Monday, September 20, 2010

It's not *always* misogyny...

Last Monday, Cary Tennis had an insane letter of the entertaining-if-read-through-crack-in-fingers variety:
Hey Cary,

How does one ... how do I ... rebuild lost karma?

Something happened between me and this woman B, last week, and ever since I feel so, so sad for her and for me and for everyone. ...

Recently, I had been not sleeping with anyone. ... Then two weeks ago, I tried online dating, immediately met S, and planned our first date. In the interim, I met B at a party, and we really hit it off and ended up sleeping with each other back at my place. The next night, I went with S on a first (wonderful) date and we also slept with each other. (Circumstantially, S is a better fit for someone that I could end up with than B was.) And instead of feeling like a slut, I felt cocky, like somehow the world owed me success with women.

In an under-analyzed attempt to prove to B something (I'm still not sure what), I asked her to go on a second date and we again went back to my place. Just before sleeping with me, though, she said that she wanted to be clear that she was not interested in a long-term boyfriend. Although I didn't want to be in a relationship with her either, counterintuitively I was still stung.

After sex, we talked about our exes. Intimately but painfully, B asked me to recount every detail of my girlfriend (unilaterally) breaking up with me. As I told B the sad story, I felt very close to her, but also felt very vulnerable and sad. And at that exact moment, B pointed to a rash on my knee and asked me what it was from. And instead of being a real person and lying and saying that I fell off my bicycle, I (under the pretense of honesty) snapped:

"You really want to know?"


"You sure?"

"Or course."

"It's from sex with another girl."

"You're kidding?"


"You're serious?"


"You mean you're not kidding?"

"No." (with analytic lack of emotion)


"Two days ago."


I point to the rug across the room. She inhales a cigarette as we twist the conversation back to small talk. And after 20 sterile minutes, B leaves.

And despite this karma catastrophe, things are ironically working out really well with S, and we are moving quickly into a great relationship. Yet I feel so scarred by the episode of misogyny that I want to flagellate myself.

You know in "Gandhi" when the Hindu man confesses to Gandhi that he had killed a Muslim boy and that he was feeling incredible guilt and what should he do? And Gandhi replies that all he has to do is find an orphaned boy and to raise him like his own son. And the Hindu agrees. But then Gandhi (in Ben Kingsley's eternal voice) adds, "Only be sure ... that he is a Muslim. And that you raise him as one."

I know my story is nothing, but who can my adopted child be, Cary? I'm not an emotional person, usually. But I just feel so, so sad.
Cary Tennis is often very rambly and musey in a way that seems at best tangentially related to the problem at hand, but this is one of his good days, as he fairly succinctly calls the guy on his bullshit:
Let's clear up something. In the third paragraph from the end, there are four words that don't belong: "Catastrophe," "scarred," "misogyny" and "flagellate." It wasn't a catastrophe, it wasn't misogyny, you're not scarred and there's no call for flagellation.

It was just a mistake in judgment.

Maybe there were reasons. You want possible reasons? It's easy to imagine how you might have felt hurt and small as you recounted your sad breakup; it may have made you feel powerful to reveal how you had had another woman there just the other night. You're only human.

Humans make mistakes. Let it go.

I don't know about this business of finding a Muslim boy and raising him Muslim. But if you hurt this woman's feelings, maybe you can do something nice for her. There's hardly any downside to doing something nice for someone, as long as you don't blow it by acting all guilty and apologetic and complicated.

Just get her a little gift. Just get her a little gift because you feel you owe her something but don't tell her it's because you feel you owe her something or that will spoil it and you don't want to spoil it as you've already spoiled enough for one week.

Lulu: I like Cary this week! This guy is clearly trying to be earnest in a way he thinks will be appealing to Cary Tennis, and Cary is like, "...yeah, no." I don't really see why he's racked with guilt either. I can see how it's impolite to tell someone you're dating about the other people you're dating, but it's not like the worst thing evarrrr.

Ashley: No, and she said she didn't want a long term boyfriend. He said he was hurt by that even though he didn't want her as his girlfriend either. I think everything else in the letter is rubbish.I think he just said it to prove that he didn't want her either, and i don't necessarily think he should have lied, but he infused it with so much Meaning. If he were just matter of fact about it, it seems like it would have been fine.

Lulu: No, obviously he's a terrible person for infusing everything with Meaning, and he was trying to hurt her. Maybe that's why (or at least part of why) she was hurt. He comes across as this weird, vulnerable, snapping thing that lashes out in the face of extreme feelings, which he has often.

Ashley: And then feels guilty for the wrong things. Misogyny???

Lulu: Right, if anything, it seems more misogynist to lie, assuming the person can't handle knowing the relationship is not exclusive even when they said they didn't want one

Ashley: It also just seems like he's fishing for problems. It didn't work out with the girl he didn't want it to work out with, and it did work out with the girl he DID want it to work out with. Who even gives it a second thought??

Lulu: He feels guilty that it worked out so well, because he feels like he acted badly. And should be punished.

Ashley: Boo-hoo?

Lulu: He wants to make amends! The thing is, you don't always get to make amends for acting badly. Sometimes, you live with the knowledge that you are capable of acting badly, and you let that inform your future decisions of how to act.

Ashley: At some point though, the offense is so minor that feeling badly about it and focusing on it is just narcissism.

Lulu: Yes, I agree. It's All About Him. It's way more about his feelings about what he said than it is about hers. His concern over her seems really fake. It's about his ego, his vision of himself as a nice person.

Ashley: Gah, my coffee addiction is giving me a headache and also makes me hate this dude.

Lulu: Well, I kind of hate him too, but--

Ashley: Forget your feelings, focus on me! I have a coffee headache!

Lulu: I don't care that you have a coffee headache, and that makes me feel really bad about myself.

Ashley: You should make amends. But how?

Lulu: I will raise a baby and teach it to gently soothe people with cold compresses and caffeine injections.

1 comment:

  1. I like that not only does he go to straight to a story about Gandhi to help with his manslut problems, not only does he pick a scenario that is totally unrelated to his own for the comparison, but that his point of reference for Gandhi is the movie starring Ben Kingsley.

    I hope this applies to the rest of his life; he only knows historical figures and events as they have been represented in movies and frequently square-peg-round-holes them into his own problems.

    Remember when Benjamin Martin got mad at the British for killing his family, so he won the Revolutionary War with a tomahawk? I have a math test tomorrow, what studying method is MY tomahawk?

    In conclusion, this guy deserves a caffeine headache with no Tylenol for relief (the Tylenol is like Maximus Decimus Meridius' quest for vengeance via gladiatorial combat).