Sunday, May 2, 2010

What Women Want - to my male friends

Ok, I was reading this article entitled "10 Simple Things Women Want" and it reminded me of a book my favourite South African author Darrel Bristow-Bovey wrote. It was so good I have to quote the whole thing right here, word for word, and dedicate to my male friends.


When it comes to finding a mate, there has been much advice bandied about over the years, some of it useful.

"Get yourself a good club and interesting wall paintings, and for God's sake move out of your parent's cave, already," they told Australopithecus man.

"Get yourself a feudal balcony and a village full of loyal peasants who have sworn an oath of vassalge and whose brides you can sleep with on their wedding nights," they told medieval man.

"Get yourself a job, a car and a dark-blue suit," they told men in the 1950s.

"Get yourself some long hair and drugs," they told men in the 1960s.

"Get yourself some dance moves, some dangling neck-jewellery, some assorted varieties of facial hair including sideburns, and a shirt made from a flammable synthetic material," they told men in the 1970s. "Oh, they added, "and forget about the drugs."

"Get yourself a fax machine, a cordless telephone, a gym membership, a job you can't really explain to anyone in a way that would make sense, a car you can't afford and of course - some drugs," they told men in the 1980s. In fact, let's just take that "car you can't afford" as read from now on as well.

"Get yourself a subscription to a glossy women's magazine, your own reflexologist, a private gym instructor, a set of face-care products, a privaste gym instructor, a set of face-care products created especially for men, a career that fulfills you, a creative outlet, a cellphone you don't always feel the need to answer, the ability to cook at least three dishes that don't involve pasta or toast, one or more experiments in quirky facial hair and a drug dealer that delivers to you," they told men in the 1990s.

You will notice that the must-have lists have steadily increased over the years. This is not because women have become more noticably demanding of their men. Indeed, when you look at some of the villains and rotters and generally misshapen detrimentals you see walking with beautiful women in their arms, you will share my suspicions that women demand almost no standards at all of the men they inexplicably select. No, the list of demands has grown because these are the demands we are putting on ourselves!

We are the ones who started saying, "Ooh, you've been right all these years! We are shallow, simple, one-dimensional beings. We do need to add colour to our wardrobe and depth to our lifestyles, in order to best bring out the goddess that is you. Look at me! I'm cooking with capers and something that involves the word "balsamic" in its name, and yet I am still earning a good salary and going to the gym to make my stomach flat! Check it out, I can discuss feng shui, and almost pronounce it correctly! Love me, for I have opinions about interior decoration! See how multidimensional I am! Plus, can I read your copy of Conversations with God when you're finished?"

And women went: "Golly." Because they never expected us to believe all that. They didn't even really believe it themselves. It was just an age-old ritual that we all followed, the same way men don't always mind stopping and asking for directions - we just feel we have to pretend we do. But of course when confronted with this sudden mass offer to unilaterally disarm, women said, "Okay, dandy."

They would have been fools if they hadn't, and of the vast number of things that women are not, fools is right at the top of the list.

So you can't blame them for accepting the offer, but it has resulted in no good for any of us. Because here's the thing: it doesn't work. It certainly doesn't work for men: it is too much effort to improve yourself, especially when deep down your every Y chromosome is yelling out: "This is not an improvement! You were a better man when you had never used an olive oil atomiser! You were a better man when you thought reiki was an oriental technique for gathering up loose leaves!"

It is too much effort and you generally fail at it, which leaves you feeling like a failure, which is never good for your sex life.

And the women aren't happier either. Women, God help them, like men. They have liked us for years, for centuries, forever - just as we were. I can't understand it any more than you can. It's one of those facts of life. If we stop to question it, chaos ensues. And that is what we have done: we have questioned it. We have set out to be better.

And now we are not the men that women have learned to resentfully love and lovingly resent, and that means women are as confused and listless as we are. It is even worse for them, because they have finally got what they want, and it isn't what they want!!! They are sitting there thinking: do I really, in the deepest part of me, want to share my life with someone who cares so much about whether Ally McBeal could ever find true love with Robert Downey Jr? Sure, he takes a lot of drugs and he'd never be home much, but in a weird sort of way - that's kinda sexy.

(Darrel then goes into a long spiel about how men should embrace their "inner ostrich egg" and their "inner Oprah"...but i won't copy that in! Rather he teaches men to be simple creatures...and that most women will be happier if you just SHUT UP)


Play it smart. When she says, "What are you thinking about?" - and you know she will - consider your response.

Don't say: "I was wondering what you were thinking about." That is sad, and not at all mysterious.

Don't say: "I was thinking about how much I love you", because this is not only untrue but it devalues one of the last cards you have left to play. One day you will need that card to get out of a mess of sticky trouble, my friend, and you will be grateful you still have it up your sleeve.

I would also counsel against honesty here. "I was thinking about what time the game starts on Saturday" is simply giving away too much of yourself. Keep it cagey. Don't answer directly. Instead look out of the window and say: "Isn't it odd to think that Mozart/Noah/Golda Meir looked up the very same moon?"

Do not misunderstand: this is not going to fool her into thinking that you really were musing on the vagaries of time, the flesh and the ever-changing world. It doesn't matter. Understand clearly: she doesn't want to know what you're really thinking. She wants you to provide a blank canvas on which she can paint her deepest dreams of what you might be like. Embrace it!*

* As a woman I must vouch that every single word is true!

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