man stuff

TWIGGY

FEMINISM MAGNIFIED PART ONE
TWIGGY: A LOVE STORY

THE GREASE
Recently North America has been held hostage by yet another scandalous media circus about gender. This is the latest in a series of spats pitting the left against the right, elites against populists, and importantly, a small segment of feminists against all men.

I’d like to make a couple of points about this, namely to say the attention is not the reality, sort of the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And secondly, feminism has been magnified in scope from decent beginnings. My expertise is only as a witness to the era.

I was born in 1957. Not a particularly aware child, I began reading newspapers early. By the time I left home in the early 1970s, I wasn’t savvy about survival, but was well-exposed to adult issues.

Government, women, war and nuclear annihilation, jobs and the economy, the civil rights movement and finally, women’s liberation, were generally discussed. As Canada opened, immigration became a hot topic, but by the time that happened I was an adult myself.

I had worked from the age of ten or so, first at newspapers and then at lawns and snow shoveling, then adult jobs, which meant I had older people around sounding off on everything. Being a polite kid, I made for a good listener.

Absorbing the moods and frustrations of the times, I still remember the sense I got from people in those days. It’s not much different from stuff folks talk of today.

At 16, I hung with a group of guys and we all worked and sold dope and partied the rest of the time. My two-bedroom place at one address or another was often overrun with young teenage runaways who would move in and cook and clean for a place to stay.

Almost my whole sixteenth year was spent living with a handful of wenches and my part-time roommate. Mike was his name, and he fought a lot with his dad, so he kept a place with me as refuge but often went home for a week or more.

If you showed the slightest interest in one of those gals during the day, she’d be climbing under your covers that night. The pill had made a big difference by this time; all the girls I knew were on it.

THE DAME
The next time I was tangentially involved in the women’s rights movement was when Twiggy moved in. Only, she was no teenager.

She was a mother of two children and had already hit the wall. That makes her over 30 in my estimation. I lived in a sprawling two-bedroom on Marier Street in Vanier, in those days a predominantly French enclave East of Ottawa’s Lowertown.

Twiggy isn’t her real name. In fact, I don’t even know her name now, despite spending those weeks with her one summer when I was sixteen.

She and her husband were Scientologists, and had a house in Overbrook, the neighbourhood just South of Vanier. It was my friend Mickey who brought her over. Mickey was a wild man. He always had wheels and he drove drunk like everyone else in those days.

THE INTERLUDE
I remember learning the car-chase dodge from Mickey. It was coming back from Hull, which is just over the bridge on the Quebec side and where you could drink until 3 in the morning and buy quarts of beer from corner stores at any age.

Somehow, he got into an imagined beef with a car in front who braked in a fashion Mickey didn’t appreciate on Rideau Street, the main road into Vanier from downtown.

Right near Charlotte Avenue, Mick pulls out and passes these guys and nips in front of them at the lights. Then he’s out of the car in a flash with steel nunchuks from under his seat and is swinging away at the car behind us before any of us can react.

He takes out both their headlights and smashed off their sideview mirror, and then cracks the fuck out of their windshield while the guys inside cower, too afraid to come out and meet this madman. We all got out, but it happened so fast we just watched. Then, Mick jumps back in and we’re off as the light turns green, leaving their car all fucked up.

Problem was a cab driver saw it all and was on our tail with the radio mic in his hand. We speed as he chased us all through an area just over the Montreal Road bridge called Eastview. Mick was having trouble shaking the cab and knew it would only be a matter of time for cops to show up in numbers.

So, he floored it on one block to put a bit of distance between him and the cab driver, turned a left at the top of the block at speed and another left onto the next block without hardly slowing down, and quickly pulled into the second or third driveway and shut off the engine and lights. “Everybody down!” he shouted.

Sitting in the front seat, I leaned back and allowed myself to slink into the leg room area, just catching the cab whizzing by the end of the block a few doors away. Mick rolled his window down and waited until he heard the other car’s engine rev on the next block, then started up and retraced his step, going right and zig zagging out of the area in the opposite direction.

It was like something right out of the movies, but it worked. Eastview and Vanier streets were like a rat’s maze, but we knew them well. In no time, we’d circled wide and had the car parked behind my place.

THE PROBLEM
Anyway, back to Mickey and Twiggy. He knew her somehow, and knew of her situation. He wasn’t fucking her either, they were more friends or neighbours. All I remember is him showing up and asking Mike if she could stay there temporarily. Mike checked with me; we rarely turned down women.

We already had two wonderful gals staying there, Bev and Janet, who had followed us from our last place around the corner on Laval Street. I was temporarily out of work I think, so spent a lot of time at the apartment, sometimes banging both in the same day.

I realize now Mickey called our guest Twiggy for a reason. She was beautiful, with jet black hair cut very short in the style of mom’s have made their children a priority. She was short, maybe 5’3” and curvy enough, good hip to waist ratio. Hence, Mickey was being kind.

I remember her saying something to him, with a slightly embarrassed look on her face and Mickey responding with something like, “Who you kidding? You’re like… Twiggy.” And that’s how he introduced her, and, catching on, that’s what I called her. The real Twiggy was a top model in the 1960, thin and still popular in the 1970s.

I spent at least two weeks with our guest, day and night. Of course, other people came by and bought hash, and we all cooked and cleaned and slept and banged. But most of my attention was on Twiggy.

She had jet-black hair eyes to match, with those endearing crow’s feet women get around the eyes. When she smiled, her lashes and crow’s feet and the glint in her eyes combined to make them shine like diamonds. And her smile, teeth white and wide. I would have followed that smile anywhere and done anything to see it again.

I had a crush on her. And I flirted with her. She laughed at the attention and would explain why it would never work out. I’d counter with an objection answer, selling myself for a song. And she was so sweet to me, and all I wanted to do was make her happy. We talked, a lot. We spoke intimately in a way not possible with the slew of young gals I’d been hanging around with.

She told me her husband had got her into Scientology. I remember reading L. Ron Hubbard’s book back then. There were people handing them out for free. I’d read more than a hundred sci-fi books before leaving home and so this was up my alley. I found it disappointing and wondered how anyone could buy into the premises he proposed.

But not Twiggy and her husband. She said his big thing was becoming “clear,” that is, having divulged every little secret, every little fantasy or sin or bad thought that has ever crossed your mind. Clear is clear. This was the key to the Scientologist’s freedom, to be rid of the tyranny of guilt and distortion, to lose the need for lies. To bare it all.

Only, he didn’t like what she had to say and used it to question their marriage. She protested, and demanded he pull away from Scientology—for the sake of her and their two children, for all them—refusing to continue herself.

That was her downfall. It was his excuse to begin a new relationship with one of the faithful and declare her, for all intents and purposes, and ex-communicated soul. They went to court and used the information told to the flock as proof of her inadequacy as a parent and her failure as a wife. He took her children. She lost them.

It hurts a man to lose contact with his children, I know this now. But I’m 60 and have a lifetime of tales from men to inform me. But to take a woman’s children, from a loving mother who cares and nurtures and is attentive and gave them birth?

At 16, already I knew this to be against the natural order of things. I knew then it was as egregious as it is now.

Her pain was immense. It was all-encompassing. It doubled her over in despair. It took this beautiful, vivacious ray of sunshine and darkened her like a night of clouds. She sought to bear it alone, to not share this burden with anyone else lest it be misunderstood. Lest it compound her shame. I stood by her the best I could but more, it was that I could not help her. I wanted to act. She wouldn’t let me..

But I felt her pain like a man programmed to protect should. I wanted to exact revenge and make her whole. My every cell burned with desire to serve under her in pursuit of justice. I would have made her my main mission and righteously stopped at nothing to restore her peace; anything to prevent her smile and diamond eyes from going dim.

But it was not to be. In those days, adultery could lose a woman access to her children. A man with a stable home and stand-in wife could apparently take a woman’s children with the right lawyer and judge.

The law was unfair. It seemed so to me.

THE CHANGE
When I think back to those times of the women’s movement, I think of Twiggy. We needed laws to recognize greater equality between us. Like most things that are settled by justice, change takes time, but we usually get there. As more women entered the workforce, their influence grew, and change came.

Did we need a full-fledged women’s rights organization to achieve these wholesale changes as we moved to equality? It’s anyone’s guess but I don’t think we did, certainly not past the “women’s liberation” stage of things. But that’s just my impression. I’ll leave the sociologists and journalists to argue the merits of each side better than I can.

Like most social upheavals, you get a pendulum swing that overcompensates for one group at the cost to another. It’s not enough to say the bigger the injustice the greater the swing, because the civil right movement never benefitted blacks this way. Cultures in the west often lurch to and fro but the women’s movement lurched far.

Now we see men being left behind in family court in a way that is not dissimilar to the extreme prejudice found 50 years ago against women in Twiggy’s circumstances. Comeuppance? Come on.

Why, I remember the neighbourhood guys telling me a man was legally allowed to rape his wife when I was a kid. I was probably twelve or so. Couldn’t be charged for it. Rape was only considered an offense outside of marriage after 1983. Legal stuff. Important legal stuff.

I say all this to underline the necessity of change in my lifetime. Like a lot of things which begin with good intentions and do some good, intersectionality is a another example, feminism has morphed into a destructive force. It’s all but destroyed conventional marriage and it’s being exported across the world. Look no further than the hilarious, “Do it for Denmark,” campaign begging men to impregnate women younger and more often lest the population disappear.

THE REALISM
Fact is, even back then, the Twiggy’s were few and far between. Tragic as her case was, and as moved by it as I was and am, it was far from the norm. Most people got along and lived out their lives with the usual ups and downs as successfully or unsuccessfully as they could. Gender norms and the rest of it never had much to do with it.

Men and women have always banded together to find ways to support each other in life, to carve out an existence from the raw materials of culture and environment. It’s important to remember this has not changed. We still have wives and girlfriends and mothers and sisters, and we still consult and cooperate with them as we always have.

We are still likely to pair-bond and create a life with a person of the opposite sex, as we have for tens of thousands of years. It took a long time for women to domesticate men into caring for them and their young, feminism is ruining a good thing for all, especially for mothers of children.

It reminds me of the Lindy effect Nicholas Taleb talks about in one of his books: a book in print for a hundred years will most certainly still be in print in one hundred more. A book in print for just a few years has almost no chance of still being around a century from now.

I’ll bet on Mother Nature. Men and women will keep doing their thing, and for the most part with nothing but the best of intentions on both sides following prescribed paths set down long ago. The shrill minority you hear in the media does not speak for most women.

It might pique some women’s collective interest at times and to a degree. But feminism’s anger is not how women live with men—because men and women don’t live that way and last. It’s unsustainable because it means us versus them, and that’s not living at all. It’s not love.

THE GOODBYE
I realize now Twiggy was waiting for a cheque. She never told me this but I’m sure that’s what held up her departure for she knew she was leaving soon as something was settled. I suppose it took two weeks or so, maybe three on the outside.

I lost the battle to become her new knight in shining armour. Perhaps I was just bullshitting myself, enamored as I was by her intelligence and maturity, and her smile and eyes, and her kindness towards me.

On the morning she left, she pulled me to her. We’d never made love and frankly, it was not a dominant thought of mine that we should.

It was with some surprise that I allowed her to take my hand and bring me to her mattress on the floor, covering us with her sleeping bag. There she was naked and smiling. Her skin was softer and fragile than any woman’s body I had ever touched. She was warm and tender, and insisted I fuck her before she left.

I remember thinking, “You don’t have to do this,” but she went about it as if she was paying me off somehow. I knew to turn her down it might hurt her—the last thing I wanted. I’d never pursued her body, it was her wisdom, her encouragement, and her vulnerability which matched us. It is men who are the romantics after all. And boys.

She was hitchhiking out west on her own. I wanted to come with her, to make sure she was safe. She laughed at me and caressed my cheek, saying she’d get better rides without a boyfriend. I knew she was right. Half the people I knew hitchhiked across the country.

I walked her over to Beechwood Avenue. There I sat on the steps of historic St Charles Church, as she went across to the north side of the street with her giant backpack and sleeping bag rolled up and laced on in traveler’s fashion. She stuck her thumb out and for a few cars, each time a group passed she’d smile at me and wave.

I waited for no more than 10 minutes, tears streaming down my face but too far away for her to see, waving back and forth. Only then could I express the sorrow I felt for her, out of her sight. I was proof where there is one man, albeit not much more than a boy, who would devote himself to her, there would be more.

And then, with one final wave and a dazzling smile I can still see in my mind’s eye, she was gone.

She acts as my fading avatar for women’s rights.

Gone from my life, impossible to forget.

Stay powerful,

Christopher K Wallace

©ckwallace, 2018, all rights reserved

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WHERE MEN EXIST

WHERE MEN EXIST

Sometimes good lessons come from the most mundane experiences. It’s usually moments with few witnesses where little miracles play out in our lives. It’s especially true in matters of the heart. For me, it’s these times where I remember: we find it early or we find it late, but we must find love.

My boy shit his pants today. I know, not exactly something to write home about, but in so many other ways it was. Poor kid. Missus kept him home from school because he’d been a little worn out yesterday. I’ve learned not to question her intuition regarding her boy. She’s usually right.

I heard him first from about 75 feet away, near the double outhouse just past the rabbit pens. It’s on the edge of the cut lawn, if I can call it lawn. It’s also where missus has a couple of nooses tacked up against the overhanging roof of the old double-seater outhouse there, just so she can string up chickens.

As usual, I was killing, she was processing. These were meat birds she’d let live long past their due date as an experiment. She wanted to know if she could turn them into egg layers. She got two or three eggs out of one of the four birds, total.

She’s from the city and all this is new to her. She can take the time and learn on her own in whichever way she wants as far as I’m concerned. If she wants to allow an 8-week meat bird to live to 16 weeks just to see what happens, she can.

Though, I’d been reminding her to whack these fowl for a month, she resisted. Today, she relented, if I do the “coup de grace.” Fine by me, men are used to doing the dirty jobs. We’re handy in that way.

In any case, I’d just strung up the last one and done the deed. The bird was flapping wildly and flinging blood all around. Missus likes me to leave them bled and with the head off. I oblige her, she does the rest.

And today, as that final bird’s head came off, I heard his cry: “Daddy, I pooped my pants!” I wasn’t sure I’d heard correctly and since he was a way across the yard, past the rabbits and the pond and the burn barrel and up on the back porch, I got him to repeat it.

“I pooped my pants,” he repeated, along with an explanation about what happened, but I couldn’t make it out from that far away. I just needed him to confirm what I thought he said. He did. He had indeed shat his pants—or had an accident if you prefer. His ma was elbow deep in blood and feathers. It fell to me.

Instructing him to not move, not an inch, I put away my tools and drove the Mule with its now empty cages back over to his side of the grass. I parked and put away the hatchet and utility knife, remembering in my haste to not take the chance of leaving them out lest I forget about them.

I found him impatient and concerned, standing at the top of the steps on the porch, and full of reasons. On mostly a liquid diet because of a collapsing windpipe, he has only recently began to eat fuller meals. I suppose that means his readiness in such a case is still in development.

He’d tried to make it, running from “over there,” pointing to where missus was processing her chickens under the crab apple tree. He’d been hanging around her while she worked and couldn’t get inside on time.

Regardless of his condition, I knew precisely what to do and what to say and I’ll tell you why. I remember shitting my pants as a boy about his age, some 55 years ago.

MY FIRST MEMORY
It was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I was probably 4 but could have been 5. Ma had ten pregnancies in 12 years, so by the time I was 4 or 5 there were lots of us around. She was taxed to the limit. The brother two up from me was bronchial asthmatic, then she lost a girl before me—which she later blamed on painting the stairs with lead paint—and the sister after me was sickly. If I was 5 then there would have been at least a couple more in diapers and likely ma would have been expecting.

As a sensitive kid, I remember toilet training was traumatic under the circumstances. I was a disappointment and took more years to learn than my mother would have liked. Poor ma, she did her best, but I wore her patience out soundly.

But, that day she was nowhere in sight. Who knows where she was, maybe at the doctors, maybe giving birth? Instead, a fearful man was in charge. I’d been warned by ma to be on my best behavior.  I remember getting a pre-scolding about it, a finger-shaking and stern talking to before she left. I was afraid already.

And so, as it was every day, we were fed and put outside. I wasn’t allowed to leave the property, so while my two older brothers and eldest sister were off doing something else, I lingered out front on the sidewalk.

When the urge to go hit me, it was sudden and forceful. From the sidewalk, eyeing the steps up the walk way and the distance to the front door and its porch, I knew I’d never make it. I needed a reschedule.  Desperately, I sat down on a cement step and wedged the sharp edge of its form into the crack of my ass, fully expecting to arrest the forward movement of my stool.

Not a chance. Nature had other plans and out came the inevitable. Only now, it mushroomed inside my underwear and immediately pancaked against both cheeks. I’m sure at some point I realized the futility of my attempt to thwart its progress and probably allowed the rest of the number to proceed disastrously as it intended. I was helpless, all-in on failure. Ma’s warning foretold my misery. Of all the days for this to happen…

I was in a pickle now. Looking back over my shoulder at the door to the house, remembering ma’s seriousness before she left, fearful of the navy man home on leave whom I knew only as a stranger, the idea of him being my father not a concept grasped with any comfort, I was filled with escalating dread.

It was here I realized my options were limited. I could not sit there in my shit, it’s caking and sticking to my bum obvious to anyone walking by from the smell alone. It would only be a matter of time before either a kid from the neighbourhood or my own siblings would find me there. Either way, the man in the house would be alerted and who knows what would happen?

I decided to sneak back in and attempt my own rescue. Up I went, waddling, penguin-like down the cement walkway towards the front door. I didn’t hold much promise of pulling this off, just as I knew sitting out front of the house on the two steps down to the sidewalk with a full load in my pants was not viable.
DUDLEY STREET, HALIFAX, N.S

Approaching the door, carefully, legs spread wide most uncomfortably, with a serious demeanour, I reached for the front handle.

To my surprise, suddenly it opened from inside and there stood my father. He towered over me, handsome I suppose, looking poised in his sleeveless T-shirt and crew-cut hair,  smoking a cigarette I’m pretty sure. Looking me up and down, the paralysis of my body matching the stunned look on my face, he exhaled smoke and enquired something to the effect of, “Had a little accident, son?” How did he know?

He had a neutral look on his face from what I can remember. There was no hint of disgust or disappointment. It was all a matter-of-fact sort of thing. I know I stumbled a weak reply, affirming his suspicion and adding in explanation.

In answer, all he did was toss his finished smoke pass me onto the lawn or driveway and say, “Well, let’s get you inside and cleaned up.”

No lecture. No waggling fingers. No raised voice. No angry story about letting anyone down. No accusation about doing it on purpose. No nothing. Just sanctuary and the promise of cleanliness and fresh clothes.

Whomever this man was, I felt a physical shift I can still remember. He’d earned the right to be called my father at that moment. He was strong, powerful, undeterred by the problems at hand. He was unrushed and purposeful. He was in charge and that was fine by me. No tragedy was too great for him to handle. Unflappable and confident he was. It’s my purest image of masculinity.

It was with great relief I submitted to my father’s care that day. I don’t remember much of how he got me whole again, but I remember a deep respect for him from the experience. He had modeled something I had not seen, and it’s never left me, not in the more than half century since.

BACK TO TODAY
It was not me answering the worried call of my boy’s lament this morning. No. Not at all. It was my father who exists inside of me who today rose to the challenge in the same way he had all those years ago.

It is he who calmly took charge and without judgment got the boy out of his clothes, washed him off with the hose and poured him a warm bath. It was my father who toweled off my boy as he chattered about the experience to me in broken images of how it all came to be. It was my father who listened patiently and joked with the boy so that he smiled and laughed and stayed connected. It was my father. It was all my father you see.

And now, my 89-year old dad is languishing in a memory care ward at an old age home. He was put there by my sisters for his own good, his dementia having progressed too far to live at home any longer. He’s busted both hips, one of them twice, and the falls were becoming too numerous for their care to allow. He’s sometimes incoherent, a travesty for a man who lived surrounded by books.

Of those ten pregnancies, he and my deceased mother raised nine children. My father has five sons, four of whom had sons. Yet, none named a boy after their dad, Howard Carew Wallace. I teased him it was because he was a drinker when a young man and pissed everyone off—so no one thought to ensure his name endured.

To be fair, neither did he encourage it. You see, my father’s father was also named Howard. Howard Vincent Wallace was a WW1 vet and had disowned my father right when he was about the same age as I was that day in Halifax. His first memory was of his father striking his mother and leaving the family destitute and abandoned, and not returning for over 30 years.

My father had attempted to reconcile with his father in the time since his return to live in Ottawa, but it never came to pass. I remember angry arguments between them as a boy growing up. Dad lived his whole life burdened with the self-loathing of the rejected. Named after his father, and his spitting image, he waited for some sign of acknowledgement. His father insisted he was not his.

When my grandfather died aged 98, it was my father who held his frail old hand, still waiting for recognition, for a sign of reconciliation and acceptance. It never came.

It was this understanding which allowed me the kind of awareness I needed to move past this part of my father’s legacy. Despite the odd glimpse of what could have been, his pain was too great and compounded over too many years to allow him to be much of a father himself.

He did his best. It wasn’t good enough but it’s all he had.

As I moved through my own life the effects of the men before me followed like a curse. It was my first son well over thirty years ago which forced me to confront the chaos that had followed us all. It was there I took a stand. If at first just an impulse to survive knowing there had to be a better way, eventually I was forced to go deep and find the wisdom I know my father would have wanted to teach had he been able to.

TAKING A STAND
I can trace five generations of Wallace turmoil through the men before me. It was up to me to stand up and decide as a father and as a man: the pain stops here.

Every so often over the years, as I’d tell dad something about my approach to parenting, he would remark to someone in the room, “Christopher is doing his best to not be like me,” and I would know it was his way of approving without contesting his own deficiencies.

At first I didn’t realize it was that obvious but later saw I was proceeding as a father exactly as he observed, with all my might.

When I got a second gift at parenting, it was finally time to give my father a namesake. Indeed, that little boy who shit his pants this morning is also Howard. Howard Thomas William Wallace.  I dare say, when Little Howie visits with me at Grandpa Howie’s, it’s magic between them.

It wasn’t a burden helping the boy this morning, it wasn’t at all an inconvenience. No. For my father, for us both, for all the Wallace men before me and after me, it was an honour; it was a privilege.

And that’s the way it works among us, isn’t it? It is insufficient to describe we each inhabit ourselves alone. The idea you are you and I am I, that you are over there, and I am over here, is a weak explanation for how we really live. For this is not at all true. We clearly exist in each other.

My father was once a cub reporter for the very Halifax paper which carried the news of his own idolized grandfather’s death. He’s been taking a shortcut with his horse and buggy and was struck by a train in 1919. I found the original article for him a couple of years ago, when he was still lucid and could read. Still searching for an identity all this time after having his own robbed during his lifetime, he thought it was a great find, considering his grandfather a hero.

He spent the better part of three decades in Her Majesty’s Royal Canadian Navy and rose to Lt Commander, visiting over 50 countries. He chaired the group which wrote the English style book for the public service of Canada. He taught me how to write when I was fifty.

Old soldiers never die, they just fade away, said McArthur. My father sleeps 22 hours most days. He has slightly better days and not so good ones. Probably soon, he will stop eating as he winds down like an old clock.

But he’ll not be gone, faded yes, but not gone. Instead, like any of us connected to each other, he’ll echo endlessly down through time in the people he affected along his way. Especially  in those he loved and who loved him.

Today, for a few moments, I was happy to be my father.

Unknowingly, so was my boy and hopefully, my father will appear in my boy’s boy one day too.

For better or worse, fathers exist in their sons.

Stay powerful,

True and Free,

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FIRST DATE DECIPHER

Something that comes up often enough is how to approach a woman. That’s not my thing. There are plenty of pick up artists and relationship experts out there who will give you tips on this. Often, it’s advice for free, sometimes for a fee.

No. My thing about dating has always taken a backdoor route. That doesn’t mean I slap some wench on the ass and get lucky. Not now, not ever. However, it means I don’t approach this directly in the conventional sense. It’s just not so full-frontal attack. No way.

Bear with me and I’ll explain what I’ve learned.

I know it is women who do the choosing. And I also know she only chooses when she’s ready. You can waste a lot of time beating your head against the wall wooing some gal who is just not there yet.

Full frontal assault is directly asking for dates. Here, you play the numbers game. I used to ask my guys, “who gets laid more often? The guy who asks one girl on a date or the guy who asks a hundred?”

Obviously, chances are the guys who asks a hundred. His odds go up the less picky he is about who he asks. My friend Harry used say, “if you’re not banging fat chicks, you’re not getting laid.” Less picky, indeed.

That’s the numbers game.

My colleagues in the coaching field give out homework to shy young males, and even older males, relying on numbers alone.

The strategy consists of standing at the bottom of an escalator in a busy mall and each time a gal comes down the stairs towards you, you say the following: “Hi I’m Frank, would you like to go for coffee?”

Maybe you get a guy to do it for five minutes the first day. What you are looking for with this exercise is refusals. We want Frank to be so used to refusals, one more won’t make a difference.

Meanwhile, we’re relying on him to refine his game. Each day, he will naturally practice saying the invitation a bit more confidently, remembering to smile each time. Repetition is the mother of learning.

At first, he’ll smile like a lecherous fool. But after a few days, once he drops all expectations and focuses on collecting his refusal number goal, he’ll settle down and be all business, increasing his time at it.

If you can keep a guy at something like this for a week or two, a couple of things happen. He develops an immunity to refusals. He can see through the “not ready types” and not take it personally.

But something else happens too. He becomes more powerful as he states who he is and what he wants. “Hi, I’m Frank, want to go for coffee?” said with a smile and no possibility of being let down or hurt is an attractive thing by itself.

But like I said, that’s only for extreme cases. But already in its telling, you can surmise the seeds of success in a man’s approach.

In fact, about men’s social skills being lacking is not a new problem and it’s not something going away. I’ll tell you why. We think differently.

That’s right, contrary to the idealogues who insist gender is a social construct, men and women think differently. The social constructionists are full of shit.

Medicines work differently on men and women. Uh-Oh! Now I’ve got their attention. Oops! Exceptions OK, if they are going to die.

The list of ways men and women think differently are too great to list here. Researcher Diane Halpern’s book, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities in one place to start, though there are thousands of studies. The Gurion Institute is another good resource.

But some basic understanding of what appeals to a gal goes a long way in avoiding embarrassment and increasing chances of success.

When a woman hits her mid-teens, she will self-assess up against her peers and rate herself accordingly. Let’s say she uses a 1-10 scale. At this point, she’s not competing for partners; she is competing against the other girls in her group.

This is something she does the rest of her life. As missus once told me, “I want other women to look at us and wish they were me; not look at us and feel sorry for me that I’m with you.” Her game is always wrapped up in her peer group.

No? Get this: have high school girls run against boys. Some girls will record their best times. Have boys run against boys. Some boys will register their best times. Have girls run against girls and what happens? Times slow down. WTF? Yup. They dog it, holding out.

I worked for decades running teams of young sales people, both male and female. The girls all demonstrated better understanding of their position in life, and attributes and detriments.

Most of them knew by age 16 what kind of husband they wanted, how many children they’d have later, and what kind of house they’d live in.

Guys? Not a clue. Not a one had plans at 16 beyond that year, if any.

The thing is, nature makes women more precious. No? Don’t believe you are the expendable sex?

Here’s why 90+% of workplace fatalities are still men, and not women, though women make up 48% of the workforce. We do different jobs. Men and women can pretty do anything each other can do outside biological differences, but they have preferences which hold, largely because of the differences in how they think.

So, it’s not going away anytime soon.

And women can safely deliver children (and it’s still risky) from about age 15 to age 35, after which each year in age brings her greater chance of things going wrong.

Men can father children into their 9th decade. In 2007, a farmer in Rajasthan fathered a healthy little girl with his 4th wife.

So, who is more precious?

Women tend to use both hemispheres when they think. They can read emotion on a man’s face better than we can. They are usually more intuitive, relying on “gut feel” more than guys. They generally have more empathy. In context, they can spot bullshit a mile away.

These are great powers indeed, but they also tend to overthink things at times. “Ont as tous les qualities de nos defauts,” the French like to say. We all have the qualities of our faults and the faults of our qualities. Women’s great powers often get the better of them. It’s also why nature designed us to be complimentary to each other.

And outside of the teen years, where physical attractiveness most counts in courtship, women tend to choose males based on their sense of power. Women need a powerful man who will leave his peer group and come and start a new tribe with her, if so ordained. She needs a man who has her back if she has children. Who can provide and protect.

But it’s more than that. Because she tends to overthink, she needs a powerful man who will stand up to her overthinking and help keep her on track. A man who will step in and say, “Woman, stop it. You’re ok, we’ve got this,” and lead her away from the brink of her own insanity.

All this is the context from within you operate as a man in asking a gal out on a date. You almost wish you could be the sap at the bottom of the escalator by now. A guy who would haplessly just ask and play the numbers, doing it long enough to perhaps get lucky. The numbers.

It’s in the results of the escalator strategy we see the best way forward emerge. As our man gained confidence, his two new mindsets served him well. One, he was immune to refusals, realizing it wasn’t about him, it was about readiness. And two, because he knew this, he was free to focus on his approach, making it better, without being married to outcome.

What he did was gain power. And power is what attracts women.

Neediness is a sure sign of weakness to her, and it must turn her off because of her pact with the universe. She has a short time to find a mate. When she finds one, her overthinking means she will question herself for the next 20 years wondering if she chose right. Knowing this, men can stand up and stay powerful for their women.

Men are attracted to women for looks, that never changes.

OK Cupid studied what people indicate as an age preference on their profile, compared to the ages of people they go and creep, to see if there was a difference.

Women of 20 prefer a man of 23.
Women of 30 prefer a man of 30 (age parity)
Women of 40 like a man a couple of years younger.
Women of 50 like a man about 4 years younger.

Men of 20 prefer a woman of 23
Men of 30 prefer a woman of 23
Men of 40 prefer a woman of 23
Men of 50 prefer a woman of 23

It never fucking changes! There’s nothing wrong with any of us; indeed, it’s how nature made men. So why stay with a woman past age 30?

For loyalty. He may be initially attracted to her for her looks, that certain hip to waist ratio, but he stays with her for loyalty.

Men are adaptable creatures. We can learn to love in almost any circumstance. And in time, a woman’s looks mean less and less, if she is loyal. That means loyalty to their sexual union as well. Damn straight.

Men cannot stand disloyalty. It’s a blow to our sense of being respected. Perhaps it’s a throwback to when tolerating disloyalty around you could mean your life. I’m not sure. But, I do know that loyalty is more important to a man in time than looks.

For a man with a loyal woman by his side, she becomes his standard. When he thinks naked, it’s she he sees. When he imagines a vagina he sees only hers, all others look askance. With a loyal woman by his side, she becomes the wind beneath his wings.

Trick is to avoid her becoming the storm which makes you crash.

But I digress.

With all this background, now you get a bigger picture from which to ask a woman out. It’s no wonder most first dates off social media dating sites involve tentative first steps, like meeting for coffee.

There you go, back to square one. You’re standing at the bottom of the escalator in a big mall, asking random strangers for coffee. Only, with social media dating sites, you’ve had a conversation first, by text or by phone, and know something of each other’s life, likes and dislikes.

The real contest is to ask in such a way as to preserve several of these elementary principles. She must feel safe. She must not be embarrassed in front of peers, yours or hers. She must have an idea of your power as a man to even consider you. And she must be ready.

One more thing. Children. Fawning too much over a niece or nephew and she’ll see right through it. But if she gets the impression you are somehow good with kids or even like kids or can tolerate children, it’s another clue and can sometimes trigger her readiness.

A man who is powerful and confident and likes children is almost like an aphrodisiac to a young woman. And what of later stage women, middle-aged gals who are past the time when they might have kids?

If they are over forty, and have a successful career, you can bet they had to assume a very masculine part of themselves to do this. It’s a man’s world they say. That’s not because we run things, or some stupid notion of patriarchy standing in her way. No. it’s just that to succeed in most careers requires competitiveness, something men score higher in than women.

But if she’s a feminine woman at her core, which 80% of women are, she will still find a powerful man attractive. If he can recognize her special skills and not be intimidated, instead, look past these for the woman underneath who craves a powerful man, you increase your odds.

She is first and foremost a sexual human being. Never forget that.

Now to the question. Use any version of this according to circumstance and your own creativity. “I’m planning to attend such and such (an event, restaurant, museum, show, movie, political rally, fair, concert, etc. etc), on such and such a date, would you like to come along?”

Another version of this is to include other people. If it’s too early—like a first date situation—she will feel safer if there are others coming along too. There’s safety in numbers. “Me and a bunch of friend…” can be intimidating or welcoming, depending on the gal and her readiness. Her confidence counts too.

You could even invite her and a friend if you thought she could use back up on her side but be careful of this. In that case, she is partially delegating her assessment of you and your life to her friend, always risky. You’d have to win over the friend as well.

But if you are inviting her to come watch you race cars and you’re the driver, you don’t want her sitting in the stands alone. That won’t work.

“I’m planning on attending…” tells her you can go alone. It’s the first layer of bread in your invitation sandwich. You don’t need her there, you’re going anyways. Either she jumps on the train and comes with you if she’s ready, or she doesn’t. You’re not outcome bound. The greatest ploy in any negotiation is to be able to walk away.

“… such and such an event…” is the safe, neutral territory. It’s something if she told a girlfriend, would make her look good.

“…would you like to come along?” is the last piece of bread in your invitation sandwich. It reinforces your independence, your power and confidence, but opens a crack in the door for her. You don’t need her but if she likes, you are willing to tolerate her ass in your life for at least a few hours while you go to this “thing” you have planned. Getting to know each other is secondary. No pressure.

What about readiness? When a woman is ready for a partner, she takes her self-assessment and looks around at the available males and chooses one she thinks she can get.

Then, she presents in front of him and smiles, catches his eye, strokes her hair, touches the throat and other parts of her body. She may allow proximity and may even touch you in return. She shows an unmistakable interest men can miss if they are not watchful.

She will laugh at your jokes and if you shut up and let her, tell you all about herself. In no time, it will feel as though you have chosen her.

It’s one of her great skills: diplomacy. The art of letting others see things your way. She’s way ahead of you. She chooses, and lets you think you chose her. Because she’s precious, and she can’t afford to make mistakes at any age, nature stacks the odds in her favour.

Because everyone likes to feel like someone’s chosen.

Stay powerful gents,

cw

©2018 ckwallace, all rights reserved

https://www.facebook.com/groups/advisortomen/

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NARROWED THINKING

The Zone of Happiness

This week as I traveled about, visiting the lives of others along the way both online and in-person, I was struck by a few things I’d like to share with you. Specifically, I want to talk about narrowing thinking and how it lies at the crux of the best of human experience.

When I think of those times in my life when I was firing on all cylinders, it’s when I’ve been able to focus at such a deep level my total being was engaged in living in the moment. It’s when the distractions of my surroundings are inconsequential to what’s before me. It’s when time seems stands still.

I’m not sure if you know what I mean, but if you think back, you’ll quickly remember a scene from your history where you were so engrossed in what you were doing that all else didn’t matter. I wonder if you realize it’s at these moments when we are at our happiest.

Let me qualify that statement.  I surely don’t mean a form of bliss where we are like Snoopy just grooving to Schroeder’s piano. Though this is sometimes a part of it, it’s by no means the template against which we should judge our affective experience in these circumstances.

What I mean by happiest is more like we are blissfully unaware of feeling at all. At least, the tyranny of emotion is lost for the moment, and we leave behind all feelings of inadequacy. Our usual level of vigilance changes, but it’s not that we let our guard down. No. It’s because something else takes over.

That something is a feeling of almost limitless power, or better, power being expressed at the limits of our abilities. This is when we hit a zone, or our zone, and whether we hit it accidentally or on purpose doesn’t matter. What counts here is a condition which lies at the pinnacle of human expression. It’s as if we know it’s where we belong, a place where good things, sometimes great things, happen.

It’s a serious manifestation of our gifts coming together all at once, without being aware of limits or constraints which might cast doubt upon our competence. It’s more than confidence because it’s a blend of the mental and the physical, a symbiosis, the meaningful whole of an action. It’s the Gestalt.

Practice, Focus and the Impossible

The quick and easy way to hit zones is to practice over and over so new competence is ingrained in the cerebellum, like never forgetting to ride a bike once learned. Being able to shut out distractions is next, narrowing down focus to what is before you, so time is lived second by second, or not noticed at all.

When the first two conditions are met, the longer you linger there, the more chance you have of hitting the heretofore impossible. That’s when you stretch, using your powers of concentration and emotional equilibrium to push the boundaries of your skills. It’s a time when we truly get out of our own way, allowing whatever talent we have to sing fully, to express itself at its peak and beyond.

I’d sometimes get like this after a few years of shooting snooker. In my best games, I wouldn’t even notice my surroundings except for how they were needed to play the game. It didn’t matter who was watching, or what my opponent did. My eyes were on the green table cloth and the balls. My whole body and mind was an extension of the cue and cue ball and I could make that ball do my bidding without regard to limits. I’d control the game in a way far above my normal play.

I say the zone is also when we feel most alive. The connection between our existence and the world around us blends seamlessly, acting as one, without boundaries and without fear or need to explain. We are poetry in motion. We are the poet.

It’s as if we are nodding to the Universe, acknowledging its wisdom in choosing us, in bestowing a chance at life to this very being. It’s when we are fulfilling our promise, the pact we have with life itself.

Cheating the Zone

Sadly, I don’t think we get enough of it. And the peace and power derived from visiting our zone has such appeal that we often try to recreate its essence in other ways. Unfortunately, these are often maladaptive, poor substitutes for the real thing causing more harm than good. What lies at the heart of these coping mechanisms is the desire to narrow thinking, to thin out the complexities of life and simplify what occupies the mind.

Drink a few beers or haul on a joint and watch your thinking narrow accordingly. You’re in some kind of zone alright, but it’s not a celebration of your personal power. It’s a artificial hijacking of your sympathetic system, putting your physiology into a fear state to narrow your focus to escape danger. Whereas the real zone slows your heartbeat and focuses your power, this effect increases the heartrate and scatters your competence.

And it works—soon all your thinking of is pizza, or pussy, or fighting. Or you have slowed your body down, frozen, like a deer standing on the road staring at headlights. Or the rabbit you see on the neighbours lawn, immobilized, heart beating as fast as a snare drum, hoping it blends in.

For some, TV, food, porn, gambling, cigarettes, shopping all have the same capacity to narrow focus artificially, from an external view but without engaging the internal power and talent which exists in all of us. The suicidal try to do the same thing, narrowing their thinking down so effectively to escape the pain of life until, tragically, their options run out.

External vs Internal

The eyes see out, I like to say. So much of what we do is triggered by what the eyes can take in. Like all of our gifts, sometimes our qualities can become faults. Too often we see and respond without considering what we really seek. We all need to narrow our focus, to feel alive and celebrate our gifts in the moment. Too often we seek to do this by taking a pill of some kind, by relying on the environmental, the external solution to what really can only be solved internally.

You might expect I’ll speak now of finding more adaptive ways of narrowing thinking, of recognizing it’s draw as a fundamental expression, and encouraging you to make better choices. But here’s what I was taken with this week:

Turns out we don’t need 10,000 hours to become competent at something. See, the way I just wrote that represents the impression I took from reading Malcolm Gladwell’s famous missive about learning a new skill. It’s my own nonsense and represents the way I, along with most people I know, have misinterpreted the commitment he writes about. He’s talking about elite level mastery, world class level competence.

Old Dogs, New Tricks

In a TedX talk I watched this week, Josh Kaufman talks about researching Gladwell’s misunderstood recommendation and finding it takes around 20 hours to learn a new skill adequately. Of course, I thought when I watched him, I’ve learned plenty of things in less than 10,000 hours! Kaufman breaks it down further, suggesting just 45 minutes a day for about a month will do the trick. This is a refreshing antidote to the Gladwellian notion that it takes 5 years of hard slogging to achieve respectable competence at something.

I have 20 hours. 10,000? Not so much.

In just under an hour per day for a month, you could learn a reasonable amount about something or get good enough at something to then decide if you wanted to learn more! Piano enough to play Fur Elise, a language well enough to visit a foreign country, how to weld so you can make… anything. It just goes on.

Well, there are twelve months in a year, and how many in a lifetime? If average lifespan is 80 and we take just 50 of those years as potential months of learning, that’s 600 months of opportunity. Or 600 new skills we could potentially get good enough at in our lifetime.

Oh my, where have all my excuses gone now?

I was thinking about this when one of the guys in my men’s group told us a family friend killed himself on Tuesday. Booze was a big contributing factor. These are always tragic. People will say the suicidal was selfishly passing their pain on to the living. It’s possible. Though suicidal people who have lived through attempts tell us they thought they were doing everyone a favour. There are no good answers.

Fear Works: Just Not Well

Every day I run into folks who are affected by this scourge—attempting to narrow thinking by taking short cuts—using drugs and alcohol to kickstart adrenaline and cortisol in their system, not realizing that this IS their addiction. It’s not so much the booze or drugs, it’s these fear hormones which create an emotional state providing relief from the complexity of their existence.  While in fear, your focus is on survival, a much simpler scope, aimed at satisfying much baser needs.

And food and porn and gambling all do the same thing to a degree, using intermittent reinforcement to distract and narrow focus, attempting to gain a reward by way of a shortcut. Our eyes see out. But it’s here where the maladaptive breaks down: it’s like a dog chasing its tail. We never quite catch up.

And we don’t grow. Confidence wanes further for there is no competence in these.

There are no new skills to be found in that box of donuts, the next six pack of booze, the next shopping spree at the mall or the hardware store, the next pack of smokes or cannabis dispensary. You could argue there are skills to learn from the next porn clip you watch but that really depends how long you’ve been watching, doesn’t it?

The Search

What if we all realized this is what we were trying to do: narrow thinking. It’s our natural way of shutting out all the noise. Done right, it’s escapism with benefits. And it represents the only true way of meeting the need to live fully engrossed in the moment.

All sorts of things are like this. Watch any teenager who has mastered a video game at a high level. They get into a zone and if there wasn’t a clock on the screen and levels, they’d make time stand still. Look at their eyes, and they never leave the monitor. A friend of mine use to fly fish with such concentration that rather than go ashore to take a piss, he’d let it go in his neoprene waders and rinse them out later.

Neither of these extremes will kill you. Some of the other ways we narrow thinking can and will.  Yesterday I came home from a rather challenging week. Though I’m grateful to find myself alive every morning, I’m no more inured to the pain of life than anyone else.

Rather than go blow my mind with dope or booze, I instead sought ways to just calm myself and heal. Oh, I know there’s still pot kicking around here somewhere. And the beer store is a few blocks away. Heck, I could swallow a few Percocet, bumping up my occasional quarter tablet dosage to two or three full tabs and I’d be nodding in no time.

And these would have left me hung over this morning, feeling dissonance for having compromised my pact with nature, knowing I was ungrateful for the life I have been lucky enough to win. These would have eroded my confidence, which in turn, would affect my competence. This is the truth.

And that’s what meditation is for. No wonder it’s so popular. Even if you’re not a meditator, a walk will narrow thinking just as well. Perhaps I’m at an advantage because I have a slew of cognitive behavioural strategies I can implement to narrow my thinking. Well, these have come with practice. I also slept very well last night. I had to practice that too.

Come to think of it, I had to learn to drink in a dysfunctional way too. In fact, I worked hard at it over time, just as I did with the rest of it, from dope smoking to heroin use. Geez, it took me years just to learn how to roll a joint. Cocaine definitely took some getting used to—fed my paranoia. I puked my guts out first time I did heroin.  All of these things took concentration and trial and error before I could successfully use them to… narrow focus. When measured up against all these, it’s actually easier to learn to narrow thinking internally, by far.

So try to think of those times when you entered into a zone of competence, and remember how good that felt.

These days, when things get to me and I feel like I need a break, knowing the secret, the real impetus of my condition, that what really begs my attention is just to narrow my focus, I have other choices.

And in a month, looks like I might just have one more.

You could too.

CHRISTOPHER K. WALLACE

Advisor to Men, Counsellor at Large
at ckwallace.com

©2018, all rights reserved

Kaufman’s TedX talk:

 

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5 Love Languages Part Three

Something like 70-80% of divorces are initiated by the woman. Google why women divorce and these articles will show up.

– The Good Men Project article lists infidelity, boredom, fantasizing about others, wanting equality of work, and women’s expectations for more as main reasons.

– A collective Huffpost therapists piece lists being taken for granted; having the same argument over and over; not being satisfied with their sex life; not enough talking and connecting emotionally; and having outgrown their partner and seeing divorce as the only way of putting themselves first again.

– Divorcesource.com says it’s often about losing connection when the kids are grown; a realization that life is finite and slipping by, especially in middle age where caring for elderly parents brings new stresses that often test a couple’s coping skills.

Just summarizing this sampling tells us something of what might be going on. Connection is our greatest need. For most men, it’s enough to be respected let alone be loved.  Love’s meaning is different things to different people.

And it is here where 5LL and its ilk are wholly inadequate. For it’s not about love at all. Leave love to the poets I say, the secret to good marriages has more to do with lust.

 

Listen to me here: everyone wants to be someone’s chosen. And in most cases, it is women who do the choosing and orchestrate things so you end up pursuing her.

Nature affords preciousness to women not accorded to men. She has twenty of years of reasonably safe fertility; you have twice that or more. There’s a 90 year old farmer in Rajasthan who fathered a little girl in 2007 at age 90.

And yet, it is you she chose, for your power and your ability to conquer her soul. And for this, she has given herself completely to you, revealing bits of her mystery in the process.

Just because she has children, and perhaps a job and other responsibilities, does not diminish, in the least, who she is as a sexual being. Of all the men she could have chosen, you were it. It was your power as a man which gave you access to her body and mind, to her inner world.

This is what captivated you, captivated you both in each, your power and her mystery. This must always be honoured.

Each time I take my woman sexually, the clock resets to zero. The pursuit then starts all over again: the teasing, the flirting, the complimenting and the rest of the way we play the game between us. I date her for the first time again and again.

Though we realize we’ll give in to each other in time, it is never taken for granted. I must earn her once more; just the same way I did when we first dated. That is a truer basis for the pair-bond cycle and one which all men should keep in mind.

She is your Queen.

Missus and I did the 5LL test. What we found was most of the questions were things we already did. On any given day I could have answered differently to the 30 questions. She said the same thing.

Sometimes, I could use a pat on the back, other times a little help with a chore. Whatever. No one needs to tell us we need to encourage each other, help each other out, hold and hug and love each other physically or spend time together. So many questions she said she wanted to answer “both” but had to choose one.

She went Quality Time 10; Physical Touch 8; Words of Affirmation 7; Acts of Service 5; Receiving Gifts 0.

I went Acts of Service 9; Physical Touch 9; Words of Affirmation 8; Quality Time 5; Receiving Gifts 0.

Looks like today I needed to spend time with her, say nice things and touch her. She sure liked it when I accompanied her to the phone store to upgrade her I-phone this morning, entertaining the kids in the truck for an hour while she took care of her business.

When she finally finished she was pretty impressed I had gotten her a coffee at the McDonalds while we waited. Does that count as a gift according to Chapman? I suppose it’s at least partly the little things, you see.

We might take the test in a month and get new results, but following the usual, significance for men, emotions for women, generality. Obvious to me perhaps but I concede not to everyone.

As it was, my little girl has stomach flu and has been vomiting all day. It was a bit of an “all hands on deck” time as we both attended to our sick child, her taking the lead. As the baby whisperer, I backed her up and put our four year old boy to bed.

The other implication of 5LL is that you can’t figure out how to treat your lady well on your own. That you are so clueless something as basic as encouragement, hanging out together, helping each other and remembering to get her a coffee is beyond you.

In my opinion, it’s a bit of a red herring. The real issue is to treat that woman of yours like you did when you first met and leave 5LL as a cute Facebook post without discounting it altogether.

Better still, remember Gottman’s 7 principles and dream together. Often.

Maybe you have children or are planning to, or maybe you don’t. Each other’s investment in rearing offspring will factor in your attraction to each other. I know I based my acquiescence to missus at least a little bit on how she spoke about her own upbringing.

Above all, remember your relationship or family is a consequence of your personal power as a man. It’s what gets you access to her mystery.

Stay powerful, she needed this from you then and needs this from you now.

The secret to relationships is to put lust first.

Do that and love will take care of itself.

Christopher K Wallace

© 2017 all rights reserved
ckwallace.com

If you have any  questions or would like to work with me, you can find information under advisement options on the main page. Thank for reading along.

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5 Love Languages Part Two


According to attachment theory proponent and developer of Emotions Focused Therapy, Professor Sue Johnson from Ottawa University, there are two main inquiries we need answered in a relationship. Are you there? Are you with me? These both must be answered affirmatively.

To me, the first question speaks to the feminine need for presence, listening, and being there fully for your partner. The second question is perhaps more masculine, referring to being on the same team, and having each other’s back.

Answer these two questions in the positive and you’ve got a good basis for a love that will last.

I think most women are irresistibly attracted to men of power. Your status in your woman’s eyes is a key marker of her happiness in the relationship. Less important is how your power manifests itself, whether you are the boss, well-off financially, intelligent enough to show potential, physically strong or even the bad-ass type. Power signals to a woman certainty. If she needs it, you’ll be able to provide, protect etc.

Men are attracted to women for looks first, and stay with her out of loyalty. Part of that loyalty involves how well she’ll mother his children if that’s in the cards.  If she’s loyal, she becomes his standard. When he thinks naked, he sees only her.

It is a testament to his adaptability that a man can learn to love almost anyone when the conditions are right. Furthermore, a man with a loyal woman by his side will defend her to the death.

I think this fits Johnson’s two queries. She needs his presence and power; he needs her looks and loyalty, and there is some of each of it in both.

In my decades of observing couples and living my own relationships, I note there’s something of a well-honed bullshit detector in most women. After all women are generally more empathetic and better at reading emotions on a man’s face. If a woman senses a man is being weak for no good reason, she will either rub salt in the open wounds of his weakness or hold him in silent contempt.

At this point, sex is pretty much out. Sound familiar?

Over two-thirds of conflict in a marriage is “perpetual” according to John Gottman. He’s the guy who can watch a couple talk for 15 minutes and predict with over 90% accuracy if they will break up within five years. The rest of conflict, “resolvable” stuff, is challenging but small change comparatively… so savour those communication victories for the sweetness they are.

In his book, After the Honeymoon, psychologist Dan Wile says you are inevitably choosing a set of unsolvable problems for the next decades when you choose your partner. The problems you choose are the ones you can cope with.

So how do you survive this dead-end? You live, you learn, and most of all, you laugh about it.

I like to put stuff back where I find it, or keep things in predictable places. Saves time and makes me more efficient. I don’t want to spend my life relearning when I do regular things.

Keeping our stuff in the same places is less important to the missus. Not a priority. It’s sometimes like a treasure hunt to find stuff in the house. While mildly annoying at best, a bit frustrating at other times, it’s not a deal breaker.

I chuckle at her, wondering what she was thinking when she tucked my stuff away to the point where I think I’ve lost it for good. When I find it again, it’s like a reunion. Over the 12 years I’ve been with her, she’s gotten better. Just like I’ve gotten better with money under her influence, though still working on it.

No complaints here, I don’t want to jinx the progress.

Want to read a good book about how to make marriages work? I recommend The Seven Principles by the aforementioned Gottman. When approaching a solvable problem, follow these steps (my notes added):

  1. Start-up soft rather than harsh. (How many times does flying off the handle not work for us to learn not to do it?).
  2. Learn to use repair attempts. (Take a shot at a solution as soon as possible. Then, listen more carefully and try again).
  3. Monitor your body for how tense you’re becoming. (Emotion is predictive, not reactive, and from interoception, experience derived concepts and social reality).
  4. Learn to compromise (make a deal; you can make those right? Give a bit; get a bit; look for the win-win).
  5. Tolerate each other’s imperfections (they become endearing after a time. Who wants to live with a carbon copy of themselves?)

Gottman contends it’s a myth you have to resolve all your marital conflicts to survive and thrive in your marriage. The key is to be constantly working things out good-naturedly.

The other big key is to dream together. Pillow talk might be a bit cliché but a version of it is essential in all marriages. In fact, Gottman’s principle number 1 is the idea of a love map.  Nothing beats dreaming together for big picture peace.

He follows it with 2. Nurture fondness and admiration; 3. Turn toward each other rather than away; 4. Let your partner influence you; 5. Solve solvable problems; 6. Overcome gridlock; and 7. Create shared meaning.

This bit about turning towards each other is a good point, also fitting Sue Johnson’s and her Emotions Focused Therapy briefly mentioned above. For example, rather than a guy getting freaked out about his gal’s relationships at work, it might be better to stand in front of her, gently touch her shoulders with both hands, look her in the eye with a slight smile and tell her you don’t want to lose her.

Turning towards each other sort of fits Chapman’s Love Languages. Knowing what missus appreciates just as she knows what I like can help make a relationship sail along more smoothly. That alone is not enough.

How do you overcome gridlock, those times when you’re both going nowhere on an issue? Gottman says you must be willing to explore hidden, root cause stuff.

It’s by uncovering and sharing the significant personal dreams you have for your life, as these unrequited dreams are most often at the core of what makes people stuck. He goes further to say endless argument is symbolic of some deeper difference crying out for attention before you can move on together.

So talk about your dreams, your aspirations together over a longer timeline.

Knowing this is such a precious gift.

Christopher K Wallace
©2017 all rights
ckwallace.com

5LL part three coming up. You’ll want to stick around for this.

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5 Love Languages   Part One.

5 Love Languages? Give me a break.

I ask you: what kind of unfounded sorcery is this preoccupation with love languages?

It seems wherever I turn of late, in whatever forum, as soon as relationships come up someone asks the question: “what’s her love language?”

My, my, how far we men have fallen in just one generation.

Why in the hell would I want to know my wife’s love language? Does such a thing exist?  I have no intention of anticipating her every whim and desire trying to tailor my approach so that I become her best girlfriend in the process.  I know that’s an impossible dream. Wrong guy.

First out in 1995, Chapman’s book was rightly ignored for almost a decade and a half and did not take off until 2009. I’m not sure why… it took off at all. Oprah?

Only now, in addition to the original work, he’s also got versions for men, for singles, for teenagers, and for children, along with a 5 love languages book summary and a 30 day minute devotional. It may be out of control.

And all that’s in addition to another half dozen relationship books with his name on them. I’m pretty sure they’ll be an improvement. He’s an enterprising sort our Mr. Chapman, a marketing genius.

The author contends if only you knew your spouse or partner’s “preferred” approaches, magic between you will surely ensue. Fill her “Love Tank” by doing essentially what you do anyway, common expressions of devotion and appreciation for each other, only now named languages of love.

 

A kindly but fully indoctrinated soul on a post recently explained how he’s distilled Chapman’s game into the acronym CHAAP, with each letter corresponding to a 5LL equivalent , as in:

Compliments: 5LL Words of Affirmation

Help: 5LL Acts of Service

Attention: 5LL Quality Time

Affection: 5LL Physical Touch

Presents: 5LL Receiving Gifts

Is there research to back any of his claims up? Not much. The name is suspicious. (“You bought me a car? Now you’re talking my language, honey!!!”) Huh?

I suppose the good news is if your gal is the Receiving Gifts type, you can decide on the spot if that’s going to work for you longer term. (“I thought you wanted presence not presents, dammit!”) Everyone likes a gift, no exceptions. Duh..

Moreover, how many kids have a Love Language that includes Receiving Gifts I wonder? Isn’t that how Santa was created? Isn’t trading and receiving goods an imbedded trait in a culture dependent on each other for survival?

I think the idea of relying on 5 Love Languages as anything but a novelty pop quiz is weak. It’s the same kind of silly exercise we see on Facebook walls all the time. My friends and I find these amusing for the parts of them that are slightly true.

For example, only recently, I found out my dog personality in just a few moments of analysis: “You know about your loved ones’ needs very well and attack anyone who hurts them. The only way to get away from your power and strength is to never cross you. You’re as loving and as deadly as a Rottweiler.”

(Appeals to my protective instinct as a father and over-exaggerates the rest of it but I’ll take it on a slow Internet day).

Then I found out I was 31% undate-able, and 69% date-able. (Don’t remind my missus of what she already knows).

Oh, and I have an asshole quote: “I’m not an asshole. I am actually one of the nicest people you will ever meet. You’re just pissed because I can see through your bullshit.”

(I help people see through their stories and rarely piss people off doing it).

I’d put Chapman’s theoretical foundation on love languages in about the same category as these: cute, entertaining, and perhaps helpful to a degree, but casting a wide net with limited foundation.

Seems to me Chapman is taking obvious heuristic and repackaging it as if it’s the Shangri la of relationships, an ultimate panacea for what ails marriages, men, teens, and children.

And, well, everyone else too by the time he’s done. My advice is to skip the books and take the online test one time. That will tell you all you ever need to know.

I figure it’s only a matter of time before pictures start appearing of gullible souls flashing bookshelves with Chapman’s Complete Collection, all nicely arrayed by order of importance (or half read).

Anyone who studies these things knows an approach like the 5 LL is at best a way of getting people talking, and, at worst, a stretch into balderdash.

Should you try and be more sensitive to your partner’s needs? Duh. Does that need an answer? Should we try to understand each other in general? Again, stupid question. In what some call the age of empathy, this is yet another example of empathy run amok.

And that’s the problem with empathy in general. In a recent book, Yale University professor Paul Bloom cautions us by saying “if you are absorbed in the suffering of others, you’re less able to help them because achieving goals often requires inflicting short-term pain.”

Better to have something like compassion, or a version of cognitive empathy. That is, as Bloom continues, the “capacity to understand what’s going on in other people’s head, to know what makes them tick, what gives them joy and pain, what they see as humiliating or ennobling.”

Right about now you might be thinking, “Aha! That’s exactly what 5LL does!” Well, yes and no.

It’s just that 5LL is like the Myers-Briggs test given out all over corporate America: replication is weak and unreliable.

One day you’re an ESFI and a month later you’re an MBTI. In the same way, people’s life contexts change, and circumstances and maturity over time mean trivial preferences like those found in 5LL no longer hold up. They are a lousy way to go about things except on a very short term basis.

Relationships, and especially the differences between men and women, are challenging enough without imposing a “here-today, gone-tomorrow” rule of preferences, set like a trap to go off when you least expect it. What guy needs that aggravation? (“But I thought you liked chocolates sweetie? I’m on a diet asshole!”)

As human beings we are categorizers and meaning-makers. 5LL is a lot like following the Horoscopes: a little obvious bullshit for everyone.

Stay tuned. In 5LL parts two and three, I’ll speak to what really works in a relationship.

Christopher K Wallace
©2017 ckwallace.com all rights reserved

Need help with this stuff? You can reach me at ckwallace.com under advisement options

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WHO IS SHANE CHAFE?

 

Where have all the real men gone? That’s a question that comes up often lately.

Not just from women. No. I worked hedging farm energy costs all last winter and met a lot of real men. Tough and grizzled career dairy farmers who knew precisely their role lamenting the same thing: where are all the “real men?”

Out east of Ottawa, all the way to the Quebec border the French farmers call our feminized men “les hommes rose.” Pink Men.

I get this query about good men from women practically every day. Just last week I did business with a formidable lady at an iconic city establishment. A divorcee, we got to talking: she’d be a catch, a real tour de force. “I’m not giving up” she says. “There’s a real man out there for me.”

And there is. I’ll keep my eye out for her.

It’s a confusing time to be male. First we went from an agrarian society to an industrialized one. Then the vote was expanded so all men got a say in how government is run. Reward for the privilege of dying for your people I suppose, which men have been doing forever.

After the Second World War, women’s enrollment in universities rose each year, to where there are now more female graduates than male. Laws were rightfully changed so that inequalities in the workplace were addressed.

Only now, it’s gone bananas. Men can’t open their mouths without risking offending someone and being sent off to sensitivity training. Or worse….

Men have been stifled like no other time in history. The very culture men created has turned on them and is now biting them in the ass.

Qualities in men revered for all time are obscured by a system devouring itself from within. It’s counterproductive.

Where are the Brave? The Courageous? The Decisive? The Protectors?

I’ll tell you where they are: hidden among us. Perhaps a little subdued of late, but every once in a while a crisis occurs and some exceptional man reminds us of the ideal.

Today missus was returning from a shopping excursion with two kids strapped into car seats in the second bench of our Honda Pilot. Behind the passenger seat sat our little girl Charlotte, behind missus was our boy Howie. All children are little miracles but in Howie’s case, maybe a little more so.

Having spent his first six months at Sick Kids, he’s been in and out since. He’s doing better now. If scrambled eggs, mashed squash, pieces of pork fat and the odd cheese and skinned apple are considered, then half his diet is solid foods.

My father had five sons. He had no namesake among his grandchildren until that little boy came along. I tease dad it’s because he was a drinker as a young man and it’s taken this long to forgive him. Dad can take a joke; he’s been a teetotaler for over a half century.

I know the Kurdish will name a child after a relation but only once deceased. However, while flirting with our family’s genealogy, I discovered it’s a Catholic tradition to name a son after his grandfather. I chose to honour my father.

Now aged eighty-eight, dad loves that little boy.

Mother Nature makes more boys than girls outside of times of famine for good reason. Boys die in childhood at a far greater rate. If they survive birth, the risk of death by misadventure or accident is a sad corollary to a boy’s existence.

When my first son reached age 25, I breathed a big sigh of relief.

In addition to Howie’s medical challenges, at one time he’s also been surrounded by a dozen specialists at a hospital trying to dislodge something he swallowed. His throat is very narrow, about as wide as a good sized pen. Not much room for choking mistakes.

He’s fallen off a swing and moved his bottom front teeth back. Another time he actually got stuck in a toilet toddler seat, bent in two, wedged in tighter and tighter as time went by, and had to be rescued by fireman.

 

Of course, I wasn’t there at the time. The pictures tell the story.

As a man, I realize I cannot be around all the time. There are long days when I’m away from my wife and kids working where they must fend for themselves. All I can do is provide for them as best as I can, making sure they are safe when I’m at home, holding them close to my heart when I am near.

But today we almost lost him. While his mom kept her eyes on the road travelling at speed down the highway, the boy grabbed the unused seat belt from the middle spot, twirled it around and around somehow until the full length of it was unfurled from its spring-loaded mechanism. Then placed it over his head.

It locked down tight. The more he moved, the tighter it became. There was no slack with which to back it off. It wasn’t a matter of unwinding it from his head because he’d twisted it over and over first, the way you tighten a tourniquet, and then inexplicably put it over his head while his mother drove down the road.

His thin neck and airway were encircled, being crushed as if in the grip of a snake.

Luckily, just as his big sister Charlotte alerted her mother, missus glanced in the mirror and immediately noticed his colour.  In her horror, she barely registered her daughter’s words for what she saw struck her like a bolt of cold fear.

Her boy was gray, on his way to blue. She saw the belt wrapped around his neck.

At three, whimpering sounds emanating from his mouth, he couldn’t countenance the gravity of his predicament.

 

Missus pulls over and springs into action. Yet, for all her efforts, she can’t get that belt off him. It won’t back off because it’s fully extended. By some unlucky fluke, he’s wound it around his neck in just such a way his every movement or any attempt to loosen it only made it tighten.

The belt had turned into a python refusing to relinquish its prey.

Mel knew the only way out was to cut the strap. She searched frantically for scissors or something in her console. Finally, with the boy fading, in a panic she jumped from the car and attempted to wave down passing cars.

The first ones going by waved back.

Just then she realized 911 help would never arrive in time; moreover, she was overwhelmed with crushing defeat considering that little Howie could come to this: a self-imposed death choke on the side of the road.

She was trapped helplessly trying to hold off some of the pressure from the kid’s neck, unable to release for an instant to call for help, a situation made worse because her phone was out of reach in the front seat.

 

However, someone had spotted her wild gesticulations from way down the road.

A lone driver pulled in behind her.

A young soldier in combats emerged from his vehicle.

And like all young men who live their lives ready for action, he came prepared.

One look at the boy and a tug on the belt to assess the severity of the locking choke and out came his weapon: a hunting knife used to “cut up tires at work.”

A couple of efficient slashes at the belt and the tightened noose released its fatal grip on little Howie’s neck.

The frightened toddler returned to his distraught mother’s arms.

Of course, she was a mess by this time.

Contemplating the death of her child, one she’d nursed and kept from the grave for nigh on four years,  a veritable soldier for motherhood herself, the next few minutes passed in a blur. She’s unsure if she even blubbered inadequate thanks to the mystery man.

She took some time to compose herself while sitting in her driver’s seat, no doubt glancing behind her to look at her children for reassurance.

When she finally dried her tears to see well enough to drive, pulling away she noticed the rescuer had stayed there too. He waited patiently in his car parked behind her as she gathered herself, as if still on duty, gallantly ensuring he was the last to leave the scene.

She hadn’t even asked him his name.

Well I found out his name is Shane Chafe. A heavy duty equipment mechanic from Newfoundland newly posted to Ottawa in service of our nation at National Defence Headquarters.

My mother was born in St John’s, Newfoundland.

The island’s history and culture have been part of our clan’s fondest remembrances of her. She had 10 pregnancies in 12 years, bearing nine healthy children. Her entire lifetime was spent singly devoted to her family.

She knew our little boy before she passed away a couple of years ago. It was at home, surrounded by all her adult children and husband of sixty-two years. She had supported us in so many ways in Howie’s first few months of life, seeing him through his roughest patch.

Unfaltering throughout her life in the practice of her Catholic faith, my mother sent us an angel today.

Not a pink cherub with a glorious set of wings floating on a cloud looking sweet and pure and full of God’s grace. No.

She sent us a man.

Charlotte calls him a warrior. “Daddy a warrior came and rescued Howie” she told me excitedly from the upstairs window of our house almost as soon as I pulled into the driveway this evening.

It’s not often that one gets the opportunity to thank someone for saving your boy’s life. I’ve had to do it before. There is no limit to the depth of gratitude I feel for this young man and his exemplary actions.

What are the chances the universe would put this exact person with these skills in this place at this critical time of need? This was divine intervention if there ever was such a thing.

While others drove on by, sedated, unaware of the life and death drama at hand, this man acted like men do.

He had the courage to stop, to bravely assess the situation while panic ruled, and then acted decisively to protect this little boy’s life.

And his words to me later?

“I’m just glad the boy’s fine and it worked out,” he said. “I’d want someone to stop for my gal if she was in trouble and I wasn’t around.”

You betcha soldier.

Mr. Shane Chafe good sir, I owe you one.  You deserve a medal.

You’re this family’s hero and we’d like everyone to know it.

Corporal Shane Chafe: Hero

© CKWallace 2017

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Apology’s Gift

 

They say to forgive others, if not for them for you. This is so you won’t have to bear resentment into the future. The secondary benefit of letting someone off the hook is just a bonus. It’s higher-self stuff.

Whatever anger or frustration or disappointment a situation causes, failing to get past it maintains those feelings indefinitely. There they lurk in the shadows of our minds, influencing us in ways we cannot tell. It’s hard to measure the effect your lack of forgiveness has on others; its effect on you is assured.

We are born with a sense of justice; however, it is imprecise and fallible, having been personalized as we live. My sense of justice and yours might be significantly different, though we probably embrace morality themes somewhat similarly.

Under threat we look around for allies. If we find none, our defense systems will dump cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. Eventually, if the menace is unresolved, we may collapse into powerlessness.

When our sense of justice is transgressed, it is natural to use anger as a punisher to correct things. Anger will raise your shoulders, bring your facial muscles taut, tighten the spine and abdominals and leave you in an elevated state of readiness.

Powerlessness is a cousin of depression. Hopelessness is its permanent form.

Fritz Perls of Gestalt fame asked why carry around a gunny-sack of anger? If you allow it in general, he said, soon your sack will become heavy and unwieldly.

Anger takes a toll on your beliefs, your body and your happiness; meanwhile, your list of perpetrators may feel nothing. Or at least, nothing you can be sure of.

It’s too easy to trap ourselves into a never ending loop of unfinished business.

I have not yet encountered a situation for which forgiveness did not help or was unwarranted. I have seen plenty of harm in my days. I have sinned and been sinned against.

A time may arrive when I will not be able to forgive. Intentional harm of my loved ones would be a hard one to shake. For all concerned, I hope it never happens.

There is great relief to be had in forgiveness. It can feel like a 180 degree turn, from anger to resolution in one key decision.

The body, once tense, relaxes; the mind, once pre-occupied, is freed; the knots in the belly dissipate; fear is replaced by courage; where there was darkness now shines with the light of love.

 

But what if you are not called to forgive but instead, to seek forgiveness?

What if you are willing to prostrate yourself on the altar of truth and admit your wrongdoing? Abandoning an untenable position—and its thoughts and feelings—is itself a great relief.

They say Canadians apologize as a matter of course, as a matter of pride even. I’m not sure if this is truly our culture. If it encourages people to apologize more, I’m all for it. Count me in.

I resisted for a long time how much to apologize and when. Now, if there’s a possibility of my being in some kind of error, I say sorry, albeit, maybe imperfectly.

Apologies are like insurance you take out on friendships: from little ones oft said to big ones where we were really out of sync, contrition is a key skill.

It’s free to be nice, I like to say. It’s also free to apologize: freeing for us both.

Letting an opportunity to apologize pass you by can be tragic. Tragic I say.

Then it is not so much anger that uses up your energy, rather regret.

 

Who are these people who profess to live life without regret?

Is it wishful thinking or I am I doing it all wrong? (which is quite possible). I don’t regret waking up in the morning, each day is an opportunity to learn and serve.

But regrets? I’ve had a few. So goes the song.

How could I not? I have some lasting most of my lifetime. Too numerous to list here, I’ll save you the tediousness of my confession. Undoubtedly, you have your own to consider, or try and forget.

AA’s Big Book has been around a while. I have an old beat up copy gained when I attended Spofford Hall in New Hampshire in the 1980s for heroin and cocaine addiction. Its pages are filled with handwritten encouragement from my fellow travelers. Reading it now, I realize they saw in me potential when I saw little in myself.

I’m not an AA member and don’t attend meetings. I may never drink again because I realize I don’t drink socially in any regular way. I may drink tomorrow. The inclination to over-drink is instilled in me deeply, like never forgetting how to ride a bicycle.

Say what you like about the “program,” as it is known. It has helped a lot of people turn from a spiral of self-destruction to leading fulfilling lives.

Its message is straightforward: give up booze, face the facts about yourself, ask for help, make amends to those you have harmed, admit when wrong and repeat as necessary, and serve others as a path to spiritual enlightenment.

Steps numbers 8 and 9 are key endeavours: 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Long before Gestalt Therapy and the popularized version of unfinished business, Dr. Bob, Bill W. and cohorts realized how critical addressing old stuff we carry around was, as a building block to effective living.

 

I think attachment is our greatest psychological need. Our emotions are set carefully in youth by the quality of our connection to others. As we age, patterns from those early years can really screw things up.

And if not right away, maturity and personal growth can eventually sober one’s perspectives. Sometimes that means living with more than a little regret.

The idea of reaching out to someone and taking responsibility without expectations is a powerful way to empower your sense of self. As simple as saying, “I realize I was wrong, you were good to me and I fucked it up. Sorry. ”

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible. People move away, we lose touch, they die. Even if alive, they may not be interested in opening old wounds.

It’s good to remember that we forgive first for ourselves.

In the same way, making amends is done to clear our own side of the street first. Should it benefit someone else, great. That’s ideal. But it’s not always necessary, nor is it possible or even likely.

Successfully forgiving yourself cannot be predicated on the acceptance of another. That’s too shaky a ground upon which to build your new construct. But keeping this idea of redressing past wrongs as a guiding principle, every once in a while it’ll pay off.

 

I moved back to Ottawa last year to be near my ailing father. Of course, I can barely drive down a street in most of the old city without being triggered in one way or another. Circumstances and faces impose themselves on my mind, often like mini-episodes played at high speed as I drive by.

I found an old business partner of mine from the early 80s through LinkedIn. We met for lunch. I apologized. All he said was “don’t worry about it; we were all fucked up back then.”

That’s it? Damn it, I carried that guilt for 35 years for fuck’s sake.

Now I see him weekly, went up to his cottage with my kids. Or I meet him and his grand kids either here at my farm or at one of those indoor playgrounds.

I’m privileged to advise him on business, a modern version of something we were working on way back. He closed me on that one by saying, “Isn’t it about time you came back and finished what you started?” He had me there.

 

As a teenager, at one point I lived collectively with others at 165 Laval Street in Vanier. It was a drop-in for many a runaway in the North-East end of the city. We sold hashish and other recreational drugs while attending every rock concert available. There I met a beautiful young gal who became a good friend. Through her, I met her brother.

Pat was a few years older than me and he became a stand-in for my own brothers. I did a lot of that back then, recreating my family of origin, sometimes with consequences I hadn’t thought of. Pat was good to me.  And we partied like rock stars, though, unlike me, he kept a job and even had a car.

At one point, I was torn between two groups of friends, allegiance to Pat and his sister on one side, to my current peer group on another. Something went down and I was forced into a quandary. I hadn’t the finesse to negotiate the divide. We lost touch and never addressed things between us. It wasn’t even my fight.

For over 40 years I have carried the regret of having chosen wrong. It has eaten at me a bit, knowing I was weak when I should have been strong.

It’s one thing to live this way, despising the self at some level, and being able to escape identity by drinking and drugging yourself regularly into oblivion. When this option is removed by choice, what remains is wistful regret.

Pat’s a pretty masculine guy as I remembered him. I held out little hope of ever contacting him through social media. In the ten years I’ve been on Facebook, I have searched for him occasionally to no avail. Something made me try again recently by looking for his sister first. I scored a possible hit.

In 40 years people’s faces and bodies change so I fired off a message that read:

“Not sure if I’ve got the right person. Are you the Pat I once knew in Ottawa when I was a scared kid all messed up on drugs? If it’s you, I’d like to apologize. You were good to me and I was careless and more than a bit of an asshole with that precious friendship. I’ve always regretted those times. I was in a loyalty conflict and didn’t have to balls to stand up for myself or our friendship. If that’s your sister, she was also always a doll with me. I was simply too screwed up to trust anyone. I apologize to you both. Best wishes. CW”

To my surprise, after a few days he answered right on my wall.

Hey well never thought I’d hear from you again Chris. I hope your well. We will be in Ottawa soon for the big party. Hope we are able to talk. Nice to hear from you.

Well that was too easy. Decades of self-loathing at stake and he says nice to hear from you? Where are the recriminations? What about at least agreeing I was an asshole? How many ways can I help you tell me off?

Instead, nothing. Just forgiveness.

Later he explained the bit about never hearing from me again.  Sister had informed her brother decades ago I had been killed in the 1980s. Not surprising given circumstances, and, lucky for me, an understandable exaggeration. For all Pat knew, I was gone. He’d made his peace with that episode of his life long ago. So my reaching out must have freaked him out a bit.

And they were coming to town in a week or two for Canada’s 150th. Turns out the festivities in the capital kept everyone busy but on the day before Pat left town, I was able to pick him up at his hotel near the airport and drag him out to the acreage where I live with my missus and children.

Mel kindly made us a wonderful steak dinner which we ate out back while watching the kids and animals gamboling about. And Pat and I caught up on close to 40 years of life until well past dark.

It was wonderful. It was truly something I’ll never forget. More so because I realize those opportunities are fleeting. We can be filled with good intentions one day about fixing past wrongs, and then rationalize it away the next.

In the end, I believe it’s best to take a shot.

I have advised others to do the same over the years. You just never know what can come of it. It could come to nothing, in which case you have done your best.

But it can also re-open old friendships as if they were never gone. What goes on in your head is only the half of it. You see, the other people grow up too. Not always, but mostly they do.

 

Perhaps good things do come in threes (omni trium perfectum). Not long after I made my first overtures to my old business partner, I received a message from my brother one evening.

He’d moved into a place in the Byward Market and upon meeting a neighbour, was recognized as a Wallace “by the eyes” I’m told. Turns out it was a friend of mine of more than 40 years. In fact, he knew our whole family back in the day, had met my parents and the rest of it.

When we eventually met up, it was he who apologized to me. It doesn’t matter for what, just that I was able to offer him forgiveness. We both won.

It’s our expectations that drive disappointment. Therefore, it’s best to have none. In my case, I reached out because I thought it was the right thing to do. How my attempt is taken is mostly none of my business. I felt I owed an apology regardless, and I would have felt at least a bit better no matter how it was received.

I was fortunate. In fact, almost every time I’ve done this kind of thing, it’s turned out reasonably well. These last two apologies, better than ever. Here I am with two good men my age nearby as friends again, and one to stay in touch with and visit on the west coast.

If you have people in your life you feel indebted to in some way, why not drop them a line and tell them so, without any expectations.

You will feel better at the very least. And you could get lucky too.

It’s apology’s gift.

CKWallace

© ckwallace.com 2017, all rights reserved

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Real Man-Cold Manifesto

 

Thank you, Oh Universe, for this virus.

It was brought to me upon the wheezing, coughing, and sneezing wings of friendship. As such, it is not purposely malicious; but instead, a sign of communion with my fellow man.

Far worse it be to never have a cold. For this would mean my gifts to others were never shared, neither their gifts with me. Sadly, this could mean my demise, at first in spirit, later physically, leaving me a hollowed-out shell of self.

If I never caught a cold, it would mean I was isolated and alone: Death to a human.

No. I realize you are but one of a legion of cold viruses that circulate my world, forever re-combining with bits and pieces of each other. I fear thee not… for each time we meet my body learns to defeat another foe.

Though, it takes a week or two to best you, your specific kind never possesses me again. Each time, you and your malevolent symptoms are banished from the kingdom of my being for evermore.

You are but an inconvenience.

And neither shall I feel much guilt in transmitting your existence to others. Though, I take great care to protect the weak, the old and the very young from your trials.

For myself, rather than see you as harm, I see you as opportunity. To me, you are an exercise in immunity, and I am up for that task.

The occasional lament overheard, those times when what seems like complaint makes its way past these lips, let me explain: It is because my work is being interfered with, nothing more.

For this is what men do; work in many ways defines us. Though the interruption is temporary, it is not tolerated. A cold is often cursed for daring to detract from our noble cause.

Let no one be mistaken: a cold is nothing to a man.

Nothing at all

 

Christopher K Wallace       ©2017 all rights reserved        www.ckwallace.com

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