Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Now Let Us Praise Good Men Again

Recently the shipment of my library arrived at the Historical House, and after B.A. put together four bookcases, I began to take the books out of their boxes. Oh, my little beauties!

One of the books is super-trashy, the sort of book you would hide from your mother if you had it, even if it did not constitute an occasion for sin for you, and I found it on a sale table for something like $2. But the thing is, this book contains splendid advice on getting along with men. (What a hoot!) And so it has strongly influenced how I get along with men, even though there are parts of this book I cannot read in good conscience and I am now hiding it from B.A.  As we graduates of Jesuit schools like to say about the weirdest stuff, "God in all things!"

The first message of this amusing-and-useful-but-shameful book is that in order to get along with men, you must repeat a mantra in your head, the first part being "Men are wonderful" and the second being "I am wonderful." The book's premise is that if you convince yourself of these beliefs, men will flock to you. If you truly believe not only that men are fabulous, but that you are fabulous and fun, attractive and clever, says this book, then men will also think that you are fabulous and fun, attractive and clever.  And speaking as a woman who is fabulous and fun, attractive and clever, I think Amusing-If-Shameful Book Lady has a point.

Complaining about men is an enjoyable female hobby, mostly because coming to a consensus makes groups of women feel cozy and knitted together, supported, loved and understood. Also, not only can you get high on remembered disappointment and rage, everyone listening to your story can get high on it too. Anyone who was ever actually jilted at the altar could dine out on it. Then her hostesses to say to other women, "You know, I once met a woman who actually WAS jilted at the altar." ("No! Really?" "Yes, she was actually, right there, in the church, in her wedding dress, and the organist played Pachebel's "Canon in D", like, six times before he called it quits.")

However, complaining about men (says Useful-if-Trashy-Book-Lady) is bad for your inner man magnet. She doesn't provide advice about how to not get sucked into complaining about men at a women's complaint-about-men fest, but I recommend saying, "I'm not going to say anything bad about men because I don't want to mess up my inner man magnet." This will turn the conversation to what an inner man magnet may be.

The easiest way to stop complaining about men is to find some very nice men to hang out with. For example, when I went to theology school, I met some really great men. They were mostly male religious, aged 28 to 90, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that they were really great. They were clever, devout, interesting, friendly and on a mission from God.

And, although, yes, life still threw a rat or two in my path, after my stint in theology school, I met other great men, men who reminded me at least slightly, or on a subconscious level, of the great guys in theology school. My ex-boyfriend Volker, for example, whom I dated when I was in Boston, was definitely of the Great Guys at Theology School calibre. And I ended dating on a high note because of course some time after we broke up, I met B.A.

I am now tempted to ponder whether I should have been taken out of my elementary school, to get me away from all the baby rats before they gave me a negative attitude towards men, but that would be complaining about men, and potentially mess up my inner man magnet, which I need to keep B.A. happy, so I will focus on good men.

As far as I know, all the men I have met in Scotland are great. Scotland itself has quite the violent crime rate, so this is not because Scotland is an earthly paradise (except in terms of scenery and historical houses). I think it is because my inner compass has been set to "Good Guys like Jesuit Pals and B.A.," so firmly that I can't even see the bad guys. And, actually, if B.A. or any of our friends says something egregiously naughty, I almost never hear it. I know someone has said something, but that's it. Along with selective good-guy vision, I have selective good-guy hearing.

Cynical eavesdroppers will suggest that this is because I work from home and the only men I meet are at church. But this is not true, for I have also met some of my husband's non-church friends, and they are also great guys. And I have also met friends of church friends at parties and events, and they also seem to be great guys. The very workmen who come into the Historical House to look for bats or examine the pipes or test the appliances seem to be great guys or, since I never really have proper conversations with them, nice men. The only bona fide, proven lousy guys I have had to deal with in Scotland were (A) a big group of probably drunk foreigners who snatched at my friend and grabbed my head (Mendy!) and B) two probably drunk locals who objected to my coat (fur) and my hat (posh and Tory-looking).

But I refuse to end this post with lousy guys, so I will recall the carpark after Mass this week, positively thronging with good men, aged 24 to 65, festooned with tweed and pin-striped suits, colourful ties, audacious pocket squares and interesting socks. Positively scrumptious, my dears. Now go and write about how marvellous men are in the combox.


Eowyn said...

I've been having trouble waking up on time lately, and so my boyfriend just phoned me to wake me up and now Iam up in time to eat and pray and actually be prepared for work. Yay! Another young man I know has agreed to do a rather time-consuming volunteer task for my school in which he has specific expertise. My dad drives me to the grocery store every week so that I don't need to haul my grocs on the bus and so he has a chance to hang out with me. Men ARE good.

Roadkill Rhapsody said...

Well... I'm not good at praising men in general, but I should say at least that my spiritual directors both deserve a 'marvellous' from me. The first took me on when I was a wreck, and he gave me back my life and my faith. Then he met with a gruesome accident that robbed him of most of his life, and another priest stepped in - and I can't imagine anything less exciting for an overworked priest than the discovery that he's just inherited someone else's directee!

Seraphic, one of the things I love about your blog is the way you continually turn my mind back to life's blessings!

Magdalena said...

Men are great! A few days ago, my parents visited me, and my father got up in the morning before breakfast, fixing all the broken cupboard doors in my kitchen that were bothering me for months. And that without me telling him he should do that. He just looked around to see if anything needed to be done.
And the husband of a friend offered to change all my power plugs so they fit the wall sockets of this country.
And my brother-in-law recently hypnotized my broken dish washer which now works again without problems.
I love it when they voluntarily offer to do the mens' work in my household! (I could probably do most of it myself, but I am frightened of everything which has to do with electricity.)

Grad in a big city said...

I'm in that awful phase of grad school where I'm so close to the end I can taste it, but not sure how I'm ever going to make it there in one piece. There are experiments still not planned (after many failed completely), let alone written up to be defended.

If I make it at all, it will be due in large part to my dear friend who is helping me brainstorm solutions where my advisors have failed, dedicating his time and thought to my work, and reminding me of good reasons that I ought to stick it out and finish. Useful reasons, like "your work is interesting and important in these ways," and "you are really good at [your field], so you should not quit," and "you can be really important and get a good job if you try, because you are good." Not things like "but you're so close, it would be such a shame," which are not really helpful.

So he deserves a huge public (if anonymous) thank you for dragging me across the line.

IAmWomanHearMePurr said...

Hear Hear!! Seraphic I whole heartily agree with your view on men! Men are simply wonderful!
I will praise men in celebration of your post :)

From kisses and praises from younger brothers, to gruff protective warnings to the unwanted from older brothers and father, to unfailing spiritual guidance and a genuine friend in my priest, to gallant gestures of respect and care from male friends, Chivalry is not completely dead! Men are wonderful creatures who make the world go round with so much more fun then if we didn't have them!

"What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! " - ahh Shakespeare had it right.

MaryJane said...

I just love men. Just yesterday one gave up his seat for me on the tram and this morning another listened to me rant about an incredibly frustrating situation I was in at the moment I happened to bump into him. Both are colleagues: both also happen to be priests.

I'm also grateful for the men who work at the cappuccino bar... being called "very beautiful American girl" every day is awfully nice, even if it's foreign hyperbole :) Plus they make really good coffee, which is a lifeline.

ladywisdom said...

My opinion of men was almost entirely formed by my dad, who is the most patient and kind (and teasingly humorous) person I have ever known. I sometimes think I'm still single because I haven't met another man who measures up.

Also I'd like to mention numerous young men who attend the college I work at, who have cheerfully carried heavy items and squished spiders for me on many occasions.

MaryJane said...

I know I've already posted, but I just had such a delightful afternoon I had to share. Since I am studying at a university where the overwhelming majority of students are priests, I am often the "odd woman out," so to speak. This isn't always a bad thing (I have no intention of sticking my nose into priestly business) but at times it does get a little lonely.

One group of priests from another foreign country and I (so we are all "strangers" at this International Univ.) have become friends through the course of our language classes. The first week all we could say to each other was hello, and maybe where we were from, and that's about it. Now we have many conversations - probably not all of them grammatically correct :) - and have hung out outside of class several times. Despite coming from a slightly "clericalized" culture, they have always treated me like a colleague and yet maintained a proper sense of their state in life: a very difficult balance to achieve!

Today, we had planned to get lunch because exams start soon and we will be going our separate ways. To my utter surprise and delight, when I arrived at the restaurant, they had flowers waiting for me! There was no other reason than to thank me for my friendship over the course of the year. (And they bought lunch, too.) I was really touched by this thoughtful gesture: it was very brotherly/ fatherly and very friendly all at the same time. They are really wonderful men and good priests. And since we are celebrating good men this week, I just had to share!

Seraphic said...

Aw... That's a great story! Wonderful!

Brigid said...

A whole flock of lovely men (maybe twenty aged roughly sixteen to seventy) showed up at my missions-fundraiser/swing dance. There were five in the band playing swing music, and they were so smashing and wonderful and it was just phenomenal. I was so impressed and thrilled. And all these others dancing, making conversation, and just generally being pleasant and respectful and generous, and having fun. I love men, they're splendid.

The dance instructor came with gorgeous vintage-movie-star hair and just the right moves to sweep me off my feet. Auntie S, had he offered to take me to church I'd have swooned. Sadly I paid him to come, and I don't think he's Orthodox. But so handsome.