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Man, I Feel Like A Woman

It is a universal truth that men will never understand women. Somewhere in the annals of time this law was written, and it stays true to this day. To men, the female brain is more foreign than escargots, more unfathomable than Capri pants, and more enigmatic than the plot of Inception. Yet somehow, over time, men have come to accept this reality and have found ways to adapt (flowers, chocolate, "it's not you, it's me"). If I had to put a number on it, I'd say this void of understanding is present in at least 90% of all inter-gender interaction. Even in instances where, seemingly, men and women should be on the same page, you will often find a very different underlying set of thought processes between the two. For instance, when my brother and his wife decided to have a third child, her reasoning ("a part of my heart is still missing from the world") was quite different from his: ("2 ON 2 WITH A HALF COURT, BABY!"). Similarly, though my fiancé' and I were recently able to easily decide on a color to paint our living room, her decisive point in favor of 'cavern moss' ("the neutral, warm tones accent the rug and complement the lamps") differed immensely from mine ("we've been at Home Depot for 3 hours and I think there might be a rule against dumping twice in the same public place.")

Indeed, even when in agreement, men rarely come remotely close to comprehending what goes on between the ears of their female counterpart and I, alas, am no different. Like most men, I am generally completely unaware of signals, cues, body language, or any other system of coding, customs and/or mores that women exclusively rely on to communicate feelings and conduct business. Constantly oblivious to these mystical communication methods, I (like most representatives of the phallice) operate under a strict "If you don't explicitly say it or make me aware of it I will assume it doesn't exist and completely ignore it" modus operandi. And, while I employ this M.O. across all disciplines in life, never is it more present than when dealing with relationships. As a card-carrying member of the Man-Brigade, I have always handled my relationships in as calculating a manner as possible, relying on logic and rational thinking to steer my proverbial ship. Conversely, I have found women take the opposite approach when dealing with men; using intuition, mood swings, and a good deal of what I can only imagine is a healthy combo of witchcraft and hocus-pocus when making decisions. I have always just assumed this to be the most insurmountable difference between men and women, and the one fundamental variation that would always keep me from coming close to "getting it." A veteran of the masculine sensibility, I have always been resigned to the fact that nothing about women would ever make sense.

Until now.

From what I can tell (and for reasons outlined above, I could be way off here), women take one of a number of different tacks when approaching/maintaining their relationships with men. You've got the most common angle, which is to fall into head-over-heels, "why isn't he calling me, IT'S BEEN FOUR HOURS!!!" love, while maintaining a cool, detached, "I couldn't give less of a sh!t about this" demeanor. There is also the "I am so hot, I don't need to swear my allegiance to any one man just yet because there will certainly be a taller, more educated man coming along tomorrow who will undoubtedly be better at sports" game plan. I have noticed this is most popular amongst college girls fresh off their Cheerleading Squad Captaincies and Homecoming Queen vote landslides. Less popular but still very frequent are the "maybe if I touch enough guys in naughty ways one of them will love me" aficionados, which all end up sliding into the 4th category, consisting of the "I've been burned enough times that I am going to hold every guy at an arm's length because, let's face it, deep inside each one is an a-hole" contingent. As detailed above, no part of me believes that I have any understanding of WHY women choose one of these routes, or why so many methods have to exist in the first place. However, this morning I realized that, testicles-be-damned, not only have I begun to identify with the girls behind door #4, I have basically (slowly and achingly) become one.

I'll explain.

Spend a few minutes talking baseball with a Reds fan and you'll repeatedly hear references to our team's futility. 10 years without a winning season. 15 years since a playoff berth. Shut out in the 1999 one-game playoff. An eternity of embarrassingly awful starting pitching. However, sit there long enough and the discussion will invariably turn to the 2010 Reds. The Reds who have overcome injury, low expectations, and an even lower payroll to fight and claw their way to a 6-game Division lead in September. Indeed, Reds fans everywhere will be quick to shower the current squad with praise, wax eloquent on the grittiness of this team (how about all those late inning comebacks?!!), and make wildly optimistic playoff predictions. If, that is, you catch them after a Reds win.

However, should you approach that same fan immediately following a couple of Reds losses, you'll encounter a whole different animal. After a bad series (and certainly the series-sweep/mauling the Rockies put on us last week qualifies) Reds fans will turn into a whiskey-drunk Eeyore. So damaged is the Reds fan base after the years of ineptitude that even in the midst of a September so filled with hope, the slightest hiccup can send us reeling into the abyss. One blown save and our bullpen is the pits. A couple Joey Votto strike-outs and we are standing in the Reds Team Shop return line, jersey in hand. Four straight losses? You would think it was 2005 and Paul Wilson was our opening day starter. As dismal as it sounds, that's life for a small-market, underachieving franchise. When things are bad, they're really bad. And when things are good, well, they won't be good for long. Its what separates us from fans of the annual contenders, and it's the active ingredient in what I've realized is an uncanny likeness between us and the girls behind door #4. Just as behind every man there lies an untrustworthy scoundrel, behind every promising Reds season is a team waiting to implode.

Again, most of the time I will admit to knowing absolutely nothing about the mind of a lady. The majority of the time, I live my life mired in complete and utter ignorance when it comes to the inner workings of the female brain. However, on this subject I can finally say I GET IT. YES, you have been hurt in the past. YES, you have worn your heart on your sleeve, only to get it ripped off and used as toilet paper. OF COURSE you have reason to distrust, as every time you have trusted you have been burned like high-fiber, low-fat toast. I HEAR THAT, SISTER. The Reds have started fast in almost every season that I can remember, and in the past my optimism knew no bounds. However, I am no longer that youthful fan, brimming with hope and willing to stomach trade deadline inactivity, failing arms in the bullpen, and late season trades. I've learned. I know better. While this team has shown all the signs of a winner, you must be outside yo' mind if you think I am takin' it home to meet Daddy. No way, no how. Because although this team continues to bounce back from mistakes, continues to crank out emotional win after emotional win, there's a part of me deep down inside that, so damaged and torn, will never quite trust them until they make an honest man out of me. Yes, they were up 8 games on the Cardinals. But then they went and got stomped by the Rockies for four straight games. Yes, they came back twice to beat the Pirates this weekend and had me feeling all jazzed up and sexy, but then they sent Coco out Sunday to blow the save and COMPLETELY RUINED IT.
I swear, I don't deserve this, girl. None of us do.

Now, some of you may be saying that the Reds of 2010 have done nothing to warrant such distrust. They've gone out every day and played hard, fought tooth and nail, and emerged with a stout divisional lead heading into the home stretch of the season. Some of you would say that at this point in mid-September, the fightin' Redlegs of 2010 deserve a little more credit. If I were thinking logically, I might agree. But, as a Cincy fan through and through, logic has no meaning and rational thinking has no place. As a fan of the Reds, you can't control how you FEEL. As much as I want to believe in this team, I have been hurt WAY too many times in the past to let my guard down now. For the last 15 years, I've been stepped on, slapped around, chewed up, and spit out. I've put in the time, I've paid the money, and I've loved the best way I knew how…only to see things crumble in front of my eyes. So yeah, they can win all they want now. They can say the right things and do the right things, but you'll excuse me if I'm not fully convinced. For every sweet Joey Votto walk-off home run it seems like there are two Coco blown saves. It's just hard to take, because I'm a great catch, I know I am.

So yeah, I'm keeping this team at arm's length until they REALLY prove something...

...Or until they give me a ring.

Reed Domer-Shank 9-13-2010

1 comment:

  1. Hummm.... see this where you really have to be a "girl" to 'get this'! Because every girl knows that underneath that ugly rock we may hold at arms length, there may be a diamond lurking! You've just got to clean it up a bit! And that's how I feel about this Red's team! Ever the optimist!! :)