Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Training Wheels

I need to lay some ground work before I get to the point of this entry.

I work with a younger girl who at times is…well…she’s fucking loud. Often jarringly so. Don’t get me wrong, I like this person. She can be funny and is a very warm hearted person.

She can also be grating as hell. She is the prototypical ‘party girl’ who is often unaware of how her gyrations are being perceived by the males around her. The main problem is she maintains this part of her personality in our office. At times it can be charming, but mostly it’s annoying and completely inappropriate.

I’m convinced her personality developed in many ways due to her good looks. She is five ten with a good body and beautiful face. Normally, this is great. In her case, it seems to have protected her from any sort of criticism; especially from the male population who are most likely trying to score with her. She has been groomed to believe she can say anything (it’s nearly stream of consciousness with her, at this point) or act in any manner and it will be forgiven.

Anyway, Friday night was a company outing and I met her new boyfriend for the first time. Good looking guy and surprisingly down to earth. I say surprisingly because I picture anyone dating her to have the same devil may care attitude as her. It’s the only way to survive.

I made one of my usual smart ass comments about dealing with her outbursts (for lack of a better word). As annoying as she can be, she is fully aware that she needs to tighten the filter and often makes jokes about it. She can laugh at her own obnoxiousness, if you will. New boyfriend says ‘Yeah, there are times I need to remind her of her surroundings’, which is a great way of phrasing it. He then says, semi-jokingly, ‘Just got to train her a bit.’

I was with two other women – both married – when he said this, but neither one said anything at the time.

Flash forward to Monday at lunch. I’m sitting with these same two women and when I brought up the new boyfriend they both gave each other a look.

‘What’s that about?’ I asked.

‘I wasn’t too happy about the "training her" line. You don’t tell a woman you need to train her. It’s not like we’re dogs’ The other, married woman angrily agreed.

‘Wait a second,’ I say, ‘Women talk about training their husbands and boyfriends all the time. How can you possibly be offended by that?’

Their answer? ‘Yeah, but you’re guys. It’s totally different.’

Really? A woman ‘training’ a man is totally fine, but a man ‘training’ a woman is offensive?

Women, of all people, should recognize a double standard when they see one. They live in the land of less pay for equal jobs and deal with societal beliefs that dub sexually active males with many partners as ‘studs’ while women who act the same as ‘sluts’. Fair life is not. Man, I just sounded like Yoda there.

Granted, we men are filthy, filthy animals and do tend to improve with age and guidance. But doesn’t the same go for the lovely ladies of the world? Aren’t we all works in progress? Don’t we all improve to some degree when we meet that special someone?

I don’t bristle when someone says to my wife ‘He’s clearing the table! You’ve trained him well!’ She does, but I don’t. I know having her in my life has made me a better all around person. The fact that I cleared the table as a kid is beside the point. Men strive to please the ones we love. As I’ve written before, we don’t change because women want us to, we change because we want to please them.

‘Training’, when used in this manner, shouldn’t even be considered offensive. Part of falling in love and becoming intimate with another person is learning their dislikes and likes. We test boundaries, figure out what turns them on and what drives them insane so we can then use those aspects to manipulate the other person into doing whatever we want. What? Don’t pretend you don’t intentionally annoy your significant other at times. We all do it.

‘Training’ here implies you are making the other person better. This isn’t about getting a specific Pavlovian response to a ringing bell, although we all expect to be rewarded when we buy the perfect birthday gift. It’s about evolving and maturing. We don’t live in a vacuum. Everything we’ve learned – good and bad - is because of other people. Family, friends, random strangers, and that special someone have all shaped how we think, act and view the world.

If anything, ‘training’ should be considered an affectionate term. Two people simply making each other better. Besides, in the case of this guy, he definitely has some training to do.

I would have mentioned all of this to my two lunch mates, but they do what all women do when they’ve lost an argument.

They changed the subject.

Today’s distraction: Husband training tips. Some good ones, including how to hold off passing on a juicy gossip tidbit until you hear ‘Can we discuss something?’. That said, if any guy ever answers with ‘You know why I get so upset over (favorite sports team)? It reminds me of when I was little and my father used to...[insert moving memory here; relevance not important]’ Your manhood card will be instantly revoked.

1 comment:

Hammen said...

"Just when you think you know all the answers...I change the questions."

I believe it was Rowdy Roddy Piper who used to say that, but it applies to women too.