The downside of having friends who sometimes read your blog is that you can’t blog about certain real-life events without risking getting kicked out of that social group. I’m going to take that risk anyway and write about this guy I spoke to last Friday. Besides being interesting enough to be blog-worthy, somewhere in here is a valuable lesson that may be useful the next time you go about trying to impress girls (or people in general).
This guy, let’s call him TMF (you’ll realize what the acronym stands for as you read along). He’s a friend of my bandmate who goes to our gigs, though we’ve only exchanged a couple of sentences during those times. One those sentences he threw at me had something to do with how he spent some time in France hanging out with “real” street punks. Right. He piqued my interest, definitely, but only because there was something in the way he spoke, carried himself, and dropped random details about his life that seemed a little…off.
TMF and I got around to having a real conversation on Friday when my bandmate congratulated him on his promotion to COO (chief operating officer).
“COO?” I asked, my eyebrow raised.
“It’s all really hush-hush right now, and I’m sure you’re wondering what a guy like me in a place like this–” This referring to the small artsy-fartsy place we were playing at tonight “–is doing being the COO of a car dealership. You don’t believe me? Come on, I’ll take you to my car and show you my suit.”
Before I could say that that wasn’t really necessary, the bandmate and I were standing outside TMF’s shiny new car. True enough, he did have a black suit crumpled at the back seat, and he put the coat on to dispel any disbeliefs we had about his big corporate job. Disbeliefs that we didn’t have.
“Oooh, big capitalist monkey,” I said.
He must have detected the sarcasm in my voice because as he removed the coat and tossed it back into the car, he went on to tell me about how he had no real choice in the matter. His dad owns the car dealership and if he hadn’t accepted the position, he’d have gotten kicked out of the house.
“I need to eat too, you know,” he explained. “Everyone’s been congratulating me left and right for being such a big success at 23. Truth is, I hate my job and I hate what I’m doing right now. You know what I really want to do? All I really want out of my life is to go to New York, study, and make music. That’s all what I want to do.”
He almost had my sympathy there. Nothing tugs at my heartstrings stronger than people who feel trapped in their jobs and who can’t afford the freedom to do what they want with their lives. Then TMF ruined it by saying something that killed any sympathy I had for him whatsoever.
“Just think of me as a subject from a Virginia Woolf novel.”
Nothing irks me more than people who name-drop in ordinary conversations. Half the time it’s because I don’t know who those people are and what they’ve done to become name-drop fodder. The other half is because the name-dropper does the name-dropping with all the arrogance in the world. The worst part is when I see their eyes go “Aha! So you’re not as smart or as cool as I thought you were.” when I admit to not knowing who they are. Most of the time, I end up playing along because I hate it when people make me feel like I’m stupid.
Oddly enough, the vibe I got from TMF when he name-dropped Virgina Woolf, feminist writers, and indie bands was not one of arrogance. He was going out of his way to impress me or everyone else. I noticed that he was carrying a bunch of books with him throughout the evening, the Belle and Sebastian graphic novel included. Seriously - why would you bring that many books with you to a social event unless you wanted to show how cultured, sensitive, and artistic you are?
I wonder if he would have kept on talking me if I said that I have never read a word of Virgina Woolf in my life.
Over fastfood dinner at KFC, TMF unloaded his girlfriend, family, and life issues (not without making a reference to an obscure indie band every so often) at me, which I honestly didn’t mind. There’s a lot you can learn about life, people, and yourself, just by listening to people talk. The conversation I had with TMF, for instance, made me realize that if there’s one thing I can’t stand - it’s a Male Feminist.
“I think of myself as a male feminist,” TMF said. “I read all these novels by feminist writers and I feel this connection with them, you know? All my life I was bullied by people for being different, and now my parents expect me to be this and that. I can definitely relate to how women feel about being oppressed by society.”
If he had caught me on a bad day, I would have punched him the face for that. Male feminist my ass! Okay, I’m no expert at feminist theory but to me, a guy who says that he’s a male feminist is like a CEO of a big multinational company saying that he’s Marxist because he can “relate” to how hard the factory workers in China has it. Sure, I understand that men may be able to empathize with how women suffer and agree with feminist theories or writers. But secondhand oppression is not the same as experiencing actual oppression. The pressure you feel from your family and the crap you get from society for being different is on an entirely different ballpark from getting your tits groped at age eleven and being stared at like a piece of meat from assholes in the workplace. I don’t care how sensitive and emotionally vulnerable you are. Anyone who is born with a dick between his legs can’t declare himself a feminist and back up that statement by saying that he can “relate” to how women suffer. The only people who know how women suffer are women. Period.
If all that stuff about feminism was supposed to impress me, well, it didn’t.
I kept talking to TMF anyway because if there’s one thing he’s got going for himself, it’s his excellent taste in music. At some point in the evening we were talking about folk music and he offered to let me hear stuff by Leonard Cohen. I agreed, thinking that maybe he had an iPod with him or something. Two minutes later I was in the passenger seat of his car, being serenaded by Leonard Cohen from the CD player as I recalled a story about myself as a kid from my mom. When I was four she attempted, in vain, to teach me how to fend myself from strangers who might want to kidnap me and sell me into a life of sex slavery. “If a man stops you on the street and asks if you’d like to step inside his car and have a kitten, what would you do?” “YES KITTEH PLZ,” was my enthusiastic reply. Dead in seconds. I don’t know how I lived to see my 21st birthday.
After our band’s set, I spotted a friend I haven’t seen in over a year and went off to say hi and catch up with each other. From the corner of my eye I could see TMF trying to grab my attention, but I was too involved in the conversation for my attention to be diverted. Several minutes later, TMF tapped me on the shoulder and said that he had to go.
“Bye, see ya around!” I said cheerfully before turning back to my friend and picking up where we left off.
The look TMF gave me before he walked away said, “That’s it? That’s all you’re going to say to me? No hug? No kiss? No cellphone number and YM name hastily scribbled on a beer-stained paper napkin?”
If this entry made me seem like a total asshole, I’d like to take a moment to defend myself here and say that I’m not. I’m just a normal girl who can’t stand it when people try to bullshit their way into my heart. Now I’m not saying that this guy is a liar - for all I know, he really did spend some time hanging out with “real” punks in France. The point is, when you want to endear yourself to someone - regardless if you want to sleep with her, be in a relationship with her, or simply be her friend - just be. Do not attempt to get close to someone by listing down all the cool things you’ve done or telling her about how oppressed you were by your parents and by society all your life. Even if the latter may be true, these things are simply too intimate to reveal in a first conversation and will only come off as bullshit. Also, people who have done REAL crazy shit in their lives almost never talk about them, even when asked.
Finally, don’t try to impress girls by saying that you can understand their issues because you’re a feminist. TMF was real lucky that I’m too passive-aggressive and non-confrontational to punch him for saying that.