Sitting in the bar with my buddy Mikey G. Having a few beers and listening to him talk. I was the listener, the buyer of beers and shots, but not the wingman.
Because just at that moment, Mikey G could care less about women, and was, in fact, in the process of swearing off them forever, when I caught the bartender’s eyes and held up two fingers. Another round.
Mikey G’s heart was broken. He wanted to talk.
“It just fucking sucks,” he said.
By that he really meant that it just fucking hurt like hell, he didn’t know where to turn, how he would survive another day, or just what the fuck was worth getting up in the morning for, but he didn’t want to say it exactly like that.
It’s a guy thing.
And it’s a feeling all guys know, so I got to wondering that night, as I listened to Mikey G’s tale, if women truly knew how cruel they can be, and if they knew how much we, as guys, actually feel.
Seems as if there’s a lifetime of stories, information, and advice about a woman’s tender heart, but hardly anything on the guys they chase, catch, use, discard, and crush.
Women are soft and cute and funny and bright, with bumps and curves in all the right places. They are smart, generous, and sometimes giving. But they are not the tender sex. That’s a cruel myth, forever perpetuated, and willingly played, by most women on the men they chase.
Mikey G was a good guy. Not the brightest bulb in the deck, and way too hairy to be called good looking, but a good guy. He was a proud Guido through and through. I called him Mikey Pots and Pans, cause the dude liked his Momma’s pasta. He called me Little Stevie cause of my love for all things Bruce and my weird Irish-Catalan heritage.
We were sitting in a Queens bar, near where he lived, just off Frannie Lou Boulevard. I had been to the neighborhood many times. Not my scene, but home to Mikey G.
“It’s just not fair,” man, he said. “I loved her, you know?”
I did know. Wow, did I ever know.
In fact, I don’t know a guy who doesn’t know the feeling. I can guarantee that for every five guys you see in the bar next weekend, at least one of them is hurting big time.
The impossible expectations of how men are supposed to be, supposed to act, supposed to think, is ridiculous if you stop and really think about it.
We’re supposed to be both strong and tender; ambitious yet generous; good-looking but humble. We’re supposed to be kind while at the same time ready to rumble.
We get judged by how we are between the sheets. But we can’t be too big or too small. Our function is supposed to be solely to give you pleasure. If we don’t, you move on to one who you think will. Everyone says it’s what you’re supposed to do, right? But never wondering if maybe, just maybe, it had something to do with you, not us.
We are programmed at birth to compete. It’s hard wired into our DNA. We never stop competing. Ever. If we could, we would, trust me, but we don’t know how. It’s why our pain for having loved and lost is so much harder than yours.
We’re expected to be the providers, to be the rock, the calm in still waters, the go-to when times are tough, the one you want in the fox hole with you, but to express no feelings at all on this burden, because that’s a weakness. And a weakness once shown…man, that gets noted in a women’s mind as a black mark against that ever elusive – but universally demanded – quality of all: confidence.
The stereotypes of men are ridiculous. While women may be the smarter sex – by far – we are not Neanderthals, perpetually on the prowl for sex and the next food item to kill. Most guys are very much the opposite, actually, and capable of great nuance in their thinking and approach to life.
Yes, we do communicate differently than you – very, very differently. Just deal with it. A guy can express an entire thought in a single grunt to another guy. Message sent and received and nothing more needs to be added. Similarly, guys can go weeks, months, without talking to each other and still be best friends. Completely normal for us.
Mikey G and I, for example, didn’t talk that much and didn’t really hang out that much. But when he texted, I went. Had heard about his break-up. Knew his girl well. Knew his pain.
As he nursed his broken heart, his eyes kept darting to his phone lying face up on the bar. I knew what he was doing. He was wishing, hoping, praying to see a text from her. He still held hope.
Bad move, I knew, but I had to let it play out for him. Women have a don’t-look-back switch built into them. Once they’re gone and on to the next one, they just don’t fucking care about what they leave behind. Seen it every time. One minute she’s your lover, your buddy, your anchor, your life, and in the next, she’s gone with the wind, man. Just gone, as if you never were.
It was getting late, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Mikey G’s boy, Anthony D, roll in. Didn’t know Anthony all that well. He’s a Staten Island boy and I guess Mikey had texted him too. Wasn’t sure about this dude – kinda snarky and he had no chin. Weirdest thing I ever saw. Like, really, the man didn’t have a discernible chin. But it’s a long haul from SI to Queens, so I thought that was a cool move on his part to answer the call.
Knew he was riding high, just the opposite of Mikey G. Heard he had hooked up with a new girl and was smitten. Good for him, I thought. Also knew his new love. Knew he was on the road to nowhere, and would sooner or later be sitting in the same seat that Mikey G was now siting in.
Not my place to say, though. I was ready to hand off Mikey to him and head home.
It’s a guy thing.