I have a half-hour commute to work every morning on the Old Bayshore freeway and I spend it listening to Howard Stern. The effortlessness with which he is able to get women to take their clothes off amazes me. I am not a prude but I feel it should certainly take more than an impolite request and a bad radio show. In case you are wondering, I listen to it so religiously, hoping to be appalled, totally outraged at what has become acceptable to society. Unfortunately for me, I can feel myself hardening into a cynic these days. My friends and their lives seem to be hastening this effect.
Delia is my friend. She has a boyfriend; at least she seems to think so. He, however, is French, and more importantly, a guy, and has no such delusions. Martin (pronounced Maaartaaan. God forbid you should say Martin! Or Marriage!) is a creative director and Dee and I are accountants at an ad agency. At this point you should know that accountants don’t usually have anything in common with … well, people. We are also not very creative. M, on the other hand is very much in touch with his creative side. He comes up with the most fascinating reasons why he spends so much of his time with his female colleague in the evenings, on the phone, on the Internet … “I need a creative sounding board … a … a … what you call … vent,” is what he says most often; unfortunately, this leaves Dee feeling like she has been measured and found wanting. She wonders what she brings to their relationship that he can’t find elsewhere, probably in a more complete package—sorta one-stop shop. She is confident that there has been nothing physical outside of their relationship, but this does not stop her from feeling extremely jealous of superwoman. I wonder (in a Sex in the City’s Carrie sorta way), “Can you cheat on a person without ever touching another? Is infidelity limited to the physical?” I say, “Dump his sorry ass,” but then, I am not the person who spent close to a decade with him and feels an irrevocably forged bond. I am the carefree, unattached single woman (who is constantly faced with the irony of having to sacrifice some of my individuality because I am not one half of a couple.)
“… my contractions were coming hard and fast and I was breathing heavily—Foo, Foo,” Misha was explaining loudly to the audience at the ladies table. I turned red (actually a deeper shade of brown) when I saw the guys at their lunch table hearing a part of this turn to look at us knowingly, “Really?” I like to think we are intelligent but when we end up congregating at gender-based lunch tables, and discussing discount grocery stores, or the prowess of our newly acquired hair straighteners, I wonder, “Really?”
Misha. Hers is another story that makes me question our lucidity. She has been married for five years and just had a baby. Just before her delivery, her husband realized that he had made a mistake and that his true love is his childhood sweetheart (whom he tracked down, thanks to the magic of the Internet). He wants to bail but she has threatened holy hell and has him staying put. During my next Carrie moment, I wonder, “When the mind has left, does it matter if the body hasn’t?” But I am not the one waking up five times a night or mistakenly trying to wear the diaper because I am so tired I can’t think straight. I am the carefree, unattached single woman who has no time left for herself after work, workout, and feverishly answering ads on the Indian matrimonial website.
How does this prove my “All women—married or otherwise—are crazy” theory, you ask? Why else would we let men have any influence on our lives? In an ideal world, there would be harmonious lesbian relationships and there would be men. But why do I find it so hard to reconcile myself to this utopian world? What is wrong with this picture? It is missing the one thing we all love and the reason all the craziness seems worth it—good, plain ole-fashioned sex! (Aha, knew that would wake you right up.) No, it’s the same reason you keep the battered old recliner—you have broken into it and now it is just too darn comfortable to give up and the very thought of moving (it) seems tedious. Male companionship is like a battered old chair.
Sree Chalasani is a high-tech design engineer and a part-time MBA student.