Podcast: Play in new window | Download
#2 of 6
Men are visual, but they can’t always see the obvious, you know?
Carlos is a fine artist in his early forties. He’s a happily married east coast transplant to the corn belt, and he took some time to share his take on the complexities of relationships and what he refers to as modern dating. ♥
Some guys just couldn’t wait to have kids. I was living in Atlanta and a couple of my friends and I — I know this sounds bad — but we were either trying to have long-term girlfriends or just hook up with as many girls as we could. Not that it was a contest or anything, we just wanted to have fun, you know? And then, slowly but surely the guys were like, Oh, I think this is the one. Then they’d stop coming out to the bars with us, and we were like, What are you doing? And they’d say, I’m gonna get married and we were like, What are you doing? And they’d go, I want to have kids, and it was … I was … like, What?
But I think that was the prevailing thing with a lot of people. As an artist — and in lots of other careers, too — in order to be successful, you have to be extremely self-centered and focused just on what you do. I used to think, maybe because of my parents and all my other relatives, that maybe I should have brought kids into the world, but it’s all fun and good when the kids are hanging out with the grandparents and having fun, but you should only bring a child into this world if that’s exactly what you want to do. To me, it’s extremely irresponsible, breeding just to carry on the family name, or because somebody wants more Catholics in the world, or they think that’s what God wants. It has to be an important decision, and for a long time I thought I made a mistake, you know? I mean, I love children, but I love other people’s children.
Then I thought for awhile, since all my friends were doing it, maybe I should, too. But I could never find someone I wanted to do all that with. I think having sex is one thing, but once the child is there, you really have to like that person, and I don’t think most people think that through thoroughly. Once the kinky sex is done and you have a two year-old and a three year-old running around and the laundry needs to be done and you’re complaining, I’m like, Did you think about all this stuff when you were all googly-eyed? Maybe you should have kept your pants on.
You look at magazines and stuff, and they don’t show you the dark side of marriage and having kids. It’s not glamorous; it’s not fun; it’s work. Just being married is work. The problem is that this whole idea of manhood is skewed. I know how to hunt, but I can’t skin a deer, and I know somewhat how to fix a car, but there are plenty of men who know how to be manly and solve problems and do all that shit, but they also beat their wives, molest their kids, and drink too much, know what I mean?
My biggest pet peeve is for somebody to tell me to man up. It is the most offensive thing you can say to a man. Because what you’re saying is, based on your judgmental criteria, somehow I am not living up to what you think a man should be. I’ve had people say that to me, Oh, why don’t you just ‘man up?’” And I’m like, If you ever say that to me again, and I decide to ‘man up,’ you’d better not be standing next to me, because you don’t want to see me manning up the way you think I ought to. I will put your ass through the wall. Manning up, to me, means that you think my own demonstration of manhood is less than what you think it should be. I think men should be offended by that.
That’s like me saying, Well, if you weren’t so fat, I’d sleep with you. It’s saying your physicality isn’t woman enough for somebody to find you attractive. It’s bullshit is what it is.
Can you be a quiet guy and own an antique bookstore, or do you have to be a fireman? Can you be a poet, or an artist, or a librarian and still be a man? I think society’s all screwed up about this, and I think that’s why people have problems with homosexuals. After all, there are gay cops, gay firemen. There are gay men out there who do manly things, yet they go home and have sex with another man. So, what, is that unmanly?
And here’s the problem I get into — I think it came from my dad — because I was always the one who had to pack the car for trips and check the house before we left and be the one with answers in case things went wrong, and, say we get lost on a trip, and now I’m supposed to be the one with the damn navigator in my head, you know. Sometimes, it would be nice if men could say, Why don’t you come up with an answer? Why don’t you get us out of this situation? Society thinks men always have to know.
You watch these movies and men are just the dumb asses in the house that don’t know how to do the laundry. And the father is always the bumbling fool — he can’t get the wi-fi right or some shit — and it’s nerve wracking to see. But what if he’s the most loving person ever? That’s not Hollywood, though. It doesn’t sell. Some people think, ‘We’ll just get married and it’ll fix all of our problems and the children will love us’ and, you know, it’s a Happy Meal. People don’t realize we live our lives as we dream: alone. Dégas said that, I think. They’re afraid to be alone with themselves first. You have to be confident in your own aloneness.
I guess I got my ideas about relationships from my friends. I got sent off to an all-boys boarding school. My parents are wealthy New Englanders who never showed much public displays of affection. My father was stoic; I think I probably taught myself to shave. I mean, they did little things and they had their ways of showing they cared, but it was practically an arranged marriage. If the family was good enough and the girl was nice, that’s what you did back then. There was no way she was going run off with the plumber, you know?
I think I was mainly looking for a girl who was cool to hang out with and not play games, someone who liked the same things I did and felt good to be around. And that’s what I got; I got lucky. You know, I love being married and I love that I didn’t have kids. It’s a good life.
There are times I think all men wish they were eighteen or twenty, with no obligations or responsibilities. I don’t mean it as an insult, but I think men are complete children. We are. We’re not dumber than women, but you women are more nurturing and emotionally aware and attuned.
You’re going to find someone who has a list of ten things you like and ten things you don’t. And you’ll have your own list. You’re going to think some of it’s crazy, but you’re never going to know what’s on that list until you’re married or deep into the relationship. Those things that you think are crazy, that’s what you’ve got to learn to love about your partner. You have to love your own negative parts on your list, too. Because the worst thing you can do is try to change somebody. Hey, if I put my clothes on the floor when I’m single, guess where they’re going when I’m married? So many people don’t get that. It’s about finding compatible craziness.
People also don’t get that we’re going to get old and fat. The six-pack abs and tiny little butt and perky boobs, all that’s fine, but no one told that guy after the third kid, you know, maybe her ass is going to stay like that forever. Then the guy freaks out, chases the secretary, and gets a divorce. Men are visual. That’s why we watch porn: it’s the second biggest thing next to Nascar. We covet first with our eyes. Women don’t do that. There seems to be this lack of confidence in men these days. They just placate themselves with cop shows, beer, and football.
The same way men expect women to be sexy and flirtatious, women expect the men to be loaded and established. It’s the same kind of game, different terms really. And this is the problem with modern dating: we want customer service after the purchase. We drive it off the lot and then we want to take it back. After the bling is gone, then what? There’s no marketing or literature on it, you know? It goes back to compromise.
– – – – – – –
You might also like:
Oh, Man. Who knew?
Trust is the Heartbeat
My Just Right
Finding Your Lobster
Flipping the Script