Grandma used to flirt with the butcher. During WWII, when meat was rationed, she’d sidle up to his counter in her finest frock and chat him up for hours.
“Grandpa really liked pork chops,” she told me, “so I’d say, ‘Gee, I’d really like to have those, but I don’t have enough stamps,’ and he’d tell me, ‘Well, I think we can arrange that.’
“I just made him feel important,” she said. “And you’d do just about anything to get more meat.”
I used to blame the desperate times for Grandma’s indecorous behavior. Having come of age myself at the peak of second-wave feminism, I couldn’t fathom using my femininity as a tool to manipulate a tenderloin vendor. Also, I’m uncomfortable with the juxtaposition of sexual tension and ground chuck.
But I recently found myself at the meat counter of my local market, staring in confusion at the oddly named offerings, when a hunky young aproned man leaned over the counter and offered to help.
And just like that, I was righting my posture, flashing my teeth, and complimenting his dizzying raw-cow know-how. No ration stamps. No wartime. Just a dopey damsel in dinnertime distress going all girly and guileful for a gallant gristle-chiseler.
What the flank?!
It’s our beloved bedtime ritual: In the dark of my son’s room, at the edge of his small bed, I sing him to sleep every night. From the day he was born, I’ve been lulling him off to dreamland by warble-whispering the random anthems filed in my musical memory. Lullabies. Folk tunes. Soulless pop songs from the 1980s.
I love our routine so much, love sending my custom soundtrack — like a mommy mix-tape — resonating through his subconscious as he slumbers. It relaxes him. It relaxes me. It’s achingly peaceful.
Until the vulgarities start flying.
You see, he’s a musical child. Sings with conviction, dances with abandon, and hopes to play the tuba someday … when he’s bigger than one. The kid’s got perfect pitch, impeccable rhythm, and — herein lies the problem — uncanny recall for every lyric he’s ever heard. Ever.
So if he recognizes a song during our nightly tunefest, he sings along boisterously — negating the whole “lulling” objective. If I “sshhh” him in that gentle-but-I’m-dead-serious way that only mothers can, he begins dancing horizontally to the ditty, thumping its backbeat on the pillow, making James Brown faces and kicking his legs in spastic homage to a mosh pit he clearly visited in a former life.
Complex. Cryptic. Complicated. This is how men describe women. Whereas guys claim to be simple creatures easily won over with a frosty beer or an unobstructed glimpse at boobies, gals are perceived as inscrutable human vaults whose hearts and, well, parts are guarded by a system of locks so intricate they can be opened only with the precise combination of money, breeding, and charm.
But that’s bunk. It’s hooey. Truth is there’s an easy and too-infrequently-used shortcut to our affection. Want to crack our safes?
Learn to give a decent massage.
That’s right. An old-fashioned, no-cost, fingers-on-flesh rubdown.
This is no hush-hush secret, I assure you. I’m not breaking a classified girl code by telling you this. We want you to know it! We want you to use it! We can’t figure out why so many of you are wasting your time sculpting your calves at the gym when you ought to just be squeezing holy hell out of those squishy office balls that build hand strength. Squeeze, brothers. Squeeze!
Ladies melt under the benevolent touch of a warm-palmed fella intent on liquefying our tension. Something unexpected transpires between generous hands and underappreciated flesh — something far more satisfying, more thrilling, than you get with a paid massage. It’s sensual. It’s electric. It’s bloody alchemy is what it is.
As a mom or dad, you hear it all the time. Too often. It’s one of those firm parenting axioms recited by smug sages — like “sleep when your baby sleeps” — that’s as nonnegotiable as it is unachievable.
“Children don’t need a friend,” the advice goes. “They need a parent.” And it’s true. Except on Facebook, where it turns out to be entirely false.
After years of careful evasion, my husband and I finally let our 8th grader create a Facebook account. We’d been holding out, we said, because publishing personal information to hundreds of people requires a modicum of maturity; crude comments and damning photos can have disastrous consequences.
But here was the real reason: We didn’t want him to see our crude comments and damning photos on Facebook: The status updates whining about our kids’ whining. The picture of dual-mounted street signs at the intersection of Inyo and Butte. The absurd pages I support, including one called “When I was a kid I thought Cal Worthington said ‘Pussycow,’ not ‘Go See Cal.'”
But our reasons for keeping the kid off social-networking sites (“Beware the cyber bullies, whatever those are”) were growing thinner, and our hypocrisy (“We’ll discuss this later, son; I’m busy on Facebook now”) ever fatter. So we caved.