I love my friend the Duck Of Destiny. No, seriously, I do. And I'm even proposing marriage right here on this blog because of my great and passionate rush of feelings towards him. There are many reasons to love him (in fact, we're going to have a passionate affair in New York when we are both 40 and old and wise), but one of the biggest reasons is that he is a consistent nail-on-the-head-hitter. Every story I tell him--if he's listening listening and not just making fun of me--gets the most marvellous insights.
Like, recently? We were chatting about men, more specifically the men in my life, and he said, "Well, you're lovely till you have your first meltdown, so you should avoid that." And I was just so struck by that. My meltdown! How awesome! It had a word then, the drunk calling at three am, the weepy smoke breaks at work, the need to ask why why why don't you feel the same way about me. And such a succint word too.
Anyway. So Samit is awesome. Other people who know him will vouch for this. But now it's time to kick him off my blog and bring on an email I got from my mother this morning. I had mentioned the "meltdown" conversation and I was in a general snit about the State Of My Love Life. (Hey, if I can't whine to my mother who can I whine to?) and she sent me this (edited, of course, to save whatever little anonymity I have, but I did check whether I could post it):
Have been sitting here for the last half-an-hour trying to formulate some golden advice on how to avoid a "meltdown" (what a wonderful word!) --a brilliant insight, in fact, of the mysterious way we women over how many generations yearn to abdicate all power and responsibility for our lives. Many years ago, when you were still a teenager (This bit I do object to, I'm only 25 in case my mother has forgotten, it wasn't that long ago I was a teenager!), you declared one day, half in fun, that what you wished most of all was to lead a dog's life. To my mind, what you were wishing for was the desire to surrender all your hard-won independence and self-empowerment to the idea of making yourself lovable. It's an innately suicidal thought that women have probably been nurtured on for ever, almost as inescapable as our genes: this idea of making ourselves lovable. I keep thinking of how we mothers, while training our daughters with such solicitude on how to grow into financial independence, yet fail in the more important task of making them as emotionally tough as men. How many men do you know, for instance, no matter how callow or how old, who are susceptible to this lethal meltdown? This need, this overwhelming hunger for a man's love, this readiness to strip off all our plans and dreams as if these were only unwieldy clothes we donned for the sake of propriety, and which we put on only for the joy of taking them off again.
When we can admit to ourselves that it's mostly women who have these meltdowns--and the few men we know who are prone to similar meltdowns are men we secretly despise, as someone weak and needy and clingy--how can we then believe that women are as emanicipated as men? All that talk of sexual equality--isn't it just a load of rubbish? Are we really ready to enjoy casual sex the way men do and move on, taking pleasure only in the conquest and onwards to fresh adventure? Are we ready to forgo the Great Dream of the charming prince who will sweep us out of our life--so humdrum and tedious and hard-won, it seems--and will bear our cross for us for the rest of our life, saving us the trouble of those decisions, so troublesome and yet so exhilarating.
Baby, until you give up that dream and truly embrace your life for what it is, the meltdowns will keep recurring, no matter how many Princes and their shadows keep coming into your life. Put your ardour and passion into something more lasting than boys, dear heart. I know this is easier said than done, but you have so many gifts that deserve your passion: reading and writing being only two of them. There's your compassion for animals, your curiosity, your need to explore, your need to play more than games of love and your need to excel at something---the hard, satisfying enviable pleasure of accomplishing something arduous to your satisfaction. Be a man, my dear, and battle that urge for meltdown, and you'll have done something worthwhile for all of womankind.
I hope you all have such excellent Wise People in your tribe too.