Sunday, December 04, 2005

pigs need not apply

Men. As someone who has finally found and married the most perfect man in the world (who just happens to have a birthday tomorrow), I don't really think about //men// as a concept, generality, label, or subgroup of the population any more. I don't have to worry as much any more about men who are liars or men who approach me with less-than-honorable motives, as the primary man in my life at this time is the kind of person who amazes me with his... his everything. Can't list it all, it's just all so good.

But that hasn't always been the case.
I didn't really date much in high school-- I was more the freckled brace-faced geek in the corner wearing plaid flannel and Doc Martens, too scared to be social, sitting around listening to the Pixies, the Smiths, and They Might Be Giants so that I wouldn't have to talk to anyone at lunch time. I had a few boyfriends (mostly people I'd met while at band camps, drum major camps, and Governor's School). Truthfully, I had received two marriage proposals before even leaving for college, both of which I turned down. All in all, though, I wasn't much of a player on the dating scene. But when I went off to college at 17, that all started to change, at least a little.

Serious boyfriend #1: Losing the Race (I was 18, he was 23; 3 months)
In case you haven't noticed, I am white (for most purposes). My first serious boyfriend was not. I actually met him when I was a senior in high school and he came to my hometown (a major tourist attraction in South Carolina) for Spring Break. He and his buddies stayed in the hotel where I worked (operating a small convenience store part time), and made an unusually high number of trips to the store to buy stuff. It wasn't until later that fall, when I realized that it was the same guy in the USC marching band with me and we started dating, that he confessed that he had made up excuses to come into the store just to talk to me. It might be good to note at this point that 4 generations up my ancestry tree, I have a biracial great-great-grandfather. Knowing that he would have been born in the Deep South in the mid-late 1800s, the imagination doesn't have to travel far to suppose the kind of circumstance into which he might have been born, but that's another post for another day. For the purposes of this story, the relevance is that although I have fair skin, freckles, and very white features in general, I have at least one (that I know of) branch of my family tree that goes back to both white slave owners and black slaves. So, the fact that my entire family flipped their lids over me dating a black guy remains a complete and total mystery to me. In any case, I didn't dump him because of my parents hissyfits. In fact, I think I went a few months without speaking to them because of their hissyfits. But in the end, the stress and anxiety of my parents' reactions (and his) contributed to the demise of the relationship. VERDICT: NOT A PIG

Serious boyfriend #2: Double Agent (I was 18, he was 34; off and on for 5 years because I'm a glutton for punishment)
Not much to say about this one, simply because there's too much that I could say. For now, I'll simply caution married men out there: If you one day find yourself dissatisfied with your current marriage situation and decide to take on a lover on the side in another state, at least have the decency to let the potential "other woman" know that you are married with a family in another state sometime before she's been in love with you for a year, and preferably before you take her out trying on engagement rings, meet her family, and start a new family with her. A woman, however young and naive and stupid, deserves to be able to choose whether or not she will be a pawn in someone else's betrayal. VERDICT: PIG. Primarily because he was someone who had so much potential to be an incredible person, but has never seemed to want to light that potential on fire and use it to make the world a better place.

Serious boyfriend #3: I was the heathen (age 21 [and already a single mom], about 6 months)
This was my first experience of falling in love with my best friend. In an attempt to put some space between me and boyfriend #2, I had moved to Florida in May of 1997. After a couple of weeks of writing back and forth, it occurred to me that there was, in fact, at least one guy out there who had never treated me with anything but respect-- someone who had taken care of me during rough times, listened to me, supported me, shared with me, and participated in absolute silliness with me (an important element of any relationship, as far as I'm concerned), and who had never once taken advantage of my emotional struggles for his own benefit. I wrote a letter confessing my complete and total admiration and infatuation, which led to a few months of a great long distance relationship-- lots of phone calls, letters, and road trips. Eventually, #3 became the 4th person to ask me to marry him, and for the first time, I said yes. And that was about the end of that relationship. Turns out, his parents, who are the first generation in his family to come to the United States and who are not Christians, were very much opposed to him marrying into the family of the great white westernized Christian devil, particularly at such a young age, and being the kind of son most parents dream of having, he would not oppose their wishes. He is still a very close family friend, and has become a friend to my husband as well, and remains one of the men I think of when I think of integrity, honesty, and character. VERDICT: NOT A PIG

Serious boyfriend #4: Weenie Man(I was 21, he was 34; 1 year)
This relationship was doomed from the start. We met at church and had a great time, and I think he was just excited to find someone who was both Christian and fun, and who (like him) enjoyed art museums, indie films, ethnic foods, and mellow nights at home. We were also both disability advocates at the time-- me working with kids with autism, and him working in technology for disability rehab. Unfortunately, two major things led to the end. First, I was terribly insecure and not very trusting after the betrayal of boyfriend #2, and #4 was the geeky big-brother kind of friend to a horde of gorgeous young women who never made an effort to get to know me. Secondly, I was a single mom and no longer interested in dating "just for fun," and #4 had some MAJOR commitment issues. Note to any guy thinking about dating a single mother: No matter how un-needy this woman may try to seem, don't waste her time if you know in your heart that you aren't ready for a commitment. It just isn't fair or productive. As a side note, #4 is now in his forties, and still not sure if "Mrs. Right" is ever going to come along. He'll be waiting a long time, I imagine. VERDICT: NOT A PIG. JUST A WEENIE. No guts, no glory.

Serious boyfriend #5: Skeezy Porn Guy(I was 22, he was 34; 3 months)
I met this guy at a healing service at the church I started attending. He was one of the hands-on healers participating in the service, and I spent most of the service praying that he wouldn't come anywhere near me. Truth be told, I had just about had it with guys by this point, and didn't want to be touched by some jerk I didn't even know. Well, as things would turn out, he never did come to pray with me. But after the service, he came up to make sure he had not offended me: "You know, I just wanted to make sure you didn't think I was ignoring you or anything-- I just really felt it on my heart that perhaps you didn't want me to come into your space, so I wanted to be sensitive to that and not make you uncomfortable." A man who is sensitive, thoughtful, and spiritual? One like that exists? *swoon* After I found out he played in our local symphony, I was sold. At 16, I had been the youngest member to ever play in our local symphony back home, so it was a nice common bond. Once we started dating, I realized what a complete and total condescending, chauvinist a-hole he really was, and couldn't believe I had ever fallen for his act. He lied to and manipulated me, and told me lots of half-truths because he thought I couldn't handle knowing certain things about him and his lifestyle. Then I discovered the porn. Boxes and boxes of it. Videos, magazines, toys, and web histories that were pretty overwhelming by their sheer numbers; teens, barely legal, disgusting stuff, really. By this point, I had had it with guys wasting my time. I gave him an ultimatum-- get rid of it or I go. He babbled a bunch of excuses, and I left him. I probably would have left him anyway, even if he had gotten rid of it. He was a sorry excuse for a human, and the sad thing is that he probably still believes to this day that I was the one with the problem. VERDICT: PIGGIEST OF THE PIGS

That was the last guy I dated before my now-husband. Quite a passel of pigs, eh? (with a few exceptions...)

So, the past few days, I've been thinking a good bit about my husband and how thankful I am for him, for his integrity, for his honesty, and for him being such a larger-than-life great guy for my children to look up to. His birthday is tomorrow, and our anniversary is next weekend, and I can't help but be overwhelmed and humbled when I think of how greatly he towers over most of the "men" I've dated in the past. It's so intense, my admiration for him, so much so that I think we should quit calling everyone with a penis a "man." There's got to be a better word. We really should think of reserving the word "man" for people who actually deserve it-- for those who set the standard for others to follow. Pigs need not apply. Now, I know that the only commenters I ever seem to get on my blog are men, and from what I have gathered thus far they seem to be pretty extraordinary men, and so for weeks, I've resisted the urge to post something that might be seen as anti-man. But for the women reading this who have been putting up with CRAP from guys for however long, and for the male readers I may occasionally get who are blissfully unaware that they are pigs-- be aware. Ladies, there are in fact real men out there-- men who will respect you, love you, lift you up, adore you, spoil you, inspire you, and be your best friend. Don't settle for less. And pigs, watch out. Those real men-- they will happen upon your women eventually, and when they do, all your flaws and secrets and silliness and control issues will be exposed for what they are, and you will be very, sadly, and completely alone. Change now, or prepare for the worst. :-)

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