I commence this post with the working title “On Understanding Women”. I proceed with trepidation. I proceed having finished a delightful meal of linguini con vongole and halfway through a bottle of moderately priced barolo. I proceed considering carefully the counsel of a dear friend, a graduate of St. Bartholemew’s Elementary School, “He who fails to try, fails”. I proceed with the second half of the barolo close at hand.
A few years ago, my son and I attended a Buddy Guy concert. The man is an under-appreciated American treasure. Midway through the concert, a man in the audience screamed out the name of a song he wanted to hear. He was an idiot. At that point, Mr. Guy was in the midst of an extraordinary performance/lecture on the history of the blues, linking Mississippi through Elvis through 60s rock en route to the current day. A tour de force. When Mozart and Clarence Clemons met in heaven they probably requested of St. Peter to hear this show. Back on Earth when said fan proffered his request Mr. Guy retorted, “why don’t you shut the fuck up and you just might learn something” . . .
. . . I flash back about five years to the final months of my marriage. Specifically to the marriage counselor who attempted and failed to save it. The psychologist was from the Bronx. A no bullshit guy who wasn’t born Italian but got there as soon as he could. Turned me on to Chelsea tomatoes. I liked him. Over $200 per hour, rounding down. He failed in his assigned task, but gave me a greater gift of insight. Well to an extent at least. Dr. Bronx put me through a battery of tests I thought silly. The results, he said, revealed that I was as balanced and emotionally healthy as anyone he’d ever met. Again, I liked him. However, he also told me that there existed a critical gap between who I was and how I was perceived. Seems that despite my healthy balance, I was likely perceived as emotionally remote. I thought about this a great deal, him possessing a doctorate and all. I asked a few people, friends. I thought about it some more. I didn’t fully grasp the significance, but as time passed and the thought simmered, I decided to learn from it, just in case he was right. The question is, was who I was, real if my behavior didn’t reveal it? Put another way, if he was right it was time to put up or shut up. Armed with insight, I accepted that I may have been requesting songs I knew and lacking the insight to appreciate them or those I was missing. I had been an idiot.
In his great song ‘Human Touch’, Mr. Springsteen says “you can’t shut out the risk and the pain without losing the love that remains”. I had tried that, for – I’m embarrassed to admit 15 years or so. It would get better I thought, eventually. It didn’t. Emotional stability wasn’t the answer. Expressing it honestly was.
For the past 2 1/2 years, I have been very, very, very happily in the company of the incredible Number 21. Beautiful. An artist. Smarter than me (hard to admit honestly, but true). Insightful. Intellectually stimulating. Seductive. Surprising. A woman as desirable as I could imagine in every way. Often refers to me as a dude in a manner that portrays some combination of bemused acceptance, fear and wonder. There is love. And that’s a gift I hadn’t expected at this point in my life. We talk alot. That’s a good thing . . . when we’re having fun, when we’re watching TV, after dense movies, about topics she knows that I don’t grasp, about topics I know that she doesn’t grasp, about sex, about news and – this is maybe the most important thing – when something bothers one of us, when something is amiss, when one of us is frustrated or pissed, when one of us just doesn’t understand . . .
So the bottle of barolo is done. Guys if you thought I had an answer you’re an idiot, No one has it. Not me. Not Buddy Guy. I can only share my story, and this counsel if you want to try to understand women. Start by shutting the fuck up, listen, then talk and listen some more . . . alot . . . and you just might learn something. Or not . . . but it’s worth a try.