And speaking solely as a man, I believe I can identify the one perquisite of marriage which stands head and shoulders above the rest - that being that you don't have to date any more. Whenever any of my married male colleagues - possibly suffering from the seven year itch doldrums or some form of undiagnosed dementia -begin to wax nostalgic about their younger, single, dating day, I find myself fighting down an overwhelming urge to roll up a newspaper, smack them sharply upon the nose, shake a finger in their face and say, "No!"
Dating, at least from the man's vantage point, reminds me of nothing quite so much as a gold prospector living alone up in the mountains for months on end. After a season of back breaking stoop work in all manner of inclement weather, swirling mud around in your small pan, you finally come up with the large, shining nugget of treasure that will fulfill your dreams of avarice. When this happens, you tend to quickly forget the days and weeks on end of discovering gravel, broken glass, ticks attached to your limbs and attacks by wild animals. This observation was brought home once again this morning when an article by renowned feminist Kris Frieswick crossed my desk.
Ms. Frieswick, the author of books, columns and essays, is a renowned authority on matters of gender equality, women's issues and the general evil represented by the y-chromosome wielding portion of the population. This is why I was somewhat taken aback to note the title of this article... "Note to men: Want a Second Date? Pay for the First." Rubbing my eyes and assuming that surely I was suffering from an insufficient dose of morning caffeine, I decided to investigate the article further.
It was our first date. He was handsome, tall, educated, thoughtful and funny. He had a British accent and a great body. We sipped martinis and nibbled on perfectly seasoned tenderloin in a gourmet restaurant in downtown Boston. To say he was a catch would be an understatement. Yet the deal was not fully sealed until the dinner check came. He reached to pay it without hesitating.
Reader, I married him.
There was, of course, more to it than that. But one of the things that most attracted me to my husband was his boundless generosity when it came to me.
Me -- the feminist, the aggressive professional, the battler of gender inequality wherever it lurks.
Me -- the woman who thinks the man should pay for the first date.
But how, I wondered, could such an acclaimed authority on all things feminist justify such a position? Never one to shrink from the challenge, the author provided a candid response to my question.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
I must be a genius. A hypocritical genius.
No wonder men are perplexed by the modern woman. We're actually prehistoric hypocritical geniuses.
Now, just to set the record straight, I have always believed that I should pay for my date's expenses when I take her out for the evening. I also see nothing wrong with holding a door open nor any other niceties which are now considered, at best, quaint, or at worst, misogynistic.
The author goes on to explain that this behavior is actually based deep in our genetic code, because (quoting another author) "The female of any species gravitates toward a mate who can provide for her and any potential offspring." These traits apparently date back to our caveman ... errr... caveperson ancestors.
Lots of other habits were attributed to our cave dwelling ancestors as well. These, I believe, include bludgeoning women over the head with clubs, dragging them into caves by their hair, and leaving them there all day to tend to the domestic chores while they went out to shove a spear into a woolly mammoth. Hrmm... with a few behavioral modifications, perhaps I could become a prehistoric hypocritical genius too!
Look... I happen to accept that men and women are different in wild and wonderful ways. And I fully endorse those differences in the way we work our way through the complicated, dizzying minefield of dating and mating. But if you are also going to accept those differences, please just accept them. Don't try to justify them and fit them into some gender equality equation where, the fact is, they just don't fit. Not everything is equal. And hang me for saying it, but in some cases, that's not always bad.
Viva la difference!