Tag Archive | "What Women Want"

What Women Want

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Late in the day yesterday, I ran to a nearby location of a major drugstore chain to pick up two items.  Yesterday, by the way, was Valentine’s Day, 2011.  With my items in hand, I headed toward the cash registers only to pull up short at the greeting card section.

There, men from college age to upper middle age jockeyed for position like pedestrians on New York City’s midtown streets.  At the eleventh hour, these dudes were all hoping to find the perfect card for their sweeties or wives.  The devil made me cast my eye down the aisle, where hundreds of pink and red heart-shaped candy boxes had stood just last week.  That aisle had been picked clean, as if army ants had marched over it.  Instinctively, I hurled, “You guys are all clueless!” at the card jockeys, who ignored me and continued to paw frantically at the greeting cards as if the secrets of life lay within them.

On Valentine’s Day, and on any day of the year, this is not what women want.  The last thing we want is to be relegated to a drugstore card and a total lack of creativity in wooing us.

What then, do women want?

In the film, What Women Want, starring Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson, uber macho Mel’s character is suddenly gifted with the ability to hear women’s thoughts.  This, he sees as a vile curse until a savvy shrink, played by Bette Midler, explains to him that he has won the emotional lottery, and why.  With the ability to hear how women think, Mel’s character gains a genuine understanding of what makes women tick.  Thus, he enters — and cherishes — his first adult relationship with Ms. Hunt’s character.

So … what is it that women want?

First and foremost, like the women in the movie, we want to be respected.  Men, please read that line again, for it’s the not only the truth, it’s the bottom line.

We may tell you that we want to be loved.  And in fact, all normal people, men and women, do wish to be loved by a significant other.  But love without respect is hollow and even dangerous.  Love cannot begin to sprout until we know that we are respected, that our feelings count and are taken into consideration.  Like the women in the movie, we want to be heard — even though we may not feed you guys information directly.

For instance, if we walk around the house muttering, “I need to get the latest Neil Young album, the one he cut with Daniel Lanois, and Robert Plant’s newest outing, too,” we expect you to listen — even though the bills are due and there’s no spare change for Neil, Daniel, or Robert.   We expect you to absorb this information so that, when … oh, say, Valentine’s Day … rolls around, we aren’t presented with compilations of artists whose work we already possess, or a lame box of heart-shaped candy.  We want to tear off the wrapping paper and see Neil, Danny, and Robert.

And if you’re thinking that Neil, Danny, and Robert don’t make very romantic presents, think again.  A present like this means that you have heard us; it means you have honored and granted our wishes.

Sometimes, we don’t want traditional gifts. Sometimes the best present of all is the gift of time.  And the essence of romance, in case you were one of those men elbowing each other out yesterday at the card display, is not hearts and flowers or even dinner out at a fine dining establishment.  The essence of romance is doing something unexpected for your lady, something that will quietly or perhaps not so quietly thrill her.

Under this category falls:

1. Taking your woman to see a “chick flick” that is so not your bag.  Sitting there, actually watching the film, and not grousing about it.

2. Giving her a pedicure (yes, a pedicure), just after you hand her a cup of her favorite tea, unasked.

3. Going for a ride on a sunny day in an area largely untouched by man, when your idea of a grand ole time is to bat around a bucket of golf balls on the range.  Packing a picnic for her, as an added surprise.  Oh, for heaven’s sake … call the local deli and have them do it, and then just go pick it up!

4. Cooking dinner, serving her, cleaning up, and doing it all with a smile

5. Telling her, “Yes, my mother is completely insane.  I must have been left on the doorstep by elves,” when your woman rails yet again about some slight you know was intended, delivered by your dear old mom … because you know your dear old mom!

6. Reliving a childhood memory for her and with her; i.e., visiting the zoo where her daddy used to take her to when she was little, flying a kite by the water, or dressing up for Halloween, even though you both may be staring retirement age (whatever that is, now) squarely in the face.  

All of these things, and so many more, spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T.   To quote the wise lyrics belted out and immortalized by Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.”

Hey, respect does not mean cussing me out for airing this article the day after Valentine’s Day!  Print it out, keep it close at hand, and refer back to it when necessary.  Yeah, I know, that paper is going to be as wrinkled as your great Aunt Teresa’s face.  Don’t worry about it; it’s only paper … it’s not a human heart.   Paper is made to spindle, fold, and manipulate; human hearts are not.  Refer back to this advice, and you can make many days during the year unofficial Valentine’s Days for your lady — who will, in turn, shower you with lots of love and respect. 

Anything Goes!

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Playing dress up is one of life’s little guilty pleasures.  Almost every little girl has surreptiously ransacked her mother’s belongings in order to appropriate them, usually on rainy days when we were bored, or when our mothers’ backs were turned.  Who can forget the slightly forbidden thrill of easing open our moms’ closets to select just the right dress for that fantasy occasion?  The frocks, of course, trailed behind us like the Mummy’s death cloths.  To mitigate our lack of height, we wee lassies then stepped into our mothers’ high heels, grabbed a purse, and were all set to go.  To complete our outfits, we clipped Mama’s earrings to our ears (ouch!) and demolished many a tube of lipstick, by applying the color while having not quite mastered our fine motor skills.

I remember once foregoing the actual garments and donning my mother’s bra and panties.  Armed with her hunter green alligator pumps and matching handbag (my very favorites), I announced that I was off to see the doctor for my appointment.  My parents howled with laughter and shared the joke with the entire family.  But had I been a boy and not a girl, I wonder what their reaction might have been.

People unsure of their sexuality often begin by experimenting with the apparel and accouterments of the opposite sex.   If women emulate Julie Andrews’ character from the film Victor, Victoria, they’ll learn the secrets for passing as a man.  However, it’s much harder for a man to try to get by as a woman.  The other day, for example, I encountered a cross-dressing male who’d made a real botch job of it.  The sticky tape he’d used to push together his “breasts” was visible, as were the wiry chest hairs curling out of the top of his V-neck dress.

While he should have studied the feminine wiles more closely if he’d intended to venture out in a frock, it boggles my mind why any man would want to put himself through the beauty rituals of women.  We are high maintenance!  It takes time, patience, money, and a lot of angst to look fine.  We shave our legs, but not every day.  As men have five o’clock shadows, they may need to shave closely more than once a day!  And, the art of cosmetics is just that, an art.  The way an artist applies paint to a canvas, so does a woman, to her face: with careful planning and forethought. Much like a good representational painting, she must strike a delicate balance between enhancement and a natural look.  If too much make-up looks bad on a woman, it sure as heck is not going to look any better on a man!

A proper, properly fitting, wig is also a must.  If the quality is lacking, the guy masquerading as a gal will look like nothing more than that, for the wig will appear no better than part of a Halloween costume.

Men must take extra care to keep their hands soft and smooth, and good luck to them in that endeavor; any woman knows how difficult it is to maintain her hands.  Night and day, day and night, as Cole Porter wrote, we lather them with all sorts of creams and lotions, and blow money in salons to get perfect manicures.  Any cross-dressing man or potential cross dresser will benefit from the following tip.  Soft tints of nail polish look best on short nails, whereas long nails can carry bolder colors.

As the saying goes, clothes make the man, and guess what?  They also make the woman.  Since men’s breasts tend to be a lot less voluptuous than women’s, they’ll want to conceal the fact that they’re wearing “falsies” by avoiding low-cut tops and dresses.  If a man does wish to bare part of his chest, he’ll have to shave or wax it, unless he wants to see the general populace upchuck as he waltzes by.   Again, I have no idea why a man would want to confine his upper body to a bra (I hate it!).  But if he does, more power to him — particularly if he purchases a well-constructed bra, such as one by Victoria Secret or another good brand.  There should be no skimping on bras!

Wearing the right shoes is also essential.  A guy shouldn’t start out in high heels, sling backs, or kitten heels.  Kitten heels are those dainty and dangerous little curved heels that give zero support under the ball of the foot. If I’ve twisted my ankle in these things, just imagine the damage a man might do.  And men, pretty please with sugar on top, don’t forget your legs.  If you think gorilla-fur legs under a dress are a pretty sight, they are not!  So be sure to shave or wax them before baring them in public.

Not every man who likes to play dress up wishes to live as a homosexual or undergo radical sex-change surgery.  Some men who like donning ladies’ things claim that it’s a way to relieve stress.  Part of this may stem from having to wear suits and ties to the office.   Many women like to unwind by slipping on a little silky camisole or nightie after a long hard day’s work.  I suppose that some men just want to do the same.

Then again, some men don’t.

Mel Gibson’s character in the film, What Women Want, was one such man.  A chauvinistic, womanizing advertising honcho, he finds his position in the food chain threatened by his new boss, who is a woman (Helen Hunt).  That woman orders Mel, as a marketing assignment, to experiment with a sampling of feminine products.  He screamed his lungs raw when he waxed his legs, poked himself in the eye with a wand of mascara, and shoved his nether-regions into a pair of pantyhose the way that an Inquisitor may have pushed some pour soul into an Iron Maiden.  When his body received a strong electrical jolt, Mel’s brain got re-wired so that he could hear — and was tortured by — the thoughts of every woman who comes within ten feet of him.

An inspired twist on the usual man-dressing-as-woman movie, What Women Want had a number of comedic cinematic predecessors.  Starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon in the 1959 flick, Some Like it Hot, the men resort to cross-dressing in order to evade the mob after witnessing a murder.  In 1982, Dustin Hoffman portrayed a woman in the blockbuster, Tootsie, co-starring his character’s love interest, played by Jessica Lange.  An actor who can’t get hired because of his histrionic behavior with producers and directors, Hoffman goes “under cover”.  As an “actress”, he becomes not only a huge hit in the soap opera world, but a role model for every woman who’d ever been sexually harassed or downtrodden because of her gender.

One of my personal favorites was the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire.  In this 1993 film, the wild and wacky Robin Williams is denied custody of his children by his wife, Sally Field, who has just divorced him.  Desperate to see his children, Williams dons the guise of a dumpy, initially innocuous housekeeper who later turns out to be hell on wheels.  The following year, Robin Williams starred, with Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman, in the riotous Bird Cage.  A homosexual living in Florida, Williams’ character does not “dress up.”  But he does own and operate a club that features women impersonators, including his own lover.  It’s a-laugh-a minute when the gay guys pull one stunt after the other to throw Gene Hackman off the scent.  Hackman, you see, plays a prominent, tight-laced Senator who visits Williams just before his daughter is scheduled to marry Williams’ son.

A number of other actors have “taken the dress” in Hollywood flicks.  These include Johnny Depp in Glen or Glenda, Will Smith in Wild West, and Patrick Swazye and Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the late, great Three Stooges, particularly the short in which Curly wore a Shirley Temple wig and a sweet little … okay, not so little … pinafore in order to pass as a little … okay, not so little … girl.

While there is humor to be found in these situations when they are relegated to art, things are apt to turn serious when carried into one’s personal life.  Some couples like to enhance their sexual pleasure by dressing up behind closed doors.  Before donning the apparel favored by the opposite sex, one would be prudent to gauge the feelings of one’s partner.  Something of this nature, sprung suddenly upon an unsuspecting partner, could have emotional repercussions for both parties and may damage the relationship irrevocably.

It’s also not a good idea to disguise oneself as a woman and fool a randy man into thinking that one is the genuine article.  Police blotters and emergency rooms nationwide have seen too many cases of cross-dressers beaten up, or worse, by men who’d assumed they were picking up women for a good time.  Do you remember the film, The Crying Game, with the great Irish actor Stephen Rhea?  If so, then you remember how shocked, hurt, and disgusted he was when he finally discovered that his beautiful and mysterious love interest, Dil, was actually a man.

Society is slow to accept change, but change comes inevitably.  Famous couture designer Coco Chanel first stunned the world with her swimsuits.  Although they had lots of coverage by today’s standards, the public still sent up a hue and cry over their scantiness.  Later, Coco scorched her hair as she prepared to enjoy a night at the opera.  Instead of hiding beneath a hat, she cut off most of her locks and showed up at the opera, thus creating the initially scandalous “bobs”.  So, while some people prefer to keep His and Hers separate, others are more broad-minded when it comes to gender bending.  Given enough time and persistence, cross-dressing men will be better tolerated in this world where, as the late ’60’s song says, “anything goes.”

Anything Goes (chorus)


In days of old

A glimpse of stocking

Was looked on

As something shocking.

Now heaven knows,

Anything goes! 

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