Sunday, October 8, 2017

Why I Hate Women

I may be the only person you know (or, in many cases, don’t know) who can, at a party, recite the names of 23 singers and groups of singers who have recorded songs called Evil Woman. In every one of them, the referenced woman has caused the singer everything from humiliation to financial ruin. The blame is always hers alone. Typically, she should have known her beauty was such that it would inspire him to behave foolishly. I think shy teenaged boys make up most of the market for such songs. It comforts them to believe they’re getting nowhere with the classmates and neighbours after whom they lust because of said classmates’ and neighbours’ innate depravity. 

I spent the first part of my life being ravaged by female indifference. When I was in 3rd grade, I was secretly in love with a classmate called Jan Richter, but she didn’t know I was alive, and I was of course too shy to tell her. She wore poodle skirts — tres chic at the time — with incomparable panache, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life caring for her, providing for her. When my class went on a field trip, the teacher paired her with another boy — pairs of us were supposed to hold onto each other so that no one would wander off and the teacher would be fired, or even prosecuted for criminal negligence — and I thought to myself, “There but for fortune go I,” though not quite in those words. Some weeks after the field trip, Jan threw up in class, and there went my adoration. 

In sixth grade, it was Lynn Randolph after whom I lusted, but so did every other boy in Room 12, and she didn’t know I was alive. I wasn’t exactly the alpha male at Loyola Village School, though as a fifth grader I’d been named a Junior Helper, first preventing too many underclassmen (kindergarteners and first graders) from shoving into a particular boys’ lavatory at lunchtime, and later graduating to pushing the milk cart around at lunchtime, collecting five cents ($42.35 in today’s money) per little carton from thirsty fellow pupils. It was a fairly prestigious job, but Lynn wasn’t a milk-drinker, and seemed not even to notice, and I was of course too shy to point my accomplishment out to her. 

The half dozen sexiest teenage girls in the universe attended my junior high school. I had a fervent crush on Susan Pursell, who looked like Elizabeth Taylor, but I was too shy to make my intentions known, and by ninth grade she was being picked up after school by a high school boy with a car, to which I knew full well my bicycle had no hope of comparing. Three years later, Joy Ketner sat next to me in Civics, commonly in fuzzy sweaters. She would pick little bits of fuzz off her legs and then hold them into the aisle between us and drop them, and she might as well have been Sophia Loren in the iconic scene of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow  for the effect it had on me. I somehow worked up the nerve to ask her out. She turned out to have a boyfriend, with a car, at Santa Monica City College.  

I started college. I played in a band with Tot, a precocious 15-year-old guitarist from nearby University High School who’d already forgotten more about cool than I will ever learn. While I was stuck on The Beatles, he had already moved on to Paul Butterfield. He had long hair at a time when long hair got you suspended from school, and wore plaid trousers of the sort The Rolling Stones and Love had worn on recent album covers. He’d stolen them from Sy Amber, the Hollywood Blvd. gentlemen’s boutique at which Love had probably paid retail for theirs. 

He and his buddy Joel allowed me to accompany them to Hollywood one Saturday evening in the spring of my freshman year. Joel wasn’t happy about it, as I had no plaid trousers, and hair short enough for Air Force ROTC, in which I’d stupidly enrolled because I thought if I had to go to Viet Nam one day, it might be less awful if I went as an officer, rather than as a gentleman. I was the perfect nerd. The pair of them smoked marijuana, and giggled madly, and enticed a trio of girls with ironed hair to accompany us to the apartment of Tot’s dealer, who’d given him a key. On arriving, both of them began petting up a storm. The girl who’d chosen the short straw made clear that I wasn’t to get within three feet of her, and longed palpably for a time when she might be able to pretend to be preoccupied with her cell phone, though there were barely telephones at the time. She wasn’t exactly Claudia Cardinale herself, but what very little self-esteem I had at the time was nonetheless decimated. 

And you ask why I hate women?


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