Be warned. This post is not political.
Do you know what sucks about Ladies’ Night?
I’m inebriated, and for all intents and purposes I have become a cliché – a mannish glassful of bourbon, distastefully paired with a disposable glass of Merlot. And why? Because it’s ladies night at the Ruiz house.
To be fair though, that’s not the only reason I’m smashed. I like to drink. It’s rare when you have children (if you’re responsible), to have a night when drinking doesn’t induce a significant degree of guilt. But since my kids are with my parents for the night temptation overrode my better senses.
Shouldn’t I be working? Absolutely. Are there better ways to spend my time? Well, that depends on the person. Brad Paisley had an entire album titled Time Well Wasted. I always liked that phrase. But being the night that it is, I’m currently a king who, though his rule is mighty, has been forced to retire to his chambers early, not by the threat of cold steel, but by feminine suggestion.
Weeks ago I found out that my wife was hosting a “Favorite Things” party. From what she tells me, Favorite Things is a tried and true tradition where each woman buys some of her favorite things and gifts them to another women in the group. Why? It (supposedly) causes women to consider new products, or to think about things that they haven’t tried before. I suspect (however), that it’s really just an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry beneath the guise of generosity.
By her side I’ve spent the better part of two days making sure that our home was pristine and void of any appearances which might suggest that a 4 year old and a 7 year old regularly thrash it. After all, and I say this from the outside looking in, female friendships don’t at all look like male relationships. They’re different.
All of my friendships are lukewarm. I mean, we enjoy each other’s company. I love our conversations. We occasionally make each other laugh and we have no short supply of favorable memories. But a lot of our conversations focus on politics and culture. We quote movies and “save the world” by complaining about the events of the day and suggesting how we’d do it better. Conversations about family are vague and kept somewhat under wraps.
That might actually be the biggest parallel that I see between men and women. While women make their things look well-taken care of and clean their houses so their friends think, “This is comfortable.” Or “She’s really got her shit together,” men say just enough about their families for their friends to assume, “Yeah, he’s got this.” Or “He’s got his shit together.” Notice the absence of the word “really” when I’m talking about men. With us there’s just not much of a need for emphasis.
Maybe it’s a societal thing. For centuries women have been pressured to become nurturers and good homemakers, so making good food and drink accessible to their friends and having a clean home helps to maintain that illusion. It’s an illusion that, even though women are increasingly more independent and free from their pre-feminist shackles, they seem to keep close. They don’t have to. Women know how hard they work. They know they deserve more breaks than they’re given and that the clean house and fresh baked goods bit is fiction beyond common courtesy. But they do it anyway.
Meanwhile, guys are traditionally supposed to take care of their families and be responsible for a happy wife and well-protected kids. That can mean a lot of different things to different people, but in its simplest form it really means they’ve got a roof over their heads. It’s much more animalistic. It’s much more hunter/gatherer. So we don’t even try to prove ourselves. We just omit. Do we need to show each other how good we are at being manly? Not really. Even if we did, it might be unmanly of us to care.
When our friends come over to visit they see the roof. Our wives and kids are usually somewhere around. That’s plenty for them. Anything else that’s said is a bonus, so we’re free to solve the world’s problems again.
And then there’s this: In Prince’s song Future Baby Mama he has one of those moments where he steps away from the melody and starts talking to his person, whoever she is. He says, “I know what you want. (You want) what every good woman wants – a man so in love with you that he can’t help but flaunt you. Deep down I know what you want. You want your girlfriends to hate you.”
You might be thinking, “Really Prince?”
Two things about that: 1. Shut up. He’s Prince. He does what he wants. 2. He does beg the question: When women gather, are they really putting their best foot forward out of common courtesy; so they feel more secure in their womanhood? Or are they (like Prince says) really trying to make their friends jealous?
I don’t think it’s the latter. I think that’s probably a strong accusation. In my opinion it’s more of the former. But you could probably make different arguments based on each individual.
Now I’ve written myself sober, and while there’s been no great point or demand to my writing I’ve learned recently that I don’t need one. Writers can just write because they enjoy writing. In fact, if these three pages or so seem somewhat A.D.D, you now know a little more about me as a person. Honestly. I am, by my nature, all over the place.
I can hear the “favorite things” being passed out now. They all sound happy. They’re definitely entertained. And I’ll say this: If men could ever take anything away from women it’s that with women there’s always an undercurrent of support. You could speculate that there’s more gossip, drama, and backbiting in female circles… I guess. But I think that’s surface fodder. That’s more the stuff of prime time television. But if you ever accused them of that publicly I almost guarantee you’d be opening a fresh wound in a pool full of sharks.
Men aren’t that sensitive. If I told one of my friends I’ve been having a rough go of it lately, I might be invited to elaborate, but it would ultimately end in a quick “I’ll keep you in my prayers” or “I’m sure things will work out.” But with women it’s otherworldly.
When Woman A has had a rough go of it, Woman B is more than attentive. She feels it for herself. She relates to it, internalizes it, and processes it, in a way that we’re just not capable of doing. Woman B never helps Woman A fix her problems. Rather, Woman B is structural support. She’s not there to stare down the wind for blowing. She’s there to endure the wind; to make sure that if her friend flies away, she won’t land on the pavement alone. And I think that’s pretty special.
So do you know what sucks about Ladies’ Night? Not a damn thing. If anything it means your lady will come home more whole and even keel.
If I had to put a moral to the story, it’d be this: Men, whether we’d usually admit it or not, we’re needy. I’ve learned (over time) to resist the urge to call my lady home when it’s Ladies’ night. Don’t be a bitch baby. Embrace it. In the long run, it’s as good for you as it is for her.