Wednesday, May 18, 2011

So Women Are Like Cars? My Expansion On Fr. Murphy's Nudge Sunday

So, just like men are not the devil, women are not objects, car-like or otherwise.  That's not where I'm going with this.

Back in Doesn't 'Diablo' Mean Devil, I rambled a bit about how men show affection and  I admitted to not knowing too much about women.  Well, women other than myself.  I "get" myself pretty well and am, undoubtedly, a woman. 

This is meant to be a companion to the above mentioned post - though I must warn you that I'm going to take what is probably an unexpected road with it.  I no longer consider myself a religious person, per se, but I'm intensely interested in spirituality in any form (regardless of creed) and make my own development on those lines a priority in my life.  That being said, though I no longer limit my spiritual resources to solely Catholic choices, I still think the Bible has a lot of great advice in it.  There's one passage I love - one I used to hate.  Most women still do.  With this post, I hope to clean up it's bad name - especially since it's fantastic advice, when taken the right way.  (clearing my throat)

Colossians 3:18-19

"18 Wives, submit  yourselves to (or "obey", as I've always heard) your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them."

Hooo-boy.  These days, them's fightin' words.  But as is obvious in pretty much every corner of our reality - taken out of context, ANY Bible verse can be used as such.  For me (as for, I am sure, many women) this verse used to make my blood pressure sky rocket - even as I looked it up via Google (true to my Catholic foundation, I'm very familiar with the Bible, but studied it for content, not chapter/verse memorization), my hands started shaking in rage when, instead of the simple location of it, the first dozen were titles about how God, the Church, Christianity (and on, and on) are either "keeping women down" (written by irate women), or how the above authorities are "showing women their rightful place" (written by smug men...and a few women, strangely enough).  (okay, yes, my own prejudices are coming into play here)

All I wanted was the chapter/verse location.  Sheesh.  Hold on...

Ha HAH!  My dear friend Jo just sent me the information...I've copied and pasted (of course, you've already read that part...)

Anyway.  The seed for my current position on this matter was planted in my young adulthood by one of the most incredible priests in the world, Fr. Murphy (an honest to God, from-Ireland Irish priest).  This man is Great.  Even Marshall likes him.

It's Sunday morning.  I'm at Mass with my family (for non-Catholics, "Mass" is Catholic for "Service"), and here comes That Reading. 

I now live in an area where people seem to have many, MANY unfortunate run-ins with Catholicism.  Not only is this a shame, but it's actually kind of funny for me - I grew up in the South, and down there the Catholics are actually considered pretty darn liberal.  We dance, drink, have the Etch a Sketch Forgiveness System and with Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church actually flat-out admitted that folks don't have to be Catholic (or Christian) to go to Heaven.  Imagine my surprise when, moving here, every person I met, upon learning the flavor of my religious upbringing, expressed (intentionally complimentary) amazement that I wasn't a self-righteous bastard (humor on many levels there, I know).

To paraphrase Bill Cosby, "I told you that (paragraph) to tell you this":

That Reading. 

In our (relatively) liberal parish, the squirming started.  Husbands nudging their wives - wives dodging the nudges and giving their husbands looks that clearly spelled out "Remember that I'm the one who gives you sex.  Tread carefully, mother fucker." 

Well, that's how I read the faces.  Knowing the wonderful, classy, kind women in that parish, I can assure you, they would never dream of such language in their thought bubbles, despite the liberties taken in my translation.

I honestly can't remember if Fr. Murphy's laugh was knowing or nervous.  Clearing his throat for the homily (sermon):

"You know, I have always thought of this day as Nudge Sunday." 

(I'm sure I don't have to point out that he too explained the nudging/dodging/dirty look description more tactfully than I just did)

His talk was brilliant in its simplicity.  In fact, when he explained it, that verse just became plain old, common sense marriage advice.  In summary:  yes, it was a different time with different ideas about gender roles.  However, despite those differences, men back then did still love women, so to paint every last Biblical-era man as a misogynistic jackass was more than a little unfair.  So, let's take a walk on the wild side and allow that the English language is limited and there may be more to the story...

Ladies, you can tell your husband you love, respect, admire him...but if you don't back it up with actions, he ain't gonna' believe you.  (essentially, "obey" means "prove with actions that you dig him", not "bring his slippers, pipe and smoking jacket to him when he rings a bell")

Hold on - wasn't that the main thrust of the Diablo post?

But what about the men?  Love their wives?  Don't be harsh? We give up control over our own lives and they're just told to love us??  Seriously??  That's IT?!?!?

Well, if "obey" can be interpreted differently, why not "love" and "harsh"?  (heck, we all know love can be used to describe everything from affection for bunnies, beers and babies to sappy movies and a low tennis score)

And this is where the cars come in.  Stay with me, ladies, I'm bringing it around.

When explaining things to women, you can use all the words you want.  They will be interested, as long as what you say is interesting.  Men, on the other hand (as I've mentioned before) just don't like the talking as much.  So, when having this conversation with one of my favorite men, I used a metaphor that I thought would intrigue him.

"Women are like cars."

Head tilted, eyes a little squinty, he said "Okay, I'll admit - I'm interested."

Gentlemen, think about what the average car needs to run well.  Drive safely, decent fuel, never let the tank get below a quarter full, regular oil changes, inspections, cleaning.  If it starts making funny sounds, take whatever steps necessary to get everything back to functional.  Finally, drive it appropriately - an SUV is going to guzzle fuel in city traffic and a cute little sedan is going to self destruct in a myriad of ways if you take it on bumpy, lumpy, unpaved back roads.  Go ahead - crash into a few things, let the tank run dry, never change the oil, get it inspected or clean it out.  Use a VW bug to tow a horse trailer and see how far that gets you.  Not only will the car fall apart at the seams, the situation is going to smell really bad when it does.  See what I mean?

He did.

Okay.  What that has to do with Women:  Think about what it takes to keep the average man and woman love relationship working well (which, by the by, isn't limited to romantic ones.  Moms, daughters, sisters, skipping the sex stuff, this'll work with any woman you love - though you get into huge trouble if you try it with female friends - this is LOVE advice).  Drive safely - no physical abuse.  Decent fuel - give her attention, kindness, affection.  As for the quarter tank?  Don't make her go without the attention, kindness and affection for long periods of time (which may be the one that gets guys, especially really good guys, into the most trouble - fellas, read that one a few times).  Oil changes?  Let's have some fun with that and call it attention to keeping the sex life from getting stale.  Inspections?  Brother, you know you need to remember birthdays, anniversaries.  Cleaning?  Apologize if you fuck up.  If you've been following the above advice, she'll accept the apology gracefully (unless she's evil - then ditch the bi -eh hem...her).  Car's making noises?  When she objects to what you ask of her, take the time to not only listen to but hear her concerns - and then address them appropriately.

Have to say, most of the above is no-brainer stuff.  In all fairness, almost all of the men I know do their damnedest to treat their women that way. 

But the connection to That Reading?

Let's assume (for the sake of argument) that you are in a relationship where the woman in question is open to the obedience idea.  It's actually not as crazy as it sounds - most (good) women actually are.  I mean, ladies, who among us doesn't try to keep the peace?  Especially if our guy is so fucking awesome that he's really following through with all of the above? 

So men.  Stop for a moment and THINK ABOUT THE POWER YOU WIELD HERE.

IF you are in a relationship where you have the final word, that means you have an enormous amount of influence over the behavior of another human being.  THINK about how profound that is.  THINK about what it must take for her to trust you with that power.

"love your wives and do not be harsh with them."

This is not about chocolates and flowers.  LOVE your woman - take the time to get to know what she loves, hates, fears.  What makes her cry?  Brings her joy, heartbreak, anxiety?  And with that knowledge:

DO NOT BE HARSH WITH HER:  With the awesome (as in awe-inspiring) gift she has given, you better be doing your damnedest to stay within the bounds of what she is comfortable/happy to do.  Never, ever EVER abuse that power.  Never, ever EVER use that power to force her to act against her will.  Back to the car, don't expect that sexy sports car to be okay with back road deer season driving.  If she loves you, trusts you so much that she is willing to give you the gift of obedience, BE WORTHY OF HER TRUST.

It's like Scripture is telling women, "Look, I know this sounds crazy, but you know you don't want to handle every little bit of existence - that's what division of work is all about.  He's going to enjoy and excel at the decision stuff.  You like him, right?   What, you love him, too?  Then he must be a good guy.  Hey, if you disagree with what he wants you to do, then remember this: he loves you right back  (both naturally, and I gave him the SMACKDOWN directive to do so).  He genuinely wants you to be at peace with his wishes.  If you mirror the kindness he shows you when you tell him that something upsets you, he will do everything in his power to respect your concerns and adjust his demands (don't worry, that was definitely included in his orders)."

And then Scripture turns to the men and says, "Okay, guys.  I actually got her to agree to that.  BUT, since she has the brains to identify potential problems, she is very much aware of how easily this could backfire on her, the children and your entire life together.  DO NOT fuck this up by being an abusive jerk."

I have to say, to me, that seems pretty fair. 

Oh, and it works really well.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Long Overdue Thank You

According to my loved ones, when people first meet me, they recognize four things:

Initially: Someone feminine and soft looking (some even say pretty - and ain't that sweet?)

Once I open my mouth: Attitude - sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always honest and dripping with sarcasm.

After any kind of prolonged interaction: A Fucking Juggernaut - hope you like the show I'm running, 'cause the door's over there if you don't.

If they're still there after that: I'm an enormous fan of Nikki Sixx and his work.

As a mother, writer, Reader, decent astrologer and an ironic suburban housewife/soccer mom (I love that the suburbanite soccer mom is the part that bemuses me), folks find that last discovery both funny but unsurprising. Or maybe funny because, at least to them, it should be surprising?

Sixx just released a new book, titled This is Gonna Hurt. He is on a book tour and will be just a few hours south of me on May 6th (I considered naming this post ""She (Went) Down" on the 5th to Meet Sixx on the 6th", but that led to a few too many oral sex jokes "just what DID you do to get him to sign the book?" etc.. While my naughty sense of humor loved it, there was a problem...)

The jokes have been gentle, but numerous. All to the tune of my turning into some Beatlemania-esque crazed preteen, hastily escorted to the exits after accidentally cracking the man's ribs with a hug.

Because, obviously, I have such a crush on him, you see.

It hit me that, despite how I've gone on and on about his music, his writing, his strength, his efforts to help others...I haven't gotten any farther than the playful argument I had with Ms. J while we were still in high school:

"Yeah, 'cause that's a picture of his brain hanging on your wall."

Granted, when I was fourteen, I most certainly "loved" him as only a teenage girl can "love" a rock star. As an adult, can I appreciate that he was an exceptionally beautiful guy who has grown into an exponentially more attractive man? I most certainly can. (I have ADD/Asperger's - not parenting related, sleep deprivation induced blindness).

However:  Right now, despite how well he's aged, he feels more like a long time, cherished friend. And:

Instead of swooning over his dreamyohmygodhe'ssohot-ness, I currently find his good looks to be, since they're causing this drama for me, a pain in my ass. (what the hell, dude? can't you just fucking age??? it would make my life way easier right now...)

He may have helped me make peace with the fact that I'm a warrior instead of a docile peace maker (though I only bring the smack to those doing harmful things). He may have been a sympathetic (if metaphoric) comrade in arms, helping me vent anger through listening to his music (rather than lashing out at loved ones). His work may have helped carry me through my son's autism diagnosis and through watching September 11th from a window instead of a TV.

But my affection for him is just because he's super cute. Okaaaaayyyyy....

Through his work, his art, his struggle, his life - and his willingness to display it all "for the whole world to see", Sixx has been a positive force in my life for a little over twenty years. I hesitate to say that I "love" him, since that word is shamelessly overused in our language. I love my kids. I love the beach. I love writing. Each is a different kind of love. See?

Instead, I'd really like to give him a hand on a bad day - to be able to say "don't worry, brutha - I'll take care of that for you". It would wonderful to be in a position to reciprocate at least a little of the support and peace of mind he's given me over the years. Acknowledging the enormous debt I owe him has nothing to do with his looks. "Loving" him for the difference he's made in my life (and the lives of those who deal with me) is, I think, very different from rock star lust. So there.

When I had the opportunity to meet Norman Reedus, the entire experience, from finding out to coming home after the event, lasted under four days. I found out about Sixx's book signing almost a full month in advance. Which means that rather than just excited, I now have time to entertain a great deal of terror.

Marshal says, "Megan, he is just a guy. I'm sure he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us."

No doubt Marshal's right. Problem is, I'm not scared of Sixx - I'm scared of the time limit.

This is a one shot opportunity to thank this man for all he's done for me, knowing that he actually gets the information.  How do I fit it all in?

Harsh reality: I can't. Any attempt to do so will certainly result in the above described ejection. It would be amazing to know he remembered me...but as a girl with a heartfelt thank you, or as proof that even though he's been consciously trying to help others for the past several years, he's been making a huge damn difference in my life for over twenty. Or hell, even that I was the chick with the shock of pink hair and a thing for carnelian. Any of those would be great.

As a blubbering, inarticulate, emotionally short circuited fan getting dragged out? Not so much. That's the kind of memory that would inspire him to have his security team carry my picture.

Solution? Give him a handwritten letter expressing my personal thanks, a gift that will be (hopefully) helpful to him and be content that I've given back to him to the best of my ability.

Or I can try just a liiiiitle more...and hope he reads a blog entry if I post it to his wall...

POST SCRIPT: Upon reflection, I find it very, very funny that when dealing with the crazy trespasser scaring my kids (from the post, Neighbor on the (Pain in the) Backside,) I talked about WWMD (What Would Murdock Do?)...but ended up actually doing WICSSD (What I Could See Sixx Doing).