Wednesday, October 8, 2014

40 men in 60 days (Don't even think it...)

For three years my workplace consisted of two people: Me and my female boss. I rarely interacted with other humans. At times, I would long for company that I would deliberately choose to meander to the copy machine when I heard voices downstairs. Although extremely embarrassing the day that I super-glued myself to the desk, it meant that a maintenance man was on his way to visit me with paint thinner. And every Wednesday, like clockwork, the Bug Guy came to spray the office. I cherished our "How is your day going? Good. See you next week." That brief encounter made me feel less like Rapunzel up in the lonely tower (long hair down to my rear-end helps with that scenario). This environment kids is no longer the workplace I go to 6 days a week. I have entered one end of the extreme on the spectrum to the other: I work with an average of 40 men on a daily basis. And besides the dry hands I have developed due to my overuse of Purell, I have learned more in the past two months about the opposite sex than I have in all my 30 years on this planet. And it's more complicated then I ever imagined. I am still in awe that National Geographic has not produced a documentary on this phenomenon.

I've had my fair share of "boy encounters." There was preschool where I hit a bully over the head with a frying pan (who puts real frying pans in a kiddie kitchen? Oh the 80s!) after he made fun of my friend with an eye patch and glasses. I punched the kid, Timothy Patchowski, who put gum in my beautiful hair behind me in 2nd grade. I have dated half the city of Nashville (which horrors comprise most of this blog). And I have been in enough weddings as a bridesmaid that I have the behavior and personalities of groomsmen down to an exact science. But my new job is like entering a foreign land where you feel compelled to write post cards to your friends back home telling them of all you've seen and moments you've shared. "Greetings from my front office desk!"

It's not only the face to face interaction that I have with the male species it's also the interaction among the male species as either pairs or packs that fascinates me. I want to take notes. I want to document it like Darwin. I want to share it with others so perhaps we can all learn something from the knowledge I have garnered in such a short period of time.

1) Tinder: 

For those of you kids reading this that have no idea what "Tinder" is it is an app on your mobile device that is used to find someone of the opposite sex. You upload a photo of yourself and thousands of others do the same in your area. You are presented a photo, one at a time, and you either swipe to the left to ignore that person or you swipe the photo to the right to accept that person. If the person in the photo swipes to the right on your photo as you did theirs, you will be matched and can begin communicating. But the split second decision you have to make on swiping this photo is based on one thing and one thing only: appearance. I am simply fascinated but mostly frustrated with this app when it comes to observing the swiping of the males around me. It seems that their favorite photos to swipe are the women who are making duck faces, standing in front of a mirror and obviously lacking financial stability because they can't afford enough clothing to cover their bodies. These are the women they choose. These are the women, who have lowered themselves to a sad level of cleavage showing-Tammy Faye Bakker make-up wearing state. While I feel sorry for these ladies the boys are immediately attracted. So I did what every strong, opinionated and self-respecting female would do: I commandeered a phone in the name of the Women's Rights Movement. I looked at the photos and chose the women who had a smile instead of Daisy Duck on their face and were dressed less like Daisy Duke and more like Tammy Faye. I chose someone you would be proud to bring home to your parents. A girl who showed self respect and confidence. A girl who was comfortable with being herself and not using the power of sex to attract men.

Upon returning the phone I feared for my life as his reaction was similar to the Hulk's. I had messed up his system and now he may be matched with a decent woman. I told him he should thank me but in reality I think he was planning my impending death. I tried to have him explain to me why those photos were his top choice (and why those around him cheering him on agreed with such judgement) and upon hearing his reason I felt the pride in the progress we have made as women since we won the right to vote disintegrate before my own eyes. I couldn't argue anymore. It would fall upon deaf ears as the swiping started again and I saw classy women tossed to the left without the blink of an eye.

2) Mothers: 

Simply put, no matter what the age of the male, when the species is put together in either a pair or a pack one of the male's mothers will be insulted. It's inevitable and rather reminiscent of the early 1990s when "your mama" jokes filled the air of the school bus. It is a behavior that the species never grows out of and finds humor in after all these years on the planet. Seriously, every day the same line and the same belly-aching laughing reaction. I won't try to understand it. I will just observe from my stationary position 3 feet away.

3) Expectations: 

When you text a woman "what are you wearing" and she texts you back "use your imagination" let me help you: she is sitting on the couch Netflix binging in a faded college sweatshirt and gym pants, her hair up in a bun, Proactive mask on her face and if she's like me, most likely has her glasses on and retainer in. That image may be horrifying but it's true. And if I am over generalizing the mass population of women out there then I truly apologize. But for men to think that every woman after work is dolled up and somehow in her apartment wearing stilettos and lingerie you're sorely mistaken. Maybe I used myself as an example in what women truly look like when no one else is around but from my research and observation of the male species these past couple of months I have noticed that "use your imagination" doesn't include Proactive dots on her face.

4) Pigtails and Pitching: 

I have observed and taken note of in my mind (because I lose sticky notes far too often) this complicated yet simple behavior. It is common knowledge to most of the Free World that I am obsessed with baseball. I eat it. I drink it. I sleep it. I breathe it. And the Yankees are my obsession. The combination of a professional female addicted to professional sports is hard for this sample of 40 men to truly comprehend. Yes, I will steal your Sports Illustrated magazine from the break room. Yes, I will cheer when the game is on the televisions throughout the building. And yes I will know the stats of the players, the standings of the teams and the schedule for the season. I will get excited when there's a base hit or double play. I will throw the nearest object to the ground when there is a bad call by the umpire. For some reason though this confuses those around me. In turn, whether they have an allegiance to the team or not, the coping mechanism when a girl knows more about the game on then he does is to make fun of my team and the players on it. It is the grown-up version of pulling on a girl's pigtails in math class to annoy her. I don't know if pride is hurt or it's just ingrained in the DNA to poke the girl who corrected them on a game. So I called out the 1-6-4-3 play to end the inning... pull the pigtails all you want.

Please note that these observations are based solely on my sample size of 40 men in a two month period. A disclaimer is necessary because in order to understand the entire male species I would have to have a larger sample size, a stronger hypothesis, a more diverse population, and more time. I am not attempting to put the entire male species into one category because there is a margin of error. Exceptions to the rule. Scientific outliers and phenomena. Standard deviations and complete contradictions. I'm not Darwin dang it. And no subjects were injured in this study except for the occasional pen to the back of the head for an inappropriate comment... or two.   

But at the end of two months of study, observation and scientific reasoning I have garnered knowledge I thought could only be found in hand written monk scrolls hidden deep within ancient tombs: I now know why "the guy" never called back.   

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