The strangest thing happened to me in Mississippi last weekend.
I was visiting Ivan, my younger brother, and his new bride Alexia. They were having a party to celebrate their nuptials with all their southern friends, and a few of their northern friends. I was standing in a corner, taking it all in (and by taking it all in I really mean sending mass text messages to my friends) when I overheard one of Ivan’s friends say to Ivan, “I’m gonna break her.”
To which Ivan replied, “Good luck with that.” And walked away.
Now, I can’t be 100 percent sure they were talking about me. I started paying attention only midway through the conversation. But something other than my own inflated ego told me I was the her he was looking to break. Maybe it was the way the friend was behaving toward me earlier or maybe it was the way Ivan grimaced and then walked away. Either way, this feeling was later confirmed by (in my own inflated ego's opinion) by all the attention this friend continued to pay me.
And while I still find it strange that men are attracted to me, that wasn’t what has been bothering me since overhearing this conversation. What has been keeping me up at night (in addition to the upper respiratory infection I picked up on the airplane ride home) was my reaction to it.
Readers, I wasn’t righteously indignant or offended or affronted or angry or any of those things I think I should have been.
I was turned on.
Let me be perfectly clear, before that moment, I wasn’t the least bit attracted to this guy. Sure he was tall and Marie thinks he's good looking (her actual response to his picture was “giddy-up”). But he was also wearing cowboy boots and Croakies and a collared shirt tucked into way too faded blue jeans. Furthermore, I have never found a southern accent charming.
But four little words later and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I had to give myself the “this is Ivan’s friend, Tatiana,” pep-talk followed by the “he has a girlfriend, Tatiana" pep-talk repeated several times over the course of the next couple of hours. And, honestly, if I wasn’t so very afraid of the Cowboy, those two talks may have failed me completely.
Thank god I still have my fear to keep me in check.
So, once I sobered up on the flight home I started to think about why I was so affected by the Cowboy. I had already been thinking a lot about the whole generation of guys phenomenon as I was surrounded by my brother’s friends, most of whom were definite guys (some are still borderline boys). And I’m not about to suggest that the Cowboy was a man – he’s more a leader of the guys.
No, I wasn’t thinking the Cowboy was a man, but of another conversation all together that Bob and I have had on a number of occasions. And because our recent conversation about guys versus men was already on my mind, this other conversation may have been lurking not far behind.
The second conversation always starts innocently enough -- what am I looking for in a guy. This inevitably turns into me listing the things I liked about my ex-boyfriends and the things I couldn’t stand about them. And because it is Bob, and because we have had one too many glasses of wine, it moves to the bedroom. While I am not about to say that my exes have been disappointing, none of them have been the sort that would throw you (me) down on the bed (or against a wall) and, for a lack of a better phrase, fuck you (me).
And I know this isn’t very feminist of me, but sometimes a girl really needs that.
Now, over the course of the last two years I have been on several dates with guys who couldn’t even make a plan, leaving me to pick the time and the place of our dates. And, whether it’s laziness or a lack of confidence, I assume if you won’t pick a place for us to meet for a drink, you aren’t going to be the sort that is ever going to pull my hair or smack my ass.
So maybe, when I heard those four little words I realized that before me stood a man that would probably do both. It’s the only thing I can come up with. That in that moment, as my subconscious raced through the last several years of dates with wishy-washy wusses and being almost completely in control of my life almost all of the time for as long as I can remember, it was attracted to the Cowboy who could offer me a break from both.
At that moment, I wonder what it would be like to be broken.
Who am I kidding? I'm still wondering.