In Defense of White Anglo-Saxon American Protestant Women (and the Continuing Search for the Difference Gene)
A few days ago, while doing my weekly power walk down Sunset Blvd in search of ground provisions and other forms of sustenance, there in front of the 99c store loomed ahead of me a young lady hogging the center lane, and sauntering a bit wobbly. I was unable to determine her exact trajectory so stayed right behind her until the last moment, when I suddenly swerved left to attempt to overtake on the inside lane, at which time she swung wide to let me pass, while simultaneously giving me a long once-over—which I apparently passed—then flashed me a big sh*t-faced grin and a big two-fingered peace sign (one finger bad, two fingers good; got it). Well, I don’t get that every day, so bounced the big smile back, but keeping all my fingers right where they were, afraid of a catastrophic miscount.
Then I started thinking: what just happened? I’ve been grinned up and chatted up more in the last thirty days than the last thirty years put together. What does it mean? Am I radiating something? Do spray-tans really work? (After a near-eviction, I’ve been swimming for exercise instead of my usual rowdy calisthenics, hence the seasonal rosy glow). I’ve narrowed it down to a few possibilities: 1) I slipped into a space-time discontinuity, and am now reporting to you from a parallel universe called Zandorf; or 2) the young lady not only approved of my increasing beardliness, but assumed it represented something larger, and more of the hippie sort than the Islamic; or 3) she was an out-of-stater, looking for a little tea and sympathy, and perhaps something stronger; or 4) all of the above; or 5) none of the above.
For better or worse, I’m not particularly lecherous, only mildly so, and I was already in fourth gear of a brisk walkabout, so I instinctively passed on the mile-wide invite to chat-up with possible options for extended truck parking. After all, I am still married…I think (maybe I should check). And she was someone’s daughter. And she was young enough to be my own (gulp) granddaughter (okay, so Big Gulp). And if she’s looking for close encounters of the psychedelic kind, I really didn’t have anything to offer, except maybe a Pacifico Beer the guard at US Bank gave me that his buddy gave him that he didn’t really want ‘cause he’s a PBR guy, so he gave me the Pacifico and a Guinness that I already drank in a moment of weakness. He’s from LA, too, Tallulah, LA, that is, right across the Mississippi River from Vicksburg, so we had lots to talk about, notwithstanding the fact that he’s black and I’m white (wait a minute; let me check).
I guess I could’ve looked up one of the Med Mari docs, Dr. Alex Popovsky or something like that, played the cancer card, and probably been in and out of Grateful Meds or Toke-of-the-Town within an hour (don’t know, I’ve never tried it, though it could be a good career move, I guess), but… naah. There’s something else, though, that’s harder to talk about, because I don’t know if anyone else has the same problem… and you’re not my therapist, after all.
At some point along the way of growing up and getting older, maybe hopefully wiser, I stopped thinking of White Anglo-Saxon American Protestant women (WASAP for short, pronounced ‘tsup’) as possible physical/romantic partners, and that’s not intended as an insult. In fact I started thinking of them as buddies and best friends. Not being especially lecherous, only mildly so, I’m not a particularly macho gabacho, either, I guess, so I’ve got lots of them, equal or greater than the number of male friends, probably. To pursue one physically would almost be to pursue a same-sex relationship, and one in which I couldn’t claim, “I was born that way.”
I wasn’t born that way. Growing up in 60’s middle-class America, I was a disciple of Beaver Cleaver and Dennis the Menace and all the others for whom girls could be summarized in one word: “Yuk.” What Wally and Dobie and all the others were doing hanging out with them was beyond me… teenage BS, I guess. Girls didn’t play with tadpoles; they played with dolls. That’s all I knew. Disgusting! Then when puberty kicked in, that disgust turned into outright fear. The devil now had a name and its name was Woman, vast and monolithic, unfathomable and impenetrable; mostly impenetrable, actually. Analyze that! So why did I want it so bad(ly)? The plot thickened, sometimes even sickened, but mostly slim pickin’d…
Then the 60’s became the 70’s, confusion became confession, and my worst fears all had names, but that name was no longer Woman. Still it wasn’t so easy. Kids had to die in the streets before they could get back to the garden. Kids had to die in Vietnam before they could get back to the suburbs. Kids had to tie-dye their clothes and tie up their loose ends and tie up their minds in multi-colored rainbows before they could get back to Nature.
A college professor once asked my class what we wanted most in life. This was 1973. He wanted us to write it down, no show of hands required. This was to be an official—albeit limited—survey. Well, that’s a no-brainer. The answers would be categorized by gender. About a third of the girls wanted families; about a third wanted rewarding careers, about a third just wanted peace of mind. About a third of the guys wanted families, about a third wanted rewarding careers, and about a third wanted money. Only one wanted peace of mind. Hi.
It seems I had more in common with Women than I had previously suspected, they the great Other of the world and the universe, Otherness writ large and blandished in front of me like a red flag to a bull. But wait a minute. I soon realized there was a whole Other world out there that had nothing to do with women, white women at least, American women, that is. Today I doubt I could even have a good fight with a WASAP—something essential for a complete relationship. I’d be too preoccupied thinking about the Tupperware™ we could be buying instead. I’m half-joking.
What can I say? I don’t enjoy hunting, and I don’t watch sports on TV (or Internet), though I do enjoy playing them. But women are no longer that sport, not WASAP’s at least. It seems there are other options, a rainbow of femininity in all shades of bloom and flower, all shades of makeup and powder. There is a world of options in fact, and that is the beauty of it, the world, that is, and that defines my life I guess. I doubt there is a ‘Difference’ gene any more than there is a God gene, but if there is, then it may be the same one, whether that indeed is gene VMAT2. “Vive la difference?” You might want to be careful how you use that term around me. Don’t get me started.