"RANTS" Archive

What's Wrong with Nice Guys?

The Manipulator Files
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"I get the feeling I've been stinting a bit in the present department", my husband told me the other day - perhaps inspired by the task of folding all the old, well-washed (off) white cotton knickers. He seemed to feel responsible for the standard of my underwear - if he had been more of a husband, I would have been a fart more elegant under the jeans and T-shirt...

For a split second I considered agreeing with him. In a nice way, of course. Inside my head the phrase BETTER LATE THAN NEVER started floating around, and I saw him trying to find his way around Magasin's lingerie department with a grubby little note of sizes.

But I didn't agree.

And it's not just because good lingerie is so terribly unpractical: It's made of silk or some other fibre which will crumble if machine washed at the temperature needed to get it clean. The knickers are either loose enough to give no warmth at all or so tight they end up as a nasty little twisted string between your buttocks. The bras make your breasts flat as hamburger buns, pointed like Madonna's in concert, or squash them into tennis balls.

No. The reason I didn't agree to let him deplete our account and fill Cacharel's was a sudden certainty that time has moved us away from the days when women needed to be not just adored and desired, but also showered with gifts.

A lot of men (and women) still have the idea that a devoted husband drops things into the little wife's lap from time to time - flowers (NOT supermarket cellophane-wrapped), jewelry, perfume or fur coats. He should do it without prompting, and it must be totally needless luxury items. A much-needed new corkscrew doesn't count..... It is completely beside the point that they both work, and that she often makes as much as he does - if not more. Yet society still perceives that only women should have these expectations. I mean - when did a male friend last complain that his wife never brings him flowers? Or doubt her devotion because it's been 8 months since she bought him a new tie?

Men give, women receive - and that's the long and short of it.

Or is it? A present can symbolize so much besides love. A bad conscience, perhaps? Or it can be a very broad hint that the giver wants some reciprocation later, between the sheets. A present can be a symbol of financial power, reminiscent of the days when the husband held the purse strings and by whim could control the wife by withholding money, and from time to time drop a gift in her lap. The giver is always the person in power in this little game. It was woman's role, in the days when she didn't have her own income, to be the meek recipient of whatever trinket was bestowed upon her. Those were the days when new knickers really meant asking permission to buy them or wait to have them as a present. And I want no part or memory of that role! I don't want to be bought, bribed or put into a debt of gratitude by an expensive, unneeded present.

"So diamonds aren't a girl's best friend?" my husband asked.
"Yes, when she buys them herself" I answered.
"Can't I take you to dinner somewhere anymore?" he asked.

Now, that's something completely different. And - in this day and age you don't have to be a TOTAL fanatic.

"As long as I can take YOU to dinner sometime too."

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