Friday, August 23, 2013

27-inch waist

Once upon a time, deep in the suburbs, a handsome young man who was gay laughingly described his first sexual experience: 
We were watching TV and the next thing I knew she was riding me”. 
I am reminded of that statement when I tell the following story:

There is a woman in my office with a 27-inch waist. It is not easy. It takes all of her time and concentration to keep it that way. She spent a year whittling it down. Eating less, taking energy powders, extreme gym memberships and most of all, eating less. She started dieting after she was fired from her last job. Generously, they gave her a year of severance. She dieted until her breasts disappeared. She dieted until her skin became dry, her forehead creased and her hair started to thin. She kept dieting until it fell out. When her mother began to complain, she just cut into a short bob so it’s harder to tell how thin it is. She talks about weight loss and new clothes all the time. By the time she arrived at our office, she was wearing 14 inch skirts and 3 inch heels. It’s quite a sight and she had trouble in the beginning getting people to take her seriously.

How she got to this place is how a lot of women find themselves on the cusp of thirty. If single and stuck in their career, they overcompensate by becoming very controlling of their environment. She controls everything she does. She even controls what other people do. I once ate a salad with her and she complained that I hadn’t mixed it enough. She complained so many times, that I let her mix it for me. Right there in public she attacked my $15 salad with a fork and all of her stick-thin arm muscles for a whole minute, cracking and stabbing and stirring with all her might. She is fairly high strung.

There are women out there who, upon mention of The Rules, exclaim “Oh yeah, I know ALL The Rules”. Ms. 27-inch waist is one of them. Then again there are close to 40 rules… There are only 10 commandments and I have yet to meet a person who can name all of them on the first try. Because she succeeded in losing so much weight and getting a new job, she felt she knew everything. She had a lingering residue of superiority that greased everything she touched. And so here’s what happened…

One of the Rules is that if you like a man, stop communicating that to everyone, most of all him. Especially of he works in your office. This means, do not talk about him to your colleagues, do not flirt with him, do not send him cute emails and do not approach his desk for any reason. And keep it to a minimum if your job absolutely requires it. Well, that’s not what she did. Ms. 27-inch waist wiggled her way around the office and leaned against his cubicle partition with her arms dangling engaging him in conversation every afternoon at 3pm. She liked him because he worked out. She invited him to her gym. She arranged lunch dates. She asked him over to her apartment and she initiated sex. She encouraged him to get a better car and move out of his parent’s basement. She treated him like my salad: a work-in-progress that she needed to improve upon with her good ideas. In exchange, she started attending church with him on Sundays. She thought this was fair.

There was only one problem. 
He hadn’t broken up with his girlfriend (GF) yet
He thought that was fair.

Well, that’s not true. He had mentally decided he was no longer going to be her boyfriend, but he had not stopped sleeping with her. And GF had not stopped attending church with his family, or going to Sunday dinner afterwards. And neither one had stopped calling the other whenever they needed something. That’s because he had done this before and GF knew that if she sat tight she would eventually be that last one standing.

For him, the frenzy of the new relationship lasted for 30 days. They did not date. He came over and they had sex. That was the extent of the relationship. For Ms. 27-inch waist, during the same 30 days she started talking about marriage to anyone who would listen. She said things like “Last year was all about my health, this year is all about marriage”, the common theme being herself. She also explained how she met the old girlfriend and forgave her beau for not advising GF that he had moved on with Ms. 27-inch waist. She was very polite. She said she took the high road. (Interesting I have just finished a book written by a PhD called "Fierce Conversations", in it she describes the phrase "taking the high road" as permission to have an inauthentic conversation.)

As the sexual thrill wore off, he began to pull back to catch his breath. The Rules are prepared for this. They advise that you acknowledge what is happening and follow his example, get busy with other things (like the life you abandoned to fit this dude in) and the endeavor to take a breath before you do something you may regret. This is a prime opportunity to determine with a clear head if this guy is really a part of your future. If he is, he will seek you out so that you have no doubts. This is the wisdom of the Rules.

Unfortunately, Ms. 27-inch waist did not take this in stride. She began to call him asking where he was, what he was doing and when he would come over. To appease her, they planned a road trip to Florida for a week to visit his bartender friend (see above: he didn’t have a road-worthy car). She had hang ups about alcohol, afraid it would interfere with her weight. Boozing all day on the beach was not her idea of fun. But when they fought, he called her high-strung and she agreed with him, blaming herself.

Upon their return, he stopped taking her calls. He told her that he was ultimately looking for someone with less sexual experience than she had. He threw her sexual availability back in her face. She tried to talk him out of his position, but he held firm knowing that he had his GF waiting in the wings. She was devastated.

None of this would have happened if she had done the Rules. Like many people, she chose her partner based on his looks, and it went poorly. She wanted a boyfriend who worked out and this dude fit the bill. She did absolutely nothing to determine what kind of person he was. She didn’t ask anyone’s opinion. She did not even allow him to take her out on a date, deciding instead to lead with her vagina. She ignored obvious red flags when he clearly had another GF and didn’t take her alcohol concerns into account. She just barreled in, believing that she could control this situation. Here’s the crazy thing: while the woman is a royal pain in the ass, I think they might have had a chance if she had relaxed her grip and let him come to her without the promise of easy sex.  This woman failed because she tried to hogtie a man who is obviously destined for someone else (and I do not necessarily mean GF), rather than look around for the one who might be looking for her. I know that life is only worth living if it is lived authentically and trying to talk a guy into your idea of marriage is a recipe for disaster.

But not one to surrender, Ms. 27-inch waist has continued to stoke the fire and the relationship has limped along as all useless endeavors do. She invites him to the odd work function (read: free food and drink) and sometimes he shows up. When he doesn’t I have heard that she mopes about leaving comments in her wake like “my personal life is in ruins”. Now she is entering the drama-infused portion of the non-relationship. The Rules are prepared for this as well; they call it a Fantasy Relationship. This is a relationship that exists entirely in your own head. It never stops being attractive because it’s entirely safe and controllable. You will recognize it because it will be entirely one-sided. The Rules recommend that when you find yourself in a Fantasy Relationship, to immediately get a grip and stop lying to yourself. The result is that this woman has become talked about in the office, so now her bad choices are affecting her career. This is a slippery slope. I would love to reach out to her, but she’s not one to take anyone’s advice. We all know women like that.

UPDATE: The man transferred to another office a few months ago and they apparently broke up. Ms. 27-inch waist has been spotted draped attractively (in very tight pants) over the desk of another eligible bachelor.

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