Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Are There Still People Like This?

We always take my car cause it's never been beat,
And we've never missed yet with the girls we meet.
None of the guys go steady cause it wouldn't be right
To leave their best girls home now on Saturday night.

As I wrote before, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I like some boy bands, like the Beach Boys. The songs on the greatest hits CD in my car has a number of songs from their albums that evoke a simpler age, where life was easier, because the world had fewer shades of grey. The good guys were the good guys, and the Commies were the bad guys, or whatever.

I was getting gas for my car the other day at a fairly crowded gas station. On the other side of the pump I was using, a young man, maybe 18 or so, got out of a beat up car. A moment later, a young woman, maybe about the same age, but a bit worn, perhaps a few years older, got out of the passenger seat. The man was about 6'2" and skinny as a rail. The woman was maybe 4'11", and if she were wearing heavy shoes and a dripping wet sweater, she might have been 90 pounds.

They were very obviously an item. They were all over each other, in a not-yet-needing-a-private-room kind of way. The lad was wrapping his arm around his gal, and she was fawning over him.

I was less than three feet away from them, and I was minding my own business, but I overheard their conversation. The young fellow was very carefully explaining how to remove a gas cap, how to put a debit card into a gas pump card reader, how to enter a PIN, and how to pump gas. The young woman listened very attentively, and she followed the steps he outlined.

I glanced up at them, and I noticed that the young man was wrapping his arm very possessively around the young woman. It was almost as if he were marking her as his so that competing males wouldn't have a chance to mate with her. Given that possessiveness, and the fact that a late teen/early twenties woman claimed no knowledge of how to pump gas in a state where I last saw full service pumps more than 15 years ago, I was just sort of creeped out. The guy's tone wasn't condescending, but his manner and content of his words were really treating this woman as though she weren't able to function on her own. Her response indicated that she either was unaware of how to do this simple task, or she was playing along with the illusion that she was completely helpless.

I have never really been a big fan of that he-man-provider-helpless-barefoot-pregnant-woman paradigm. I've had any number of strong women role models. My maternal grandmother, for instance, was a formidible woman when I was a child, and still is intelligent, witty, and strong. Once, when I was a kid, Brothers and I were watching the teevee box, and we saw some kid refer somewhat condescendingly to an old woman as, "Granny." Brother 2 said, "If we ever called Grandma, 'Granny,' she'd kick our teeth in."

The Beach Boys song was playing in my car right before I filled my tank. The lyrics posit that the guys are in the controlling role over the girls in their relationships. After seeing a real example of that, albeit perhaps an extreme example, I don't think I'll ever hear quite the innocence in that song that I once heard.

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