Friday, August 04, 2006

If men are from Mars then women are from a whole 'nuther universe. Or vice versa.

Otherwise titled: Why Sassy Pants threw herself a post-birthday-eve party pity party.

Friendster Guy and I had a communication misunderstanding of epic, potentially catastrophic, proportion. What was not expressed in my last post about my birthday was that after my Birthday Eve party I cried myself to sleep thinking I was going to have a repeat of last year's birthday - an event, or lack thereof, that was pretty much the straw that broke my marriage's back.

Awhile back I had sent Friendster Guy an email saying something along the lines of "I would like to go out to dinner somewhere nice for my birthday. Here are some options. Surprise me."

What I meant was "For the love of all things good and pure in this world, do not make me plan my own birthday."

What he translated it to mean was, "If* you make plans, do NOT tell her you did. Surprise her."

So, FG, being the wall of unreadableness that he is, can carry off a "surprise" really well. So well in fact that from 10pm August 2nd to 6:30pm August 3rd I was in a funk of grand proportions thinking that there were no plans for my birthday. My friend N also got the same impression from things FG said at my birthday-eve party, but was still rooting for him to come through. I was not so hopeful and entered a spiral of self-doubt and depression ending somewhere around "Oh my god I can't be with this person if he doesn't understand how important this is." The kind of spiral where you have the fleeting "Maybe I'll get hurt somehow (car accident, loss of appetite to the point of starvation, random kidnapping) and won't that show him! He won't know how good I am and how much he cares about me until it's too late!" Women - I know you are nodding your head saying, "been there, done that". Men - I'm sure you are just horrified that we'd even go there. But we do. Oh yes, we do.

FG knew about the horrible happenings around my birthday last year so I was absolutely panicked thinking the lesson hadn't sunk in. Obviously I am still nursing old wounds. They got re-opened a little in the last couple days. Luckily for my sanity and his safety, FG came through and had reservations at a nice restaurant. We had a lovely dinner and a discussion of the funk - what it meant, where it came from, how it could be avoided in the future. I have been defunkified.

I'd like to offer a piece of advice to all my male readers:
It is not the thought that counts, it is the effort. What do I mean? It is one thing to think about doing something for your lady or think something about your lady. It is another thing to somehow make that thought escape the confines of your brain and actually take shape in the real world. Have you put any amount of effort into letting her know you care about her? Not just on her birthday but every day? If you are thinking she looks cute, say it! If you were thinking about buying her flowers, do it! If you were thinking about her at work, tell her somehow! Women are surprisingly easy to please. But as FG jokingly said last night, men don't even realize it's necessary to do so. BELIEVE ME, it is!

I'd like to share some words of advice from my friend** Billy Joel. Men, you should add these to your instruction book on women. We know you don't usually read the instructions but you probably already know the words. Now take a second and really listen to them.

Listen boy I don't want to see you

Let a good thing slip away
You know I don't like watching anybody
Make the same mistakes I made
She's a real nice girl and she's always there for you
But a nice girl wouldn't tell you what you should do

Listen boy I'm sure that you think
You got it all under control
You don't want somebody telling you
The way to stay in someone's soul
You're a big boy now and you'll never let her go
But that's just the kind of thing she ought to know

Tell her about it, tell her everything you feel
Give her every reason to accept that you're for real
Tell her about it, tell her all your crazy dreams
Let her know you need her, let her know how much she means

Listen boy, it's not automatically a certain guarantee
To insure yourself, you've got to provide
Communication constantly
When you love someone, you're always insecure
And there's only one good way to reassure

Tell her about it, let her know how much you care
When she can't be with you, tell her you wish you were there
Tell her about it, everyday before you leave
Pay her some attention, give her something to believe

Cause now and then, she'll get to worrying
Just because you haven't spoken for so long
Though you may not have done anything
Will that be a consolation when she's gone?

Listen boy, it's good information
From a man who's made mistakes
Just a word or two that she gets from you
Could be the difference that it makes
She's a trusting soul, she's put her trust in you
But a girl like that won't tell you what you should do

Tell her about it, tell her everything you feel
Give her every reason to accept that you're for real
Tell her about it, tell her all your crazy dreams
Let her know you need her, let her know how much she means

Tell her about it
Tell her how you feel right now
Just tell her about it
The girl don't want to wait too long
You got to tell her about it
Tell her now and you won't go wrong
You got to tell her about it
Before it gets too late
You got to tell her about it
You know the girl don't want to wait
You got to tell her about it
You got to tell, tell, tell her about it
Tell her about it

Pay particular attention to this verse:
Cause now and then, she'll get to worrying
Just because you haven't spoken for so long
Though you may not have done anything
Will that be a consolation when she's gone?

I am an expert at this kind of worrying. Mostly because my past experience was a slow and steady decline into nothingness. I don't want the nothingness! I want to know what you are thinking so I don't have to wonder what you are thinking. Or discover I'm not being thought about at all.

Men - the technology age is both your friend and your enemy. Use it wisely. The immediacy of email does funny things with time. One hour now feels like five if you haven't responded. And 24 hours is an eternity. Your girlfriend (or spouse) is totally freaking out that you don't love them anymore. They are entering the top of the spiral into self-doubt. It ain't pretty, but it's true. Technology can also be your friend though. Text messaging is perfect. It's short, it's easy, and it does the job. A quick "Hey there!", "XOXOXO", "Thinking of U", "Miss U" or, if you're in this stage, "Luv U" would do so much to ease her mind (MY mind - FG. You getting this?) it's not even funny. And if you are seeing her in person, a compliment is never out of line. And if you're in one part of the house and she's in another, feel free to shout, "Hey, I miss you!"

Go out and make her day boys! Be a hero. It's really not that hard.

* Apparently there was still the potential for no plans. Luckily, he managed to dodge the bullet on this one.

** Not my actual friend but a damn wise man.


hilllady said...

This post brings up a lot of confusing stuff, SP. On the one hand, I totally and completely recognize the feeling you describe, of wanting someone to "just know" what it is I want (because somehow asking for it directly would spoil it?). On the other hand, I have a tremendous sympathy for the other party, tasked with perpetual mind-reading duties. Don't we relinquish a significant amount of our self-efficacy and personal power when we put the responsibility for our happiness in someone else's hands? Is this really what we want from our relationships? I don't question the intensity of your experience, but I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm coming to see that we need to look at this in feminist terms, not as a men-will-be-men vs. women-will-be-women scenario.

(Happy birthday, btw--and glad FG came through!)

DecemberFlower said...

Now, I would disagree on the text message part, and probably only that. Text messages are extremely impersonal, and they generally strike me as pretty thoughtless.

NinjaMama said...


You've got a keeper. When we find someone that is willing to face our psycho tendencies with us and laugh about it later, it is a rare find. (I know, I've got one)

Happy Birthday