Sunday, September 19, 2010

a poet's guide to courtship

What do I do when I cannot write? I read.

Needless to say, I've been doing quite a bit of that. Poems, mostly, snippets of them running ticker tape through my head, which feels a bit like Times Square before a matinee. Which is to say: hot. Loud. Insufferable.

Yeats, that old dog, cheated on his wife and died of ripeness. But still he had the nads to write "Never give all the heart"—and bully for him. His reason:

". . . for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss."

The audacity of his advice to young lovers, the men who come calling with their toolboxes full of torture devices, astounds me. Thank you, Billy Butler, for legitimizing the age old tradition of head games and heart wrecking. The Ophelias of the world plug their noses and practice drowning.

A little advice to those listening: We the weaker sex do not prefer to be left in the dark by the phone.

I once thought I could sell a dating manual for men that would fit onto a business card. One side would say simply: "Man up and state your business." The other would read: "Decide what you want and then be there. Do that."

That is all we want. To know. Think of all the angst you could eliminate, the analysis of actions, the overanalysis of tone. I have a hundred women behind me. You are not special. We do not fall automatically in love. We are not immediately obsessed, monogramming towels and tote bags.

You are not special because you are a man and I am a neurotic creature. You are special because you are special to me. But I can live without you. My brain was born for other, bigger questions and I resent the space you take with your flimsy indecision.

I, we, do not need you to make the world any harder. So spare us the decade of drama from kiss to kiss. Declare your intentions and be done with it. Any passionate woman worth her salt will not shy away from certainty. For chrissakes, it will give her a chance to breathe and be herself.

Dorothy Parker said it best. "I should think it would be so sweet to be sure."

To tell the truth, I'm humbled and a little humiliated by my own inability to break the cycle. I've been down here for eighteen days now, with nothing but space. The precious commodity of time was mine for the taking and I have next to nothing to show for myself. A string of wasted days. Nights undersleeping, mornings oversleeping and nightmare after nightmare.

Right before I left, I bought myself a card, one of those inspirational messages printed in block letters from Barnes & Noble. And it says: "This is your world. Shape it or someone else will." I suppose that's what I'm most afraid of here. That I'm allowing someone else shape my world for the worse.


Scarlet-O said...

oh gabby why do you think you chase all these game-players around? isnt it just a bit fun for you? billy butler was a bit cynical there, more just funny, and generally true-- lust fades-- not always after one night and one dance, sometimes after years, and sometimes we don't care, i mean i agree with you-- i find gameplayers a TURNOFF-- when a man dotes on me from day one it looks sexy and confident to me, and really just GETS ME. and now i find myself having played nothing but mindF for a whole year... so... i dunno


Erie Lackawanna said...

Would you remove all mystery from romance? would you reduce it to a simple algorithm or fill in the blank form of a dating website? Communication is essential, but is there no room for some subtlety, some chasing, some reason to extend a message or send the roses with bated breath, counting the minutes until she receives your message and hoping she will favor you with a reply? Should every question in the heart be instantly answered, googled, no mystery in the interaction betwen man and women?
That is not a world i want to live in. Love is great when it works in part because we know the pain, the angst, the uncertainty
to reach it. Life is not a fairy tale. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Neither mastery of an art, nor deep love. It is in our nature to seek union with another, but successful relationships take some work. On both sides. Sometimes they are explosions, but more often they re seedlings that are nurtured. Have some faith, and start believing in yourself, your feelings. He will respond in kind. Maybe slower than you would like. But sometimes the tortoise does win.

Bathwater said...

Dare I say, there was a boy who stated his intentions well who was left without a second thought for this man who is nothing but torture.

So I most ask, before you start to sell this one page book, if I'll be any better off for reading it ;).

I'm sorry for the jab, I know how you feel. Yet I am a man and I'm on the other side of the coin :).

The battlefield is not one sided and you are not always the weaker sex.

Anonymous said...

All aboard the Erie Lackawanna! Well said, and I think right on target. Clarity is a wonderful thing but it usually comes with time and nurturing. Instant answers aren't always the best.

In the meantime read that card you bought and take charge. Shape your own answers. And don't stop writing.

Anonymous said...

Simply stated -- "This is your world. Shape it or someone else will."

Funny that something so simple takes so long to learn.

Phoenix said...

I would agree that men are most appealing when they know what the hell they are doing, which is not very often. It is not as simple, Erie, to say that we would prefer no mystery in our romance, just that we don't like to feel as if there is no solid ground on which we are building expectations, slowly but surely. A man who does not show up is not a mystery; he is an asshole. It is up to the men of this world to decide which he wants to be; and it is up to the women of this world not to put up the latter.