Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pearls N the Hood in the City: Maiden and South

Last weekend my beau and I boarded a DC 2 NY New York City bound bus. I love visiting New York! To me, New York has always represented freedom, attitude, and style. In New York it’s O.K. not to give a damn. It’s O.K. to be exactly who you are. It’s O.K. to be exactly who you want to be. I know I’d never have to courage to actually live there, but I feel daring enough just dressing up in my designer labels and stilettos and heading downtown to hit the clubs—it’s definitely not a Nashville party! I even dared to make my first venture to Harlem c/o my girl, Coca CoLo, who took me to eat the best soul food I’ve had north of the Mason Dixon, nay, north of my mama’s kitchen. I felt a little uncomfortable standing at the corner of 116th and Malcom X, but not as uncomfortable as stumbling upon Maiden Lane and South Street. Yes, a real intersection and one that got me thinking. As I wound through the financial district with my fantastic boyfriend, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was fate that had led me here. I mean, my relationship is pretty great, but sometimes life sends you signs. And at this point my only options were literally to continue along on Maiden Lane or veer left at South Street. Ay mi!

So, let me put these feelings into context. My man and I were spending the weekend at the home of a couple of his friends from law school. An actual couple. They were lovely and cute. And at times it was a bit like looking at a mirror image of our relationship—the similarities were uncanny. She was a nurturer, like my Southern self. And he often found himself struggling between giving his live-in partner and his law firm partner his attention. He didn’t complain, and she didn't either, not explicitly, but we all know the life-work balance is tough to achieve. Once, however, my boyfriend did complain. Mostly, about the fact that I over-nurture. Not in a mom-like way or anything. I think he'd actually like it if I cut his apple for him the way his mother still does when he visits home. Anyway, he may have a point. Perhaps, I could leave the socks on the floor. Maybe I don't have to bake from scratch. He seems to enjoy the Nestle break-and-bake just the same. But my counterpoint, which I strongly believe and feel trumps any of his feelings about my "over caring" is this: since adolescence, straight boys spend their whole lives chasing girls (or at least sex), only to finally get one (or wake up to find a brain and sentient being attached to that vagina) and either decide (a) they don’t want her , or (b) which, in my opinion, is even worse, they become wishy washy and lukewarm about the whole thing until one day you wake up to find yourself on the corner of Maiden Lane and South Street. Either way you can’t win. I adore my man, but it is during these conversations about my over nurturing "problem" that I also like to remind him that I'm not that different from a lot of other girls. Yes, when we're having dinner I'd like to have a conversation sometimes, many women do. Sure, I'd like to try that interesting recipe I saw in the NYT last week, so please go to Whole Foods and pick up some cornmeal so that I can spend 30 minutes stirring over the hot stove attempting to make polenta. This scene happens in homes all over the world every night. While I don't feel that the universe was sending me any real signals that my relationship is in peril, finding my way to Maiden and South did make me think about single life and dating. So, the men chase us, some of them get us, now what is it they want with us? To drag us to the corner of Maiden and South? I just don't think I understand what men really want from women. Is it just me?


  1. First, as a man, I didn't spend my adolescence chasing girls, and I think that language about boys waking up to find a sentient being attached to the vagina they chased after certainly pigeonholes my sex.

    Second, are you implying that if a man finds a woman, the only two possible outcomes are that he a) doesn't want her, or b) becomes wishy washy about the relationship? I don't think you actually believe that, but those are the only two options you're providing the reader.

    I think there is no one thing or set of things all men want from women just as there isn't one thing or set of things all women want from men. I happen to love polenta, prefer anything cooked from scratch over its commercial-off-the-shelf counterpart, and conversation over dinner. And when I have conversation over dinner, it's not so that I can have another vagina in my bed.

  2. Anonymous, you're right. I have overgeneralized and made all men sound like dogs-- and that is not true. The guy I'm seeing now is not and you seem like a good guy too. Glad you're not out there chasing tail, though I have been burned by those who have no interest in anything beyond the bedroom in the past. But it is not all guys. My apologies to you and all the other nice guys out there. You also call it right again--I don't believe that there are only two negative outcomes to relationships--that guys either walk or just become wishy washy. I left out all the positive stuff--love, marriage, the baby carriage... I believe in all that too. Believing in the positive possibilities is what keeps me going back to the dating pool. Frustration has sent me and many other women before me in search of what men really want, but we all know there's no one right answer. And that's too bad. Would make my romantic life easier!

  3. Pearls, I'm intrigued, but I'm not sure I fully understand. Do you really think a major thing causing men to become disillusioned with relationships is being over-nurtured? I think it's more (and this can apply to women, too) that they expect love to always feel like the happy, sudsy excitement of just dating, and are disappointed to find there are challenges and compromises along the road. As for nurture vs. not, for me it wasn't so much that [boyfriend] minded being nurtured, it was that he minded when I expected him to play a role in that environment. e.g., I want to make home-cooked food, but I expect you to help chop and wash the dishes. Some boys grow up without being expected to help in the kitchen, and are befuddled to find that warm, delicious meals don't magically appear when they turn off the TV and enter the kitchen.

    I'm also interested in another perspective here: Are there any men out there who are more natural homemakers than their male or female counterpart? Better with an iron, a chopping knife, or just a grocery list? What do you think about this divide?

  4. Colo, I don't think I meant to say that over-nurturing is something that turns off men in general, there are a lot of reasons to become disillusioned by the dynamics of relationships. My particular Achilles heel seems to be nurturing. I wonder if anyone else has ever heard such a complaint. I obviously don't think I've committed any offense to my partner. I do see your point though and agree with about the roles each partner plays in the environment. I wonder if that's what's actually at the bottom of my situation. My boyfriend is very helpful around the home and volunteers routinely, but if it's because he feels he has to contribute when he'd rather be elsewhere, then your point makes more sense and I believe is more generally applicable to both men and women. Beyond the "honeymoon" initial period, dating life tends to become more mundane and kitchen chores are neither sexy nor glamorous.

  5. Pearls, thanks for the reply. On behalf of the men that have made it harder for the rest of us, I apologize.

    As an addendum to your last point, I'd say, "It'd make *our* romantic lives easier." Unfortunately, dating frustration goes both ways. The ideas of "nice guys finish last" and "a girl will step over 10 nice guys to get to the one a-hole" have applied to me in my life, among others. I have to remember that there are good women out there -- like you.

    (P.S. - The next "anonymous" comment is from me, too, but I don't want this comment to be too long.)

  6. Colo, my (male) cousin is an excellent cook and he does most or all of the cooking in his house. My brother is another example; he's a great cook. His girlfriend can't cook. He's also a foodie and she's not. I, myself, am decent, and can out-cook many of my female friends.

    Pearls, if I had to guess what the issue was in your relationship, I'd have to agree (somewhat) with Colo. I think your boyfriend appreciates what you do, but in *certain* (not all) respects he would rather live the single life, e.g. leaving socks on the floor and eating pizza instead of polenta. It's not that he doesn't appreciate what you do for him -- I think he does -- it's that he would rather these things not happen at all. If I had to guess, I'd say that to him, a clean house and delicious, home-cooked meals are not worth the effort that he -- or you -- have to put into them. I think if you do these things, he feels both guilty that he's not doing them and obligated to help. I don't think it's because he expects warm, delicious meals to magically appear when he turns off the TV and enters the kitchen. I wonder if there's space for a middle ground, there.

  7. Good points,Anon, thank you for sharing! I guess I just wish he'd (and maybe even the guys that I've dated before him that it didn't work out with) would be more willing to relinquish his single self. I mean, when we first started dating (almost 2 years ago) we cooked on weeknights and my traditional self would insist that we sit at the dining table once a week without distractions while his roommates ate out of cartons in front of the tube. He didn't seem to object then. My expectations haven't changed, so I wonder why his have and what they have evolved into. I guess it's hard to find the middle ground without knowing those things.


Commenting is now open, but we'd love it if you chose one username so other commenters can get to know you. To do this, select "Name/URL" in the "Comment as" drop down. Put the name you'd like others to see; the URL is optional.

Any profanity, bigotry, or synonyms for "[ ] sucks!" will be deleted. We welcome criticism as long as you're making a point!