Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good talk, Russ

Don’t let the long, dark hair and five inch heels fool you, I’m a card carrying member of the “Boys Club.” I don't enjoy overly girly things like spa days or uber sappy movies like "The Notebook." To me, spending an afternoon at Macy’s in Herald Square is like spending a night with Freddy Krueger. My Worst. Farkking. Nightmare. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a nice pair of heels and a dress every now and then, but it’s usually more for someone else’s benefit than my own. If I had my way, I'd spend my days in boots and a pair of blue jeans or even better, my all black “Ninja” gym outfit, but unfortunately I have to keep up this femininity facade so I don't fall into this odd Samantha Ronson category. Because as often as I get hit on by girls, and it happens more than one would expect, well, I'm just not quite ready to venture into that uncharted territory… yet.

A long, long time ago.. in a suburb far, far away.. while my sister was busy with her Barbies, I was fascinated by my Pow Pow Power wheels and my Dad’s crazy ideas on how to make my bright red Jeep four wheeler go faster than Tyco had ever intended it to. (Of course, it did catch fire one time, but we won't go into that. Lesson learned.) I remember my Dad driving me to school in the ghetto, because they bussed all of us suburb kids there in attempts to either harden us as human beings, or scare us into getting a proper education. He would be cranking Jethro Tull, or The Beatles, or his all time favorite, Billy Joel as we made our way through the maze of pawn stores, liquor stores, and gun shops before we pulled in the parent drop off line. So I sacrificed the 30 minute ride, countless retellings of his “roadie days” stories, and any street cred I could’ve had by exiting the car in front of the cool kids jamming to Dad’s old school tunes. But in the heat of those late August days, that thirty minutes of air conditioning far surpassed spending my afternoons crammed into the faux leather seats in a pool of the kid next to me’s ass sweat.

The truth is.. while some kids are embarrassed by their parents at this particular age… I was actually quite proud of mine. Sure, they had their quirkiness about them, but I think it was more just a generational thing than anything else. After all, it’s why my friends dubbed them Clark and Helen Griswolds. They were the kinda parents any kid would be lucky to have, and I just happened to be one of those kids. While some would argue I was a Daddy’s girl, I would tend to disagree. I think I was an “equal parts” kinda kid. I had my mom’s no nonsense stubborn, independent streak with my dad’s streets savvy and go-with-the-flow attitude. In short, I was the like the “son my father always wanted” trapped in the body of a girl that would later force him to purchase & “load up” many a metal baseball bats with a weight.. making them great for hitting serious line drives or dismantling some kids jaw should he break his daughter’s heart.

My dad will never admit this, but I’m sure some part of him is a little sad God gave him two girls. He has no one to blame but himself though. After all, it wasn’t my mother’s fault.. she was only capable of donating 50% of the kid. The rest was left to chance & God. Karma being the bitch that she is, decided my father needed to suffer for something he did in a previous life, and gave him 2 X’s, which in bowling would’ve been quite awesome. But in the Russian roulette of his little swimmers… well, they have a site to list those kinds of stories.. Gone are the chances he had to toss a ball around in the backyard. Forget going to Varsity football games, unless you count being a band or dance team chaperone. And God save us all if mom leaves it up to him to have the birds and the bees speech with us.

“They.. uh.. teach you kids that in school now right?”

“Yup Dad.”

“Whew… Good talk Russ.”

Yup, instead it was Spice Girls, Drum major uniforms, & a crap load of boring piano recitals. That didn't stop him from instilling tom boy like qualities in me. I love fast cars, sports, and anything that causes an adrenaline rush. Unfortunately, I’m just not coordinated enough to play anything remotely cool. And despite the beast of a car I own, I am still a female driver with an extensive accident record and the speeding tickets to prove it. Sigh.

But one thing my dad has always been good for… is advice. After all, if you want to know how the other half thinks, it works best when you can just ask one of their own. Mom’s have a tendency to sugar coat things. They would never want to be the one to make you cry. But Dads? No way. Dad’s are straight-shooting, no bullshitting kinda people. They’ll hand you the answer even if it’s something you would have preferred not to hear.

“Why do guys do this? Why’d he say that? What should I do?..” And the most heartbreaking question I'll ever have to ask him .. “Will he come back?”

Time after time, he’d give it to me straight. Maybe that's because men tend to view their interactions with others as more business-like transactions, while women can't help but get emotional sometimes. We’re just hardwired that way. My father was the captain of the stone faced stare. I think he may have cried four times in his entire life.

One day I got to thinking though.. What if I had really been a boy? If I'd have been a boy, people would have taken my drive to succeed more seriously. Guys wouldn't be shocked when I step out of my Shelby or when I spout off movie quotes. My voice wouldn't blend into the background of conversations, and my opinions wouldn't always be dismissed for those of my male counterparts. My jokes, my sense of humor, and general mischievous perversion wouldn't be so frowned upon, or viewed as social awkwardness. And if I stood up for myself I certainly wouldn't be called a bitch. I'd just be assertive.

More so.. I've always said, if I were a boy, I'd make an awesome boyfriend. It’s not that I'd be some sappy chump that gets turned out by man eating bitches, because I certainly have more backbone than that. But I'd definitely know how to treat a woman while still maintaining my sense of self. Basically, I’d be the same person I am today, only with an Ellen DeGeneres haircut.

Sometimes I think my membership to the fraternity does my brain more harm than good. Because for every promise I’ve had a man keep, I've heard him spout some other bit of absolute bullshit he fell through on. I know their games better than they do. And that being so, I could probably run them if I wanted to. Better than they do. And I'd never get caught. But that wouldn't make it right. Besides, I’m a woman.. I have no penis to “think with” and more importantly… we have consciences. Damn all this estrogen.

The fact my brain operates like a man’s is downright scary sometimes. It creates a ton of inner turmoil. Why? Because the logical or “male” part of my brain tells me one thing, while my inner chick gives me a while different set of instructions. The result? Awkwardness that usually manifests itself in my life as some self sabotaging behavior. I find myself trying to balance two totally different sides of my personality, playing up the one society says will help me be accepted, while banishing the one that shows I do indeed have weaknesses otherwise known as “feelings.”

I’ve had a lot of these arguments with myself lately, both congratulating myself for my professional accomplishments, while calling offensive pass interference on my dating life. 10 yards.. 4th down. How could I keep doing this to myself?.. Was I really saving myself from getting involved with bad people, or was I keeping myself from evolving as an adult. Even if I like a guy, I would be the first to pull the plug if I sense there is any bullshit being pulled behind the scenes. Or I’d make excuses as to why I couldn’t go on dates… “my career dictates my social life.” It got to the point where I valued my quality time with the treadmill over the company of other human beings. That was the most recent predicament I found myself in, weighing my options in my current situation as “complicated” as it already was.

Trying to keep it casual while actually having feelings for someone, coupled by only seeing each other once a month or so, really wasn't cutting it for either of us. So I simply just waited for the other shoe to drop. When it did, I didn't cry or get upset. I actually.. felt relieved. It wasn't that I didn’t care for him, because our times together were like spending days on end in this super "high." It was more so... well, he's just not the boyfriend type, and I'm not the girlfriend type. And neither of us has time for anything messy or remotely complicated. I know what you're thinking... "Jenn.. you're so full of shit." And until the other night.. I would have argued with you. But now.. I'm not so sure.

One night, as I was leaving the gym, I happened to walk through the lobby and discover a brand new piano sitting in the rec room. Sure, it wasn’t my grandmother’s old upright Steinway… but it would do. It’s been so long, I wondered if I even remembered how to play. As I sat down at the piano, years of lessons and performances came rushing back to me. But it wasn't Fur Elise, or Beethoven’s Fifth that came from beneath my fingers. It was something much more familiar.

By the time I reached the chorus, I was already singing along, oblivious to the people that had gathered in the doorway behind me.

"And the waitress is practicing politics

As the businessmen slowly get stoned

Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness

But it's better than drinkin' alone"

Somewhere in the chorus that followed, my voice cracked, and I realized there was a tear rolling down my cheek. I blinked through it as if it had been a technical glitch in my system, but then another tear followed suit.

As my hands rolled through the final chords, I heard the door close behind me. The crowd that had gathered in the door way had dispersed, and all that remained was the quiet little door man. He had to be in his late 60s, and his English was broken.

"You're very, very good," he said, "but why so sad?"

That's a great question, because I honestly had no idea. I think sometimes I go to such great lengths to put up walls, I block everything out. Maybe it’s alright to feel something. To feel homesick, to feel lonely, to feel hurt, to just.. Feel. I’m so used to people disappointing me that I’ve almost become numb to it… like.. emotionally botoxed.

"Please don't tell anyone I was in here.." I asked.

"Don't mention it. It’s no problem"

My time in the city has done a number on me. It’s made me a much more cynical, hardened version of myself, so much so… I really feel like I’ve morphed into my father. He always did his best to protect that my inner little girl for as long as he could, telling me to “grow a thicker skin” or to “toughen up.” And in some instances, I think it worked. I’m sure now he realizes I'm old enough, and have made enough mistakes in love and life to usually handle myself. But every once in a while, my father’s tough exterior will break down, and he’ll show a little compassion to the sensitive side in me, and not the hard ass he's tried so desperately to raise to protect her from boys like his old self.

"If a guy isn't smart enough to realize what he's got in front of him,” he’ll say, “he's not worth hanging on to. Regardless of any of the crap people tell you.. even the best relationships require work. And you are the hardest working woman I know next to your mother. You just have to focus on your career right now, and the rest will happen when their supposed to. Because the guy that's smart enough to see what he's got, will be the one that will never let you go."

The bad ass boy in me thinks he's spouting a crock of crap.

The inner girl in me.. Secretly hopes he's right. But I’ll never let him know.

“Thanks Daddy.”

“Good talk, Russ.”


Unknown said...

You are very brave to put all of these emotions out for the world to see, must be very cathartic. On the lighter side. If you live in NYC where do you park the Shelby???


Anonymous said...

Happy Fathers day Jenn!! VERY nice!! :)

Mike In California!!

Joel said...

This was a great read and I am sure your father is proud to have two girls. My father passed away in October of last year so, it's great to see you appreciate your father and what he has done for you.

HotCarlforYoEar said...

Really well-written... I can totally relate to your statement of "It got to the point where I valued my quality time with the treadmill over the company of other human beings".

Long story short, I've been in a similar situation to yours- stick it out a little while longer kid- it'll get better. Just remember to retain what your learn from that experience and apply it.

Mix Masta B said...

Every time I read one of your blogs I find myself saying, I know exactly what she means. I know that sounds cliché or the cool guy running game and agreeing with the girl just to get on her good side, but I really relate to your blogs. Obliviously I don’t relate to being a female who thinks like a guy lol, but I understand what it is like to be so sick and tired of being in bad relationships.

Society doesn’t want or allow guys to be emotional we have to be tough macho men who let everything roll off our backs as if it were nothing. Then there are those times where you don’t think with your penis and actual open up to people and have a heart. God as my witness I have always tried to be that guy who did and said all the right things. I don’t believe in the player lifestyle or cheating. I never was and never will be that type of guy. I have plenty of friends who live life that way and I always find it kicking them in the ass later on. Also I think it is because I never had a strong relationship with my father. Not to say I am some sissy mama’s boy, but I always had an open mind towards others and their feelings and I got that from my mom. I am a caring and giving person because of her and sometimes I can be blinded by my kindness and that is usually when bad things happen.

After you been programmed to care about others and give to others you have a hard time doing anything but that. The problem is when people take advantage of that kindness its like getting kicked in the stomach. Then you start to wonder why care about others and why give to others when no one cares or gives back in return. Maybe I am just too stubborn or stupid to learn a lesson, but I been kicked in the stomach a lot of times because I was doing what I felt inside was the right thing. However as many times as I have been kicked a little bit of me each time becomes tougher and then that “wall” goes up. I focus so much in my career that I rather do that then feel that kind of pain again. You make mention about wanting to pull the plug on a relationship at the slightest of ill will. I can relate to that too because I don’t want to deal with the drama that I have been through time and time again and rather just say forget it and be done with the relationship then feel like my efforts were worthless.

I think the only thing anyone can do is continue to go forward in life with an open mind and open heart and really hope for the best. In other words just let things happen, your dad said it best any relationship you are in even the best of them requires work. So with all that said you just have to continue to be cautious but also never give up. Love and relationships were not meant to be easy. Plus sometimes the reward is that much greater when you know you put your true feelings and effort into something then if it were just handed to you.

Thanks for your blogs, it reminds me that I am not the only person who feels certain ways. It also shows you are a regular person and there is nothing more attractive then someone who is honest with you and themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenn, Great blog once again. There still nice guys out there, you will find one eventually. And remeber relationships do not equally happiness. Btw awesome car I'm looking at my 94 civic and cringing as I type this.

Steve Richey said...

I admire you for realizing what you are and you are right. If someone cannot see it to bad for them. I have been there and done that and I am a little older but maybe not wiser than you.I am a hopeless romantic but just seeing people for what they are I think everyone should have to wear a sign with their wants and intentions. Would make things much easier.Jenn one thing I have learned the hard way though trial and pain is nice guys usually do unfortunately finish last. A jaded view. Probably but from experience.And I am single and middle aged so I have been around.Maybe it is the way we are?

Warren Wallace said...

We're all products of our environment Jenn, and with the amount of time you've spent in NYC/NJ it was inevitable that you would eventually begin to morph into a more hardened, cynical version of yourself. Don't beat yourself up over it, but also don't let that cynicism allow you to become that person who makes a habit of sabotaging relationships prematurely just to avoid getting hurt. As for Russ, I already like him for his taste in music! More importantly his compassionate relationship advice to you is spot on correct. The way I see it you're situation is very unique, so it might take you a little longer to find an authentic guy that fits the mold you're looking for, but your odds are seriously good that it will happen. Oh...and I can play the harmonica part to Piano Man, so when you're ready let's start a band :)

Chris said...

You have a Shelby? Respect.

Johnny Amp said...

Nicely done. Having a good dad growing up is definately a good thing. When you are younger you don't get why they do things, then you grow up and it is amazing how they held it all together.

anthony0358 said...

What a beautiful blog for Father's Day!
Happy Father's Day to everyone!
We wish your dad well
He must so proud of all his children

Sazal said...

Absolutely beautiful well done.


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