As much as people say that the sexes are equal and we’re working toward equality and the glass ceiling is slowly becoming a myth and all the world is a happy family with no sexual discrimination, none whatsoever, no siree Bob, no way no how….
…the truth is that many an Older Gentleman has not gotten the memo. And, well, you know… they were the people who were supposed to get it, marked URGENT! FOR YOUR REVIEW! PLEASE READ!
But probably since a woman delivered said memo, they didn’t bother reading it.
A couple of days ago, I had such an Older Gentleman encounter. Let me tell you– I suddenly felt like I should be with my hair in sculpted waves and wrapped around some lacy apron, carefully mumbling something along the lines of, "Why certainly, sir! And how many sugars do you take with your coffee?" just low enough to avoid interrupting The Man.
Well, I was kind of the boss.
Let me explain: for Valentine’s day, I have arranged something deliciously goofy for Monsieur Meow– something I will not yet disclose because I know just how surprises work, and I am bad at keeping secrets. The one thing you all need to know is that, in order to arrange for this surprise to happen, I needed to talk to men– specifically, to Older Gentlemen.
The first older gent I had the pleasure of speaking with was very sweet and professional. He was courteous and nice and he definitely clinched the deal. He understood that since he was providing a service for which I would pay him, that made me the boss and the one to call the shots; and if it bothered him to know that money made him take orders from a woman, his voice and demeanor did not show it.
A couple of days later, I got a call from one of the people providing the service in question. It was an Older Gentleman, wanting to know EXACTLY how to get to my house.
I patiently explained to him that, despite its being an odd-sounding address, it was perfectly easy to find. I offered to give him step-by-step instructions if he thought it would help.
Well…. I would have patiently explained this, if he’d allowed me to talk. For the next five to seven minutes, I had to pussyfoot around his important barking and his smooth baritone, because while he called to have some things clarified it was patently clear that he did not want MY help. He demanded my attention and chided me for having a strange address. He wouldn’t let me finish my sentences. He said he was perfectly capable of finding what he needed if only I cooperated. He wasn’t exactly nasty, but he was rather intractable.
He did not say it, and he was not trying to be rude, but there was that condescending note hidden in every word and every turn of phrase: he did not trust me to tell him how to get to my house because, well, if HE, WHITE MALE, with the help of MapQuest and God Almighty, couldn’t figure it out, then how could I –feeble and younger member of the fair sex– ever help him out?
I suppose that actually living in town and knowing how to get to my house doesn’t count. It certainly didn’t count in Hawaii when salespeople over the phone insisted that they weren’t aware that people actually *lived* in Hawaii.
I finally had to interrupt him and assert myself– he who has the gold rules after all. But I just wish that it weren’t so hard to deal with people like that.
Then again, I wouldn’t have a blog entry otherwise, would I?
BONUS: A lovely list of tips from a 1950s Home Economics book– back when women knew their place. Taken from Paco’s Funnies.
- Have dinner ready: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a
delicious meal – on time. This is a way of letting him know that you
have been thinking about him, and are concerned about his needs. Most
men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal
are part of the warm welcome needed.
- Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be
refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your
hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work- weary
people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring
day may need a lift.
- Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main
part of the house just before your husband arrives, gathering up
school books, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the
tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and
order, and it will give you a lift, too.
- Prepare the children: Take a few minutes to wash the children’s
hands and faces if they are small, comb their hair, and if necessary,
change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to
see them playing the part.
- Minimize the noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all
noise of washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. Try to encourage the
children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm
smile and be glad to see him.
- Some Dont’s: Don’t greet him with problems or complaints.
Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner. Count this as minor compared
with what he might have gone through that day
- Make him comfortable: Have him lean back in a comfortable chair
or suggest he lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink
ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes.
Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax
- Listen to him: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the
moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.
- Make the evening his: Never complain if he does not take you
out to dinner or to other places of entertainment; instead, try to
understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and
- The goal: Try to make your home a place of peace and order
where your husband can relax.
Re: Home Economics words of advice: !!! jaw dropped !!! OMG.
I certainly feel your pain. The thing is, there are just jerks out there, yes usually men “d’un certain age”, who know everything, obviously, and you just never can. I used to attribute it to my youthful appearance and crazy hippy hair (as you attribute it to your femininity), but I have a suspicion that these people are like that even with eachother. Ever watch our VP on television? He’s rarely interviews by someone female or dark, yet he’s always, um, a little know it all. Imagine if he worked for the post office or as a trash collector? Same attitude, plus a bigger chip on the shoulder.