Wednesday, February 3, 2010
In the predecessor to this post, I used some basic research and general "do as I say, not as I do" logic to get on women (yeah, go ahead, picture it) about the bullshit moves women as a gender need to axe in order to make the world a better place. Having called out vaginae across the globe, it's time to shift focus to the other end of the spectrum. Today, we're talking to you, peni.
Men, I get it: women are confusing. We've got hair triggers wired to bombs scrapped together from ovaries, tear ducts and emotions you don’t understand. We say one thing, mean another, pursue an unspoken third and expect you to navigate all three without a single fuck-up, lest the ovary-bomb detonate in your face (sometimes literally). We will, like clockwork, spoil your post-orgasm haze with excruciating over-analysis of "feelings" or some off-hand comment you delivered three weeks ago and don't even remember saying. And, when not clinging to you like koalas on eucalyptus branches, we will sometimes abandon you entirely...especially if you've developed feelings.
Well, scrotum toters, you're no cakewalk either.
In order to help pave the divide between the sexes, I interviewed a group of 20 men and 15 women, gay and straight, single or dating, ranging in age from 22 to 56, to get a rough idea what behavioral changes would make 2010 a better year for ALL of us. Here, in no particular order, are the top five changes which could better the lives of the menfolk and the partners they love (or used to love) if implemented en masse, recognizing they're applicable to both genders:
RESOLUTIONS FOR EVERY PENIS:
1. IF YOU'RE JUST NOT THAT INTO HER, DON'T ACT LIKE YOU ARE. This one is the root of 90% of all female insanity.
Mixed signals have been a plague on humankind ever since Eve told Adam she was “totally happy” (direct quote), then took off to get happier with a fucking serpent and his quince (PS: that snake was totally gay. A quince? Really??). They’ve gotten no easier to deal with or interpret, and the reality you’ve been misled by someone you thought cared for you stings no less than being ejected from Eden.
While both genders struggle with this, the thrill of the hunt and validation of someone’s affection is something which seems to scramble the empathy chip in men faster than women. I sat over drinks with a male friend recently, watching as he rolled his eyes while his phone lit up with texts from a girl he’s been seeing several weeks without much fanfare. “She just can’t take a hint,” he groaned while nevertheless texting her back something with a cute emoticon at the end...before casually dropping how amazing sex had been with her the night before.
“Wait, so, you don’t really like her?”
“She’s cool, but not my type.”
“And you’re not interested in pursuing anything serious with her?”
“No. And I told her that.”
“But you were inside her less than 12 hours ago and are now texting her cute messages with little smiley faces?”
It took everything not to reach across the table and slap him.
After a little more probing, it became clear that my friend is not a heartless cretin--just stupid. To him, the words “I’m not interested in anything serious” were in no way a contradiction to his actions. Hey, he’s warned her, right? When I explained that the combination of sex, daily texts and taking her to meet all his friends (which he did) could be interpreted as “boyfriend behavior” and would turn her into what all men fear most--a clingy, crazy woman--if he didn’t STOP, he seemed baffled.
Purposefully cultivating the affection of someone you do not have feelings for out of practice, sport, boredom or loneliness isn’t just childish--it literally breeds the sort of trust issues, game playing and maddening neuroses that can cripple the next relationship you really do want. No decent human wants to be the bad guy...but I guarantee you will be if reconciling your signals with your intentions is not a priority. If you really need the attention that badly? Get a dog.
2. STOP USING INFATUATION AS A BAND-AID. Again, both genders are guilty of this one, but men, largely because of the societal pressure to “man up and get over it,” are expert abusers.
Infatuation is one of the easiest and most effective remedies on the shelf. I know the set-up well: a partner breaks your heart; a major tragedy shakes you to your foundation; a difficult life change opens wounds you didn’t know you were nursing. The pain, anxiety and isolation that follows any of these events is almost too much to bear. When a distraction (particularly one with a pulse that can validate you with their attention) finally comes along, it feels like divine intervention.
Throw in a little sex and things get even better. Different from love-making, infatuated sex causes a potent cocktail of drugs to be released by the brain and into your depressed body, specifically oxytocin (a natural painkiller), vasopressin (a chemical which causes bonding between individuals) and endogenous opioids (your body’s own homegrown heroin)...basically, everything you need in that moment to feel not just human again, but superhuman.
You are not superhuman. You’re a junkie, masking the real issue with an intoxicant that makes absinthe look like O’Douls. And, like any junkie, the only way to keep the high rolling is to find the next fix. Since infatuation inevitably fades (our brains are wired to move to the next thing), a cycle begins: enter blissful plaything after plaything, each holding a fresh hit of distraction in their outstretched palm.
But infatuation is a poor dressing for wounds. It heals nothing and delays re-growth, allowing major trauma to fester for years before the smell of your damage finally alerts someone--if you’re lucky, you--that gangrene has set in. At best, you don’t lose any limbs and recover. At worst, your untended issues become your undoing...or become the kind of scars someone who would treat you the way you’ve always wanted won’t be willing to deal with.
A little post-break-up booty never hurt anyone. I’ve even practiced this ritual as a religion at times. But ignoring the heart of the matter (your own) entirely is an excellent strategy for longterm misery, and no amount of band-aids will fix a sucking chest wound.
3. STOP LYING--YOU'RE BAD AT IT.
Men are fantastic fibbers, especially when it comes to the basics. "Where are you? Who's with you? Are you drunk? What happened?"
I've both witnessed and received completely fabricated answers to all those questions and seen them delivered with remarkable flair. But then, anywhere from a week to six months later, it comes: the inevitable fuck-up.
The fuck-up is a two-pronged inevitability. First comes the predictable atrophying of the Male Lie. Like an overweight caribu falling behind the herd, one flubbed "fact"--a Facebook photo which contradicts the intel you gave your interrogator, a wingman's public admiration of what you had assured your woman was anything BUT bad behavior, a slip of the tongue that reveals one of your partner's rivals really WAS present on the night in question (after you said he/she was not), anything--loosens itself from your airtight story, compromising the stability of an otherwise solid untruth. This misstep then awakens an entity that has mystified and ultimately destroyed men for millenia: the Female Memory.
A Venus flytrap brimming with seemingly benign details, the Female Memory violently unwinds thousands of hidden tentacles once provoked, each demon-limb thorned with tiny details (from ex-girlfriend names to subway routes) you, the man, have long since let slip away. In a bloody scene that could have made the final cut of Clash of the Titans, these flailing appendages wind themselves around the petrified form of your flubbed factoid, slam it into the hard surface of reality until the spine shatters, then use the broken body like a hammer to break apart your lie until nothing but bare, raw truth lays naked on the ground.
More vicious than when this brutalizing happens openly (spurring a fight, an apology and, if you're lucky, make-up sex), however, is when the Female Memory rips something apart--and the woman says nothing. Sometimes we're waiting for more proof, even though the tidal wave of bad feelings is already headed toward the shore. Sometimes we've made the decision not to start a fight over something small...or to save a big one for another time. Sometimes we honestly don't know what to do with the truth. Regardless, once exposed to the Female Memory, the Male Lie becomes a landmine the man in question could set off at any time.
I’m not saying women don’t lie. (On the contrary, we are the only gender that can utter the phrase “I’m pregnant” when it’s not true, and we’ve all watched Maury enough to know how that story ends.) Lying and the erosion of trust is a major issue on both sides of the fence. What I’m saying is, simply: Women are better at lying than men are, which means we know when you’re full of shit. So, in the presence of the masters, don’t complete...don’t challenge...
4. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. I discussed this one in detail on the women’s list already, so I'll just summarize here. As mentioned originally, the most emotionally raw people I interviewed all commented that they'd been hurt by the same two things: A) pursuing lives which didn't make them happy, and/or B) being misled by someone who said they wanted one thing but really wanted the complete opposite. This basically means people spend as much time lying to themselves as they do to other people, if not more.
The good news is that while self-ignorance is harmful to you and everyone you care about, it's remedied fairly easily. So go hit a retreat in Utah, meditate at an ashram in Bali, or simply grab a six-pack and go sit in the corner until you’ve figured out what you want from life...and us. Knowing thyself is the new yoga.
5. GO DOWNTOWN. I don’t know how else to put this, so I’m just going to say it: You. Have. To. Eat. The. Pussy.
During my many years nestled in monogamous (oral-filled) bliss, I heard grumblings from girls about non-reciprocating oral sexers. These weren’t isolated incidents retold by wildebeests you wouldn’t expect ANYONE to go down on. These were tales of dissatisfaction from women at the top of the sexual food chain, hot, discerning and Brazilian-waxed lovers that lavished oral attention on their partners willingly and without complaint...up until the point when the menfolk bypassed their turn and went plunging into the tunnel without paying the freaking toll.
I’d encountered one of these tongueless gremlins in college, but figured he was an anomaly--a charismatic alcoholic whose unfortunately tiny penis was frequently downed like a windsock on a still day by cocaine, his clitoral ineptitude seemed just another part of his complete, sexually retarded package.
He was not an anomaly. Since college (which was half a decade ago) I’ve crossed paths with his ilk once myself, consoled two friends and three different acquaintances from other social circles who've gone un-licked, and spent five years verbally berating wingman Red for actually dating one of these lazy S.O.B.’s for such an unreasonably long period of time (yeah, he was a vegan, but that’s no excuse).
So I ask: What is it, Vagaphobes? You don’t like the mess? Just stay north of the canal, it’s drier up there! Don’t know what you’re doing? It’s the internet age--you can Google it! Can’t stand all the time and effort? Cool...we’ll be happy to watch Project Runway while your handle yourself tonight.
Men, this denial of service is particularly unacceptable if your partner gives fantastic head. I’m not talking run of the mill, vanilla soft-serve tonguing; I understand you can find that anywhere. But if your woman seems to have been divinely assembled in a Dyson laboratory, DO NOT SCREW IT UP. For every guy out there who won’t give head there are three women who give totally average head...and life is too short for average oral.
Oh, and while we’re in the area: shave it or trim for Chrissakes. This isn’t Europe and the waxing we do for you doesn’t tickle, so man up and fucking groom.
And thus ends the penis-oriented installment of this series.
May all genders and orientations remember that, regardless of gripes, we love each other. We've just got some work to do.