Harry: You know you just get to a certain point where you get tired of the whole thing.

Sally: What “whole thing”?

Harry: The whole life-of-a-single-guy thing. You meet someone, you have the safe lunch, you decide you like each other enough to move on to dinner. You go dancing, you do the white-man’s over-bite, go back to her place, you have sex and the minute you’re finished you know what goes through your mind? How long do I have to lie here and hold her before I can get up and go home. Is thirty seconds enough?

Sally: That’s what you’re thinking? Is that true?

Harry: Sure! All men think that. How long do you want to be held afterwards? All night, right? See there’s your problem, somewhere between thirty seconds and all night is your problem.

Sally: I don’t have a problem!

Harry: Yeah you do.  

Stomach knots

When I feel tense or agitated, I inhale a huge relaxing belly breath and run through a scene or two from When Harry Met Sally, and natural calm is restored. Whose stomach can remain tied up in knots when contemplating the totally knotted diatribe of Billy Crystal on whether men and women can just be friends – it’s therapeutic comic relief :

No, no, no, I never said that…

Yes, that’s right, they can’t be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can… This is an amendment to the earlier rule.

If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted…

That doesn’t work either, because what happens then is, the person you’re involved with can’t understand why you need to be friends with the person you’re just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it?

And when you say “No, no, no it’s not true, nothing is missing from the relationship,” the person you’re involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you’re just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let’s face it.

Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can’t be friends.

See, I’m writing this out and I’m smiling inside, any knots are gone, gone, gone. Just like Marsha, I’m finding my deeper calm.

I use yoga practice to find my zen so that I’m not bent out of shape by the differences in philosophies I’m surrounded by. Learning not to judge is high on my Mazlow’s hierarchy of self-actualization. Wars are started by ignorance and misunderstanding and rushing to judgment.

Acceptance is the final mature step, isn’t it? Like Harry says at the end of the movie:

I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

The Zen of When Harry Met Sally means:

Acceptance … Namaste my friend.

I'll Have What She's Having

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