Posted by: canthold | August 12, 2008


I haven’t written for a while because I haven’t felt like it. I had an experience recently that was uncomfortable and unexpected. It silenced me because I stopped knowing what to say. Well, as is my nature, I just can’t hold my tongue.

I very distinctly remember a conversation that I had with two of my male Army friends when I was stationed at a remote destination. The ratio of men to women was completely skewed. I always call it a 10-to-1 ratio, but that might be a slight exaggeration – though it’s just as likely not to be. Women ruled, let me tell you. They called the shots because for every guy that might want to catch your attention, there was a line behind waiting for him to make a mistake. They tried all kinds of tactics to get in there, too.

Many guys tried the “friend angle.” They were my best buddies and I loved spending time with them. As soon as I would start dating someone, they would disappear as the fair-weather friends that they were. If they didn’t win me, they would often start rumors about me and try to smear me or undermine the relationship I was in. It was tiresome.

At “The Club” the place on base where we would all go for drinks and dancing, things would get crazy. I had men outright grab my body. I would turn and scream at them and the other men would stand there, holding their beers like it was a show. Not one would step in to defend me. Does that remind you of anything? Perhaps The Accused, or the Tail Hook Scandal?

But in light of the injustices thrown in my direction, the feeling of being in demand, or a desired commodity was heady. Most of the women that I was stationed with abused the role and treated men poorly. They acted like celebrities who think they can drink and drive without legal consequences or those that treat their employees as objects and throw phones at them.

The conversation that I recall was about how these women didn’t have to be so mean or rude about it. It wasn’t necessary to roll your eyes or give men the once over before rejecting them for a simple dance. After all, weren’t we all entitled to some decency, serving our country so far from home? Well, I took that advice to heart. I had a personal rule that I would dance with everyone who asked or no one at all. I wasn’t going to only dance with the best looking guys and snub the geeky ones. If one of my friends asked me out for drinks, I would go, it was always a nice time out. Innocent.

Being naive, however, I assumed that what was going on was all just as it appeared on the outside. The men who claimed to be my friends were my friends. I trusted them. When I went out for drinks with them, I was just out with a friend. Little did I know that they were not on the up and up and from their perspective. They considered our time together as dates. My friends dropped me like a hot potato when I got engaged, then married. I was completely disillusioned by the entire experience.

Fortunately, I wizened up through the years. I have, however, become very suspicious about motivations. People rarely do things just for themselves. Even me, I admit. All of my purely altruistic endeavors have bitten me in the butt. There has to be something in it for me or I will pay dearly. I believe now that that’s how most people operate. And I think it’s normal human nature. Recall that episode of Friends where Phoebe was trying to prove to Joey that you can do something completely unselfish. Even when there was nothing to gain, she couldn’t do a good deed without feeling good, which benefited her, which was not ultimately unselfish.

Recently, there was a person who started to make more regular appearances in my life. I thought they were purely coincidental and random. I enjoyed the conversations, but upon discovering they were sometimes “orchestrated encounters” and not random, after all, I started to feel uncomfortable. Then they started increasing in frequency that was not within my comfort level. I tried to believe that it was only as it seemed, a normal friendship. That was, after all, what it was billed as. But with all my experiences that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck, I started to think that this was not what it was trying to be and I had to confront this person.

Now a real friend would allow me to be myself, which includes setting healthy boundaries. This friend disappeared like all the men from my past when they didn’t get their way. This may sound harsh, but we live by our experiences and there’s that duck again.

My kids liked this man and my daughter didn’t understand why he would not wave to her when he saw her. It provided a good opportunity to discuss standing up for ourselves when people make us uncomfortable. We talked about how no matter what anyone says, our own feelings are valid and no one has the right to say we’re wrong for feeling what we do. And perhaps it was a good example of confrontation for self-preservation, when confrontation is a really hard thing to do.

There is, of course, more to the story, and this person of whom I speak may still be a reader of this blog. His version, no doubt casts a more favorable light on himself. But the idea that I felt that reading all of my blog in one sitting (200 or 300 posts) was a bit too much and silenced me for a while. But I’m back. I don’t write always for an audience, I write to express myself. I don’t publish anything so private as to be inappropriate to know about me, though a lot of what I say comes from the heart. And I have to listen to what it tells me and then – I can’t hold my tongue.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: