Contents of the mind of an average male from a female perspective.
|As Philippe waited, he noticed a distinct shift from uneasiness to the beginning stages of anxiety and dread. Following the advice the psychologist had given him during their last session, he tried to identify specifically what was responsible for this growing feeling of impending doom. After all, she had been the one who had proposed meeting in the first place, as he had been perfectly content in maintaining the status quo. However, it seemed to him that women were never satisfied with something as perfect as what they had until the thing of beauty had been transformed into a pile of smoldering shit. Philippe thought women were like the alchemists of old in that respect, transforming silver into lead instead of gold.
For starters, there was the dilemma of his name. Philippe hated it, and by extension the parents that were responsible for assigning it to him. If they insisted on maintaining the airs of upper class aristocrats it was certainly their prerogative, but he could think of no logical reason why they would assume that assigning such a pompous moniker to their firstborn would somehow burnish the reality of their own birthright and existence. Particularly given the nature of their own names, Herbert and Sylvia, and being domiciled as they were in Cleveland, Ohio. They apparently figured this out later as Philippe’s younger siblings were given more traditional names, a fact which only served to enhance his already overwhelming sense of isolation from the rest of his family. In the past, Philippe had assumed aliases in these situations that had resulted in more than one embarrassing incident, and he again silently cursed Herb and Sylvia and prayed that pestilence and destruction would rain down upon not only Cleveland, but also the entire Midwest. He couldn’t take the chance of them missing their well-deserved fate should they be traveling for the weekend or something.
Philippe’s hair was also weighing heavily on his mind. Herb had often taken young Philippe to the town barber in what Philippe viewed as a primitive male bonding ritual replete with loud laughter, ribald stories and the sickly sweet stench of cigar smoke that nauseated him to the point of vomiting. This distinctly male experience had given way to the phenomenon of the unisex hair stylist of indeterminate gender with completely new and, to him, foreign rules of engagement. Earlier that afternoon, in a rare display of decisiveness, Philippe had decided to change his hairstyle completely and was now regretting his haste. The stylist had bitchily explained to Philippe that a Caesar cut required a hairline ending north of a line traversing the midpoint of his ears, and that he was at least six weeks away from any respectable attempt at a comb-over. Philippe had reluctantly agreed to a close stubble bordering on a completely shaved pate, but was horrified with what he saw when the stylist completed his work. Not only had his balding crown been highlighted like a college textbook after an all night cram session, but his tanned complexion stood in stark contrast to the odd newborn-hamster-flesh scalp coloring he had inherited from his mother. The stylist seemed to wash his hands of the whole affair and by his mannerisms refused to take responsibility for Philippe’s genetic misfortunes. Philippe felt he had no choice but to don his fraternity baseball cap and hope for the best. He was glad that he had opted for casual attire and his well-worn Nikes and hoped that she would appreciate his casually coordinated look and bohemian sense of style.
Another thing was the picture she had sent to him. It was perfect…a little too perfect actually. Philippe couldn’t tell if the picture was slightly out of focus intentionally or if his eyesight was just continuing its long, downward slide. It reminded Philippe of a box of Godiva chocolates he had purchased for his ex-wife’s birthday two years ago. Philippe had noticed that the box of chocolates, despite the ornate gold foil wrapping and velvet bow, bore no expiration date and he marveled at the arrogance of such corporate hubris. Wasn’t their chocolate subject to the same forces of nature and biological decay that every other fucking food product had to deal with? Were they content to let their customers eat product that had been floating through the distribution chain for god knows how long? Philippe made it to the car before he ripped the box open and critically examined each piece. Although most looked untainted, Philippe managed to find some mottling on the bottom of a cherry praline bon-bon and dashed off an angry letter that night to the customer satisfaction address included with the chocolates. He was not surprised to receive a condescending response and a box of replacement chocolates, which arrived too late to present to his wife. True to form, she showed no forgiveness or understanding of the larger issues involved.
The eyesight thing worried him. On the way to the hotel, Philippe had heard a report on NPR that Viagra had been implicated in blindness in 63 men over the last year or so. Of course, no causal link had been conclusively demonstrated, or so the narrator said, but Philippe was still nervous. He hated that about NPR. They would lead a story with taglines that scared the shit out of him, then present some industry flack stating the exact opposite was true, or that it was unproven, or the newly blind were old anyway or the data was inconclusive… then the story would frustratingly conclude that nobody knew for sure. Philippe wasn’t sure either but he didn’t like the sound of it at all. Blind? Philippe cursed the makers of Viagra, NPR and a creator that would make him choose between sight and an erection. Things seemed to always boil down between two unacceptable choices for him—in this case between vision or the humiliation of a flagging member as he tried to conduct his business. Philippe remembered the many times before he discovered Viagra, the wilting stare of his wife as he tried his best to coax Philbert back to life. It wasn’t Philbert’s fault. He had served Philippe well over the years and couldn’t be blamed for failing to become aroused at the inanimate blob that lay before him. Philippe also recalled the first time he used Viagra and the triumphant pride he felt when he presented Susan with the full glory of his manhood. Susan didn’t seem to be any more satisfied, but Philippe didn’t care. Their sexual relationship had degenerated along with everything else to a series of petty grudges and sniping remarks, but Philippe had finished on top this time. She would have to save her caustic remarks for the pool guy or one of the other poor bastards that she managed to lure into her universe by dint of unearned wealth. Philippe fingered the little blue pill in his shirt pocket and brightened. There must be an optimal dosage that would strike the perfect balance between acceptable firmness and something less than legal blindness. In fact, if he worked it right, he would be just blind enough that the gradual deterioration of female beauty in his subjects would no longer be an issue to him.
Philippe’s father had been somewhat of a philanderer, and had passed on to Philippe at an early age the accumulated wisdom of his experiences with women. Herb had explained that with women, what you see upon meeting is ALWAYS the best case scenario. The wise man would take care and not get carried away with first impressions, but instead factor in things like PMS, bloating and other realities of the female species. Herb said it was critical not to look alarmed the morning after the alcohol and mascara had worn off; the cosmopolitan man knew better. The young Philippe didn’t understand all the words and terms he was hearing for the first time, but he definitely did not like the bloating part. Philippe hoped she wasn’t bloated, or mottled like the bon-bon, in some place that wasn’t apparent until it was too late. He had heard that there were entire families of products existing only to deceive the unaware male, and wondered about the devious, presumably female minds that were responsible for developing these products. Philippe questioned why these types of products didn’t fall under the truth in advertising laws, and why he never seemed to see them advertised in the journals he normally perused. Philippe was sure there were secret societies that existed somewhere for no other reason than to make him miserable.
Herb had also told Philippe about “The Look”…that initial half second a woman first encounters a man and has to make the split second decision if he is a rapist, serial killer or a potential life mate. Herb said that it came from the woman’s reptile mind and was a derivative of the fight or flight instinct that guided the hunter-gatherer male. Philippe had seen the look himself, completely analytical and coolly appraising lacking only the quick flicking lizards tongue to complete the mind’s image. Ironically, Philippe had always felt like the prey and not the predator in these situations. Microseconds after deciding, the woman would overwhelm the unsuspecting male with a barrage of body language, movements, facial gestures and mouth noises concurrent with the arrival of some musk/pheromone laden concoction; leaving the male woozy with confusion which was often, according to Herb, mistaken for love or affection. Herb offered nothing more than a shrug when Philippe tried to ask questions about this.
Another of Herb’s admonishments were that a woman, after sizing up the threat potential, knew within the first 10 minutes what the length and breadth of the relationship would be and how it would ultimately play out. EXACTLY. She knew if this was a one dinner meal ticket, someone who might be presented/presentable to the tribal elders at some pagan holiday feast, if he was suitable to be subjected to the scrutiny of her friends and co-workers, marriage, children and even the extent and duration of alimony and child support payments. In other words, everything was predetermined at the moment of meeting and there wasn’t a fucking thing he could do about any of it. Philippe felt a strange combination of fascination and repulsion to think that he had absolutely no control of the situation and that, no matter what he did or didn’t do, he was essentially fucked in the end. Whether Herb knew what he was talking about or not, the concepts were firmly lodged in Phillipes head and he gave them room to flourish and grow. Philippe had to admit that, right or wrong, Herb’s theories had seemed to be consistent with Philippe’s real life experience, at least the fucked in the end part. Philippe realized that if this were true, his new bohemian look was merely icing on an already frosted cake.
Philippe quietly cursed the psychologist and tried to remember what his Buddhist friend had told him about desires and quieting the mind.