People

The Unexpected

I don’t know how exactly to be what you expect. We sit opposite each other on stools, staring at fudge, and somehow I don’t fit. Blue jeans and brown boots. My foot tapping, never touching the tiled floor. It’s a frame of mind, I think.

Tourists tap on the glass, pointing towards flavors they want to try. Chewy Praline, Chocolate Vanilla Swirl. But choosing isn’t the hard part, really. They’ve sampled so many, making sure to get their money’s worth. And you and I wait on each one, patiently.

In between paying customers, we pass the time with small talk. Your new haircut. My  single-ness, since I stopped talking to that guy. And all the awkward silence of guessing what I should say next.

But friend, it’s what you say that takes me by surprise. Neither cruel nor comforting. Just…an observation. I open up to you, I guess. Tell you how I spend most of my free-time watching people I don’t know tell me things through computer screens. And how all the best TV shows are made of time-traveling and british men and big blue boxes. And now you truly you notice me.

“You’d never know from how you dress,” you say, “but on the inside, you’re so dorky.”

And I guess I agree with you. I’m not “the type” to wear sneakers and sundresses. I don’t have oversized glasses or unruly hair on purpose. I wear makeup and rings and most of my wardrobe comes from a place with “American” in the title.

But still. I don’t see the point in matching pants and personality. And I don’t think it’s wrong to be misunderstood. In fact, I like that it forces people to look past my latest outfit choice to see what I’m honestly about. I don’t dress like your average dork, but does that make me any less of one?

I don’t fit, and I think that’s all right. I’ve come to accept that my clothes, my book collection, my hair color, and my most cherished song don’t constitute my being. These are things I love, not things I am. So there.

You won’t know from my attire that I’m a bit too shy to share these things in person.  I guess sometimes we hide behind our outsides, afraid to open up. To face the fact that we don’t fit.

But as you and I cut quarter pounds of fudge from the counter, scoop them up, and squeeze them into tiny boxes, I see now. And it makes sense.

The world is full of containers. For keeping people and places and objects and ideas in place. Perhaps though, the only way to enjoy them, to really appreciate their existence, is to empty the box. To break the mold by the miracle of experience.

Everyday we watch this unfold. They take that first bite, braving the uncertain. And after all this time, they travel hundreds of miles, stand in long lines, and leave filled with a new hunger for trying.

All it takes is a taste, so maybe we too can find an appetite for the unexpected.

Why Chivalry is in Question // From a Person’s Perspective

Disclaimer: This is a response to John Picciuto’s article entitled “Why Chivalry is Dead, From a Man’s Perspective”

Please read Picciuto’s article before mine to fully assume awareness of this argument:

Picciuto’s Argument 

My Response:

John Picciuto,

The first thing you should know about me is that I am not a feminist. However, I am a woman. And later we’ll touch on why that’s important. For now, and consequently for the sake of this argument, let’s just say that I’m a person. I think that’s fair.

So, John, as a person, perusing Facebook, I found your article. I clicked. I read. And I came to the conclusion that someone had to set you straight. I’m sorry to say that your intentions are misguided, your argument flawed, and your assumptions of the opposite sex, are well, insulting to say the least. Let’s start with your intentions, shall we?

From what I can tell, you don’t deny that chivalry is dead. Although this is a blanket accusation and quite a loaded statement, I’ll let it slide. I’m not here to write an article against unsubstantiated claims. That aside, your article stands to show the reasons why men’s treatment of women has wained to, as you put it, “the bare minimum.”

You don’t hesitate to place blame, either. “The real problem,” you say, “is that women, for one reason or another, have become complacent and allowed men to get away [with their treatment towards women].” Right away you’re pointing fingers, fully convinced that it’s only up  to females to fix this problem. Well John, I think you’ve got the wrong idea.

Maybe it started when you were growing up. It seems a slight delusion to believe you’ve actually “learned [your] lessons,” regarding the right way to treat a lady.

If the women in your family went out of the way to emphasize “chivalry” and “etiquette,” that’s great, but what did the men do? Tout the size of their manhood whilst handing out condoms just in case? I’m sure they practiced what they preached about safe sex, but what can you learn from their experience? Did they protect against anything other than unplanned pregnancy? A women’s feelings, for instance?

I’d like to add that the very idea that lessons must be learned suggests that chivalry, kindness, and etiquette are not innate human characteristics. We learn to love, and it’s an ongoing, cumulative collaboration between men and women. To give and take. To try to understand each other. The issue, John, isn’t a gender war or battle of the sexes. It’s an issue of equality.

Therefore, your argument that women are completely culpable is weak and ridiculous. In fact, it’s presented as a reverse-rape argument. If only women didn’t dress so provocatively, then we men might manage some self-control. But really, how can you blame us?

Somehow a man’s response is now a woman’s responsibility. You merely react to our actions or lack thereof. Well, reality check: you are a free-thinking individual who is fully equipped to take a stand and act independently of us. You don’t need to wait on a woman to be a man.

You seem to disagree, saying that, until women make the first move, “men are going to get away with putting in the bare minimum and receiving what [you] ultimately want anyway–sex.” So John, are you stating that despite your “nice guy” persona, despite the dinners, the gifts, and the engaging conversations, you’re still only after the one thing our parents warned us about? And John, are you so sure that we’ll fall for it?

I mean you seem fairly confident, my friend, that–because you’re serving steak instead of sex on a silver platter–any girl would go wild to spend more time with you. Let’s ignore then, your personality. Your personal values. Your taste in music. Let’s not care if there’s chemistry between the two of you. Because the “least” you’ll take away from this is certainty of a second date. And the most?

Well you’ve already said your ultimate goal–sex. So don’t hide behind your false sense of chivalry. We women are perfectly able to pay for our own dinners, but we’ll leave a tip for you anyway: try another approach.

You say you’re not looking for a “girlfriend” or a “wife.” Well then what’s your angle? If you want sex, which you admit outright, then why waste time pretending to be interested? Honestly, I’d rather have the shallow truth than be tricked into thinking a guy has feelings for me.

But you want to get to know a girl because what–once you know her middle name and favorite color it’s then fine to take her home, have sex, and forget all about her? Oh wait, but you paid for her dinner. You opened the car door for her. You even went the extra mile to laugh at her jokes. So she owes it to you. To all the “nice guys” who bash casual sex but beg for it with every bouquet of flowers and flirtatious compliment.

And so, John. You hope that “eventually…women will wise up and start asking for the things they deserve.” But what if we don’t want to have to ask?

What if that is the true meaning of chivalry? Doing something nice for the sake of doing something nice.

I would like to think that we can solve these issues of equality together. What if women understood and displayed their worth to the world? What if men acted with no ulterior motives?

Maybe chivalry is dead. But maybe it isn’t.

Maybe it’s politely waiting to be understood.

Sincerely,

Sarah E. Runyon