In the dim, receding weeks prior to “retirement”, today would have qualified as a Sick Day. I knew it last night, even before bed; that feeling of total decompression which marks the depletion of all productive energy. The knowledge that nothing of any quality would emerge from me in the day to come.
Granted, I did have symptoms; my doc did call in a prescription; I did take the pill. But, I was already cooked.
Now, sitting here mid-day in scruffed pajamas, in the increasing silence of the seasoned single life, I find just enough impetus for yet another essay poised on the docket. This one, the result of musings on men, and their ever-present transparencies; this one, about the man who is no longer there.
Seems that, the more cock-sure the male, the more the female can clearly see his skin beneath all those flamboyant feathers. Women sin by saying too much, doing too much, moving too fast, and asking too many questions. Men commit only one transgression, however: the sin of omission.
When a man tells a woman he wants no more contact with her, at all, what he’s really saying is: I have found another, more appealing choice. Why? Because everybody knows that a man would never turn down his cake unless he had another cake that he could both have and eat. When a man tells a woman with whom he’s enjoyed multiple daily communications for several weeks that he has nothing in common with her, what he’s really saying is: I no longer need anything from you, because I have replaced you with somebody else.
When a man forgets an anniversary, he is saying that he no longer wants to remember the day he made commitment. And, when a man describes all his former girlfriends and/or wives as mentally ill, what he’s really saying is that he drove them all to the abyss.
Women of my generation are far more tenacious than modern girls. We were taught to make it work – probably because, when it wasn’t, we were somehow to blame. We were taught that the lion’s share of our energy was to be spent cultivating in ourselves the kind of woman meant for the best kind of man. Then, once we had managed to snag the best man, any remaining energy was to go toward maintaining his happiness. If he wasn’t happy, he’d look around for something better – so, we’d better keep at it. Nobody told us that our needs should always come first. Nobody told us that there was no best man.
Maybe this is why men omit. Somehow, they always have something to hide. Maybe it’s a weakness for trusting scheming, self-serving younger girls. Maybe covering their tracks allows men to believe nobody will ever lift the veil that obscures them. Maybe they embarrass themselves on a daily basis, half the time unawares, and always realize it when it’s already too late.
It’s important for women of every honorable age to recognize that we ascribe to men traits that they do not possess. They are not the knights, the princes, or even the kings of all they survey; rather, they are fallible, mortal creatures, living in bodies capable of both great feat and encroaching decay. Just like us. Half the time, they have no idea what they want, either in a woman or in any arena of life. We owe them the respect of this recognition, and the willingness to dismiss our notions of their grandeur so that we can live without them. Because, even when they are right by our side, they are usually miles and miles away.
There. That’s my offering for a sick day in November. The sun reminds us that it will not forsake us, even in the dreary, impending doom of the first snow. Maybe I’ll sleep some more, maybe not; the quietly ticking ceramic wall clock will carry on. Best to engage the body, and gather enough energy to meet the moment alone. Being just sick enough to stop has served its better purpose today.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo
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