During last week’s girls’ night out, one of my fearless female friends shared her adventures/misadventures in NOT pursuing a guy she likes. The stories were weird, laugh out loud funny, makes you wince at all the right moments, and sweetly achingly familiar to all of us. And if you were there, girl, you’d have thought it familiar too. I have reason to believe that as smart and quirky as my close circle of friends are, there’s an iota of us that is similar to all girls everywhere --- utter cluelessness about men.You see, usual love stories are those involving a boy falling head over heels in love with a girl and pursuing her affections to the ends of both earth and sanity. Turn this inside out and you get the story of a girl falling head over heels in love with a boy and pursuing his affections to the ends of… you know how it goes. (Of course these are just the het versions, I’m aware the nouns could be replaced with about a hundred other pairing possibilities). But let’s be real. It takes an awful lot of guts to actually pursue a guy, and even if we have heard of outlandish stories about women following men around raining them with gifts and favors or boldly daring them to fall in love with her, there are still those of us who aren’t ready to take that giant leap. And so we take them critterly small steps, daring within the confounds of the acceptable with only our little toes stepping over the line.
Nobody died and made me an expert, so don’t quote me on this. We all know that there was a perception in conservative societies (although it’s fast dissipating) that men do the deciding. But it’s 2011 and I believe, women are a little faster on the uptake and can decide faster* . How many girls out there knew 1.5 years ahead of the boy that they will be good for each other? (okay, the numerical data in that statement may have been biased towards the author’s experience, but you get my point, right?) And yet no matter how modern the times are, you still hesitate to make this matter known. Sometimes, you don’t even want to make this matter known at all, ever. If the world could just move on 15 degrees of an angle from the issue, you’d be fine.
However, regardless of the damage it creates on our nervous system, we still somehow can’t help but analyze things and slip a couple of Inception-style ideas out there.
To a woman, a couple of hints and subtle moves are all it takes for neurons to make connections and analogies. Flower and chocolates are the obvious outdated moves. We don’t need those to get our thinking gears moving. It’s a little more complicated, er... although, I prefer the term “sophisticated”, than that: body language (is he leaning in too close? Did his hand brush mine on purpose? Etc.), verbal cues (“what’s up? Whatcha doing?” is translated as “does he want to know if we could hang out? Oh my God, does he want to hang out with me?”), and here comes the most nerve-wracking one --- sub-conscious cues (Was that a Freudian slip? why did he blink that way? Why did he choose that word to describe his dream girl? Is it because it rhymes with my name?). In. Sane. But it happens, except maybe to a handful of super enlightened women who are 100% confident all the time and one of whom I am yet to meet.
How about men, I wonder? Did they understand that we don’t usually stay up until 3 a.m. texting about basketball game scores? That our mothers couldn’t make us clean our rooms but upon learning the guy’s coming over, you mysteriously catch a virus that makes you ill enough to attack dust bunnies and curtains that needs to be washed pronto? The text message that took us 3 hours to compose to get just the right balance of curiosity and disinterest? That those cookies you gave him before his important meeting weren’t because we baked a surplus (when we can’t tell one end of a spatula from the other)? The hand we offered and took back when a guy offers a handshake as goodbye when you realized your hands would actually be touching? The Charlie Brown doll you said reminded you of him which later on mysteriously disappears from his room and his life (btw, Ian, just give this back to me, I’ve been embarrassed long enough). Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. But more often than not, they do nothing about it. Sometimes forever. But sometimes, they finally assimilate and do something about it an epic era after. Because girls --- guys are Just. That. Slow. Not always too slow to pick up on things. But snail carrier-worthy when it comes to actually doing something about it.
Sometimes, I wished things were more cut and dried than usual—he came, he saw, he conquered (or so he thinks). But for us girls who couldn’t or wouldn't have it so tidy, I guess the choice we have is to live life bravely. Er, not dangerously brave, nothing that will land you in gaol or the asylum. But be as brave as we could be. For some it’s a pinky toe over the line of the appropriate, for others it’s a leg and a limb over society’s expectations. I am not one to discriminate. Because we are brave the way only we could be and it will defeat the purpose of defying the stereotypes if you stereotype bravery.
Love someone. Let him know. Discreetly. Flamboyantly. Take that step, make that run. Fall flat on your face. Sometimes, nobody’s there to catch you. All the time though, pick yourself up. Because when you least expect it, a hand reaches out to you. Maybe his. Maybe another’s. And sometimes, they don’t let go.
* BOYS: yes, girls are fast on the uptake and deciding. The stereotyping that we change our minds a lot may be due to the fact that we have already assimilated and considered more scenarios and decided thrice before you even reach your first conclusion. :D But this is just me.