I’ve been told over and over again that men are simple. But I never believed it. I was suspicious, couldn’t accept that any so-called male bad behavior was caused by mere lack of thinking, that there hadn’t been some ulterior motive behind some man’s thoughtless comment or action. That, whenever a man I was dating pissed me off, he was personally persecuting me and maybe I deserved it because I had done something wrong. And if, after reflection, I realized that I hadn’t done anything wrong, well then, he was just a bad, bad person. And since this ultimately happened in all my dating relationships, I eventually concluded that either men were just bad bad people, or else I was perennially doing something wrong. I didn’t understand men at all. But then, like a lightening bolt of truth in the midst of the turmoil that is the end of law school/pre-Bar exam, comes Detroit Rock City to explain and enlighten my sorry contemplative ass once and for all. And now I realize that, really, there probably never was any ulterior motive or personal persecution at all. Oh, if only I could have all those years back! How is it that I lived until almost thirty-ahem without seeing this movie?
Remember all that writing I did about who-where-what-when men are-can be-want to be… basically, my quest for today’s definition of manhood? Well, Detroit Rock City lays out all that men want: 1) despite a man’s ugliness, skinniness or other inadequacies, he always wants to get the hottest, finest chick; 2) men want to have fun, and they’ll go to great lengths to have fun; 3) men want to pursue goals (like quests), especially goals that are fun; and 4) men want to be needed and admired. SPOILER WARNING. In Detroit Rock City, each boy becomes a man during a quest to secure tickets to the concert by the greatest rock ‘n roll band ever – KISS. In that quest, each “boy” gets pushed beyond his limit as he thwarts a villain, saves the girl, gets kissed or laid, and in the end, they, collectively, not only meet their goal of getting into the concert, but the bullies/bad guys all get theirs. By the end, they’ve become men - [insert caveman grunting here]! It’s a fun and funny late-70’s styled romp, which had me, if not laughing, then plastered with a silly grin all the way through.
But this is one of those moments where getting what I want – an understanding of men – has a double-edged sword. Okay, so men are not the bad guys that I generically thought them to be during my long, long, loooooong stretch of dating. They did not deserve my constant scrutiny or suspicion because there just wasn’t any wizard behind the curtain – what you see is what you get. And the girls who caught on to this early, as I’m now figuring out, were the ones who used to always get the guys. Because knowing the above allows one, when a guy misbehaved, to just wave it off as him being a guy; one could call him on his shit in a nice way, without the drama of having taken his actions personally. If I had known this before, I could’ve stayed or bailed on my relationships without getting all wracked up about what it was *I* had done wrong, because I could’ve, instead, assumed that I had done nothing wrong, that the failures of the relationship amounted to simply him being a guy.
But this is kind of the way I think of children. Is it the way I should be thinking of men? Which is why, I guess, men like my husband stand out. They do, at least attempt, to take responsibility for their actions. They do not pin all the responsibility on women to teach them good behavior. In other words, they step up. That’s a man. Which doesn’t mean my husband and men like him stop wanting to get the girl, have fun, pursue goals, or be appreciated and admired. It just means that I and the other circumstances around my husband are no longer responsible for his sense of self or his self-esteem – he is. And it also means that he won’t bail on me for some other admiring chick just because I’m having a bad week and can’t appreciate and admire him as much as he needs. Because his self-esteem will stay in tact even when I can’t step up. It means that, instead of whining when I can’t pay enough attention to him – because, you know, whining really gets a girl hot – he has enough self-esteem to do something to earn my attention, like offer me a foot massage or do the dishes without my asking. The Detroit Rock City guys would assume that it was my responsibility to admire them, not their responsibility to earn my admiration. See the difference? If not, no big deal. You’re just being a guy, right?
So, the double-edged sword: now that I know the holy secrets of men, do I follow it down the line, or do I continue to rebel as I have already been doing? I mean, do I just condescend and treat men as inferior (which appears to be the way the American majority likes things and is, thus, easier to live), or bail on any man who doesn't know how to take responsibility for his own actions and risk living a male-free life? The men who are in my life already, well too bad. I've been holding your feet to the fire and I will continue to do such. But what about forging new relationships - professional and platonic? I suppose that knowing what I know now allows me to, at a minimum, rebel with more confidence and certainty. And I suppose that maybe KISS was, after all, the greatest rock ‘n roll band ever.
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