Courting Confusion

I made a mistake recently. Well, I’ve made numerous mistakes lately, but one stands out in my mind almost two weeks later.

In an attempt at acting like a gentleman, I held a door open for a woman I am no longer dating. I doubt that she said goodbye because of this; in many ways, though, it was a microcosm of all that didn’t work with us.

It’s safe to say that my former date is a thoroughly modern woman. She knows what she wants and doesn’t shy away from expressing it. I admire this quality, but to a point. When she applied her “liberation” to my door-holding gesture, I was left confused and frustrated.

“Oh, you don’t need to do that,” she said with a laugh. You’d have thought I had insulted her intelligence.

There is no law stating: “Man Must Always Open Door For Woman,” but if there were I’m sure my date would claim a caveman had written it. Let’s just say, on our way out, she went first.

I know very little about women, but I do know that deep down women want respect. Today, however, there are no rules for how one shows respect. Some women like to have a man who opens doors. Some women like to open doors themselves. Some don’t care either way. The point is that, as a man trying to date in the twenty-first century, I don’t know what women want.

It’s like we’re dancing, but nobody’s quite sure of the moves. We’re learning as we go, and right when we think we’ve got it, the song changes from ballroom to polka to techno.

Now I’m not sure about next time, with a new partner, if I should lead or follow. I just know I want to dance.


Gun Control

Many folks have tried to politicize the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School today. I’m not afraid to enter the discussion. I propose a simple solution to prevent another mass shooting in America: arm every man, woman and child.

If all the children at Sandy Hook had a gun, the shooter wouldn’t have gotten as far. “To each his gun,” I say.

It’s the twenty-first century. Everyone has a cell phone. Everyone should have a gun.

Really Messy

I just completed my second semester as a volunteer literacy tutor at my local high school for adult students for whom English is a second, third, or fourth language. This term I tutored a factory worker from Belarus named Dzmitry. It sounds cliche but over the last ten weeks I learned a lot more than I taught.

It was clear from the start that Dzmitry likes to ask questions. He craves knowledge, wants to know why, desires the bigger picture. But he often meets resistance.

“People don’t like me asking questions,” he said, half-amused, half-resigned. “And I have many questions.”

After hearing this, I took it upon myself to let Dzmitry ask away. We never rushed through assignments but instead picked apart paragraphs and sentences, words and syllables. He wanted to overcome his accent. I told him it is part of him, that it’s nothing to hide. Above all, I gave him the freedom to inquire, to seek both the trees and the forest.

I was thrilled to find someone comfortable with uncertainty. Life is really messy and there’s a lot of shit to dig through, but it’s great when someone offers you a shovel and you take it.