Monday, February 1, 2010

In which I discover I am a garden hoe

posted Sat, 18 Jun 2005

I have never relied on my feminine wiles or beauty to get what I wanted from men, mostly because I have neither.

I am not unattractive, but I am nowhere near gorgeous. Gorgeous and I are not even on the same map. (This is where my mom is going to protest. Thanks, Mom. I appreciate it – but those are the mom rules. Mothers see with special eyes.)

But I have absolutely no sense of how to charm men. Never have. I was not asked to a single high-school dance. I go years between boyfriends. I don’t know how to flirt. When I do talk to men, I am direct – a quality that is not particularly appreciated in the South. On one blind date, we discussed US energy policy. I had a great time. But he did not call again.

I have always been the sidekick friend to the girl all the guys wanted to date. In high school, Julie was the tall, gorgeous leggy one; I was the sidekick. In college, Anita was the cute, bubbly one; I was the sidekick. Since college, I have had a series of cute, beautiful, flirtatious and otherwise attractive friends to whom I have been sidekick. Leigh is the current one. Even though she is married and had a baby four months ago, it hasn’t diminished her appeal one bit.

Years ago, when my sister was visiting me, she came to pick me up at work for lunch. As usual, Jenny was dressed in a way that accented her considerable attributes. Her hair, makeup and nails were done. (She got the makeup and accessory gene, I did not.) When I introduced her to my male colleagues, their jaws dropped. Later, one told me, “You and your sister are complete opposites.” The other told me, “Your sister oozes sensuality.” Gee, thanks, guys.

Even now, in my flirt email exchanges with the boot camp DI, who, it appears, cannot decide whether to fish or to cut bait, I am far more comfortable with talking about his time teaching applied linguistics in Japan than with more traditional provocative flirting dialogue. I just don’t know what to say! [Turns out he just wasn't that into me. Ha. How dumb was I?]

I showed my friend Susie one of our email exchanges and she ordered me to ask Tony for a do-over. “That’s pathetic!” she scolded me. “You do not know what you are doing. That poor guy thinks you have just slammed him down. You need to clear everything with me before you send it.”

Which leads me to my current dilemma.

I seem to finally have become attractive to men in general.

Why this didn’t happen until I was 41, I don’t know.

But I must admit, I am having fun with it. I keep reminding myself, though, that I must use my power for good.

So the situation is that the guy who wanted the verbena from my garden – the one who looks like Santa Claus in overalls – has been hitting on me by email. At first, he sent me photos of his garden – and told me I could come see it in person if I wanted.

I didn’t reply.

Then I got another note yesterday – how was it going?

How it was going was that all the strawberry plants he had given me had died. They died because I dug them up again and left them out for a day while I cut down the tree and dug up the old flowerbed. They didn’t like that day of being naked before being replanted.

Quelle dilemma.

I knew if I told him this, there was a pretty good chance he would give me more strawberries.

But wouldn’t that be wrong?

I have no intention of ever going out with this guy. All I want him for is his strawberry plants. I would be using him as a means to an end, which is morally wrong. Human beings are never supposed to be used as means to an end. Human beings are ends in themselves.

But I have never had the power even to do that before! No man has ever been willing to be a means for me before!

This was very exciting.

And telling him that the plants were dead wasn’t the same as asking for new ones, was it?

Ah, the beginning of the slippery slope…

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