What’s the secret to keeping man, to approaching quietly and catching a blue bird between your hands? What’s the secret to making him stay, to harnessing him to your heart until your “I do” day? What is it to have him cherish you like a diamond in a musical box wrapped in satin placed upon the highest shelf reserved for only, untouchables?
I glare at poised women with stiff necks who capital their sentences with “you’ll never guess what” and close them with “and so he did” “and it was put to full stop”. Mine end with a comma, a question, a dangling ellipsis as I exhaust my brain trying to tally the points I must earn to be awarded the nonobligatory engagement of a man’s respect.
If my lips were a deeper red my eyes more fleeky, my body went in where it’s told to go in and out where it’s expected to go out. Skirts that reveal the pleats of my skin, blouses that button in reverse, shoes that arch your body into steep contortions, jeans that grip like face paint. Why do I paint my face?
Soon he’ll grow tired of my features quickly to gravitate towards the latest polly dolly toy plus to open its motion sensored legs and auto dispensable, virginity. I am left with the side bags to his main bags which sit beneath an adjacent door. Bags I will not touch but carry restlessly under my eyes forever more. To me he has passed away, left this life for more, attractive pastures.
Meanwhile my pastures lay blinking in the breeze, awaiting a new man to pass by and survey the quality of my assets. My roots, are they dry? My fruits, are the ripe? My soil, is it fertile? We have evolved from monkeys to farmers and century after century our fossils will tell of our same shaped practices, they will pile together to form the patriarchal tower that marks the soiled lineage of human existence.
Dutifully I laboured long and constructed a ladder, sweat traced my nape as I haphazardly knocked iron nails between my fingers to penetrate the horizontal grains of weather aged timber. I scrubbed it and sanded it, I tweezed out every single splinter and made it fit for a prince, not a prince a king, not a king my god. I stacked my hopes on every step and gazed in reverence as he ascended the pedestal that my hands testified bruises in making for him.
All I ask is to be obsessed over, I will be his golden calf and he my rosary bead. To have a permitted stalker, someone who scouers the tabs of the endless web to know just about everything about me, someone whose only cure for an insomniac demon is hear my voice before sleep, someone who’ll notice if that tiny little mole on the side of my nose one day fades away. I want someone to be particular about me, someone who will lean left, lean right and oh, tread the tight rope of crazy about me. It’s an endearing sort of madness.
But there’s always one who loves less and one who loves more, one who perches themselves open and the other who reminds- “I’m not forcing you” there’s the door, one who earnestly tugs at the feet and the other who’s being dragged in a dry grip, finger nails piercing deep and screeching like a piping kettle while being scrapped away from the carefree liberties of bachelor-ism .
What does it take?
It is in this that there’s a mis-coordination, like a toe trodden salsa, like a disjointed waltz, like pushing the keys of a piano, it’s melody battling against the crash of falling glass. We don’t hear ear to ear, we don’t see eye to eye. If our pupils dilate when we see something we love, why am I cropped out of the reflection in your eyes?
I won’t let it be irreparable. You see I can be any woman you want. With tricks and make up, I can make over to make real your woman of make believe. As a woman I am a shape shifter. On Mondays I am Melony, but by Friday I am Letrissa. For every inch of skin she shows, she is a centimeter away from a “clumsy” hand or a pinch to the wrong cheek, and even when she gets a millimeter closer to the acknowledgement of my name, she is swept an immeasurable distance backwards on a treadmill disguised as a lane.
I am reminded that my body tells a story except I have no control over the narrative which is gazed upon me by clueless, faultless authors. And if I wrap myself in shapeless garments, preferring instead to avert my attention to the attainment of a Legum Baccalaureus I am underlined with the red ink of “career woman” and my value as a thing of beauty diminished, crossed off, sidelined. A woman can be only one of few types, we are sectioned into dichotomous rings from which we are defined.
Catching a man is like catching water through an open hand, I bow, I worship, I learn, I copy, I adapt, I hide, as I feel him slipping away desperately, I expose, I plead, I steal an emperor’s new cloak and parade myself stark naked. But as a woman I feel the reiteration, the metaphorical pat on the head, the slanted smile that as much as I am custom made to be yours, I am disposable, like the sheets on a rich person’s bed.
In the tight entanglement of lust and love we cross our eyes trying to tease out the throbbing strands to determine the point at which they intersect. Working hard to earn what should be a granted respect. While men make choices for the approval of men, women make choices to please men who only care for the approval of other… men.
As a woman I observe the way we frame ourselves ready to sit on the mantelpiece of a man. “As a woman” is not how I should begin my excuses when I beg to be taken as I am.
I wish I could tell you the secret to keeping a man. Lay out for you a 7 step action plan. But we are not made to satiate a biological appetite, nor to bow into an order of social indoctrination. Nation, wide we have come to accede to the silent contract whereby women adjust themselves to be given the time of day. So henceforth when you feel him slipping through your fingers, quiet and still you must stay, knowing that if he doesn’t want to stick around, then you’ll let him walk away.