Worst Insult? Or Greatest Compliment?

(This note is a “message in a bottle” back to the younger man I was. He could have saved a lot of pain if he’d just had someone to tell him a few things…)

I was twenty five at the time, working at Pepperdine University, in the A/V department. There was a gorgeous Jamaican secretary (call her Cathy) who worked in the business center, and I flirted with her every chance I got as I pushed the projector carts to this or that professor or classroom.

She was friendly, and sometimes spoke of her dating life. I remember one story about a guy who had invited her to go with her to the Bahamas, and she’d been interested until he got too aggressive about wanting a little payment in advance for the trip.

One day, I thought I saw my opening and asked her out.

She looked at me with those hazel-brown eyes, smiled kindly and said: “I wouldn’t go out with you, Steve…but I’d marry you.

I was stunned. And wandered away feeling hurt, and confused. Not angry, as I’ve heard some “Incels” become when faced by similar statements. I knew that she had been honest, and further that it wasn’t the simple insult that my 25-year-old ego tried to say it was. I was confused…but also intrigued.

And it took years. I actually had to fall in love with my first wife, live with her for years, break up, make up, get married, and have our first daughter.

THEN, at the natural birthing clinic in Culver City, I watched my daughter born, watched Toni struggling without use of drugs or medical intervention to give birth to my darling Nicki. And the first time I held my baby girl in my arms, felt her delicate heart beat, and smelled her skin…something changed inside me. That night, as Toni slept, I crept to the side of Nicki’s crib and looked down and realized that THIS was what life was about.

All the rest: the attraction, the flirting, the smooching, the dating and sex, the living together…ALL of it was to produce this beautiful child.

All of that energy, and struggle, and fun, and worry, and building, and playing….all of it was testing each other, knowing each other, asking the question:

Are you the one? Will you be with me, and help me raise my children? Are you strong? Are you kind? Are you FUN? Can you make me laugh when times are hard? Will you love me when I lose youth’s glow? If I died, would you give everything to raise the children we create together?

If so…if our values and dreams and hopes match…if we are traveling in the same direction at the same speed…perhaps we can walk together for a time.

What of birth control? Or if you are beyond the age of reproduction? Or simply don’t want children? Or gay?

Doesn’t matter. The WIRING is still the same. We are built atop that animal chassis.

So when Cathy said that to me: “I wouldn’t date you, but I’d marry you.” She wasn’t insulting me at all. She was giving me one of the greatest compliments in the world, but I couldn’t hear it.

If we over-simplify, there are two kinds of guys:

  1. The fun, hip guys, who are gorgeous and adventurous and wild, who get the blood racing. And…
  2. The slow, steady guys who you could trust to be there day after day, as life rolls on. Trust to raise those kids, or stay with you after the “limerence” of the first months of hot sex has mellowed to something steadier and more appropriate for boiling steam to drive the turbine than melting steel.

She knows, in her heart, that eventually she will setting down. But wants fun. Knows that that most guys have an average spread of ability, and won’t have both qualities. So…it is excitement at first, then steady once life gets serious.

Some guys freak out at this. The “studs” get all the girls! The “nice guys” finish last!!

What a limited, immature, dualistic way of seeing things.

Get your head out of your butt, young Steve: SHE WANTS BOTH. She herself strives to be BOTH steady and responsible and juicy and sexy. And knows that she has a limited time frame to have both. And if she is powerful, and balanced enough to hold both energies, then maybe, just MAYBE she will be able to attract a guy who is ALSO in that delicate balance…who can BOTH curl her toes and light her hair on fire AND would be steady and reliable after the business of life settles in.

Young Steve…IF YOU CAN BE BOTH, she will, as Peter O’Toole said in “Creator”, “see her unborn children in your eyes.”

That moment, when two people see that mutual potential, is one of the greatest of life. And the “nice guys” who have been careful to focus their time to produce excellence at SOMETHING that can be applied to “nest building” AND have preserved their storehouse of natural crazy…they are something special.

And they can trade that “special” for a special lady, someone who is a hoot and a holler AND a nurturing, safe space.

Deep inside, under the games, THAT is what about 99% of human beings want. We all love to play. But by the time you are old enough to watch your parents grow frail, you get the joke. You understand life has ups AND downs, and you wonder:

Who will be there?

Who will give the final damn whether I live or die?

Who will help me raise my children, or build my dreams, or walk the world with power and integrity and joy?

Who will make me laugh, or hold me when I cry?

The games of kiss and touch and sex are fantastic. They pair-bond us, help us sort through the hundreds of people we MIGHT be attracted to, adding the physicality of touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing, creativity, self-respect, energy, and inclination.

Who are you?

What is true?

All of that and more. Cathy would have trusted me for the rest of her life. But wouldn’t have expected me to blow her mind in the Bahamas for a weekend.

But if I had? If I had projected enough power to match her beauty? Game on.

Or if I had been more beautiful, as beautiful as she, with equal ambition? Game on.

But I hadn’t. She wanted all she could grab of life, while she could. JUST LIKE I DID. And she had the clarity to understand the game as it really was.

And helped me understand it. Oh, the Incels will way that what she really wanted was to have children with the “bad boy” and then trick the “nice guy” into raising it. Just like Femcels (what a fun term!) will tell you men just want to flit from flower to flower like bees, and that they cannot be trusted.

Well, yes…the immature versions of human beings, like you are at 25, feel just that way. The mature ones understand a deeper game.

So…take a deep breath. Believe in yourself. There are women of beauty, power, sensuality, and maturity out there. They are Lionesses, and they need Lions. Be one. Get the bullshit out of your system. Get ready for a life of joy, contribution, focus and maturity. Be a safe space to raise helpless children, and that good woman will offer you everything she has to give. Be a little crazy too… and you will nurture the crazy in HER.

And let me tell you, young man…whatever it costs…its worth it.




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