Recently, I told a friend the truth. We have been very close friends for six years or so, after knowing one another for over a decade. We are the same age, go for walks together, give one another leftovers, text daily, advise one another on whatever the issue of the day or week is, and were once neighbors; she lived down the road from me, and I from her, about half a mile. Another former next-door neighbor of mine, and near neighbor of hers, a man who is an acquaintance of mine more than a friend (let’s call him Bill Earl), has met my close friend Pat (we’ll call her Pat as that’s her name) many times over the years, in at least seven or eight instances, in various venues, and always with me, which makes sense as she’s my friend. When these encounters occur he always, without fail, asks her, or me, her name, and basically says the following, ‘Hi, I’m Bill Earl. Who are you?’, or “What’s your name?’ And every time, after the encounter ends, she turns to me and says something along the lines of, ‘I have met that guy so many times, and he always forgets my face, and my name. He forgets we went through the exact same introduction before. He forgets having met me, period. What is up with that, Mahhhhhj?’

In the past, I have not ‘shot for the pin’, telling Pat in response to her Bill Earl query, ‘Oh gosh, Pat, he’s an asshole, who cares’ (we’ll call him an asshole because he is), or ‘He might be one of those people who never remembers anyone, just fuggedaboudit, move on’ (major truth-y caveat in a moment). These are not lies, they’re obfuscations, foggy half-truth answers. But this time, this latest time they met, and did the dance of his forgetting, which clearly hurt, and hurts, her feelings, I decided to tell Pat the un-foggy, hit the pin truth, or at least my version of the truth as I see it, and as I have experienced it: Pat, you’re not his type, ergo he doesn’t want to fuck you, and he’s one of those guys who can’t and won’t remember any woman he doesn’t want to fuck. You could change that, by being (by his definition) important or rich – but basically, absent that, you’re not his type. It’s not personal, and, quite frankly, lucky you, stupid him, because you are gorgeous, smart, kind, and any guy over fifty who turns his nose up at dating a nurse, a woman who can literally restart his heart, is a fool. 

Bill Earl is definitely a fool. I know all this because Bill was my neighbor, and he asked me out, because I’m his ‘type’ (more on that later). Bill E. is about a decade older than Pat and myself and I’m his ‘type’ in part because he was looking for, and was very open about looking for, a younger woman to marry, one who would be able to take care of him as he aged. He shared this with me over a mystery meat and soggy veggie-filled buffet supper at a truly crappy restaurant he took me to called The Colonial, a dinner I paid for because no, just no, I am not letting this guy treat me, not a chance. Not only was I uninterested in Bill Earl, it is actually not possible for me to be less interested in changing the diapers of a Boomer Boy, any Boomer Boy, although I guess he gets snaps for honesty. Maybe? 

About two years after this ‘date’, Bill married a wealthy, younger than him by at least a decade divorcee who had once dated his older, richer, more successful brother, an aspect of the situation I’m aware of because he gleefully shared it with me on more than one occasion, which I personally found a bit gross, because why is this dude competing with his brother in this gross way and why, why, why the fuck is he telling me about it?! At one point during his marriage to this woman, he admitted to me that he knows he is a dilettante at heart, a dabbler, who was happiest being taken care of by those who are worker bees, like his new wife. Ouch. She has since – wisely, although I don’t know the details – divorced him, and one supposes he has had to go back to work, at least working to find another busy bee to take care of him. He does have two daughters as back up, I guess. We’ll see.  

Bill Earl is what I call a lookist male. Lookist males are those who require beauty, standard issue beauty, in their female partners, and often in their female friends as well. Standard issue beauty is defined as (mostly) young or much younger than said lookist, thin or curvy (not ever fat or fat-adjacent), tall but not taller than he is (short only if very thin, uber-feminine, and entirely unthreatening), with even, open European facial features. Great hair is also a plus, as are big boobs, even if they’re fake. Think Fox News female anchors, with D’Trump as the best/worst example of a lookist. These criteria exist because male lookists see women as, basically, arm candy, as a reflection of themselves, their egos; to them, women are decorative plates on the walls of their lives, not individuals with hopes, dreams, aspirations and desires – and even walls of their own. There are a lot of lookists in every institution and profession, and a whole lot of lookist goons on line, trolling women with regards to their appearance, women who, if they’re smart, grounded, and mentally healthy, do not give one half of one fuck what these assholes think, feel, or say about their looks, or anything else.    

My former neighbor and good pal Pat is a gorgeous woman, a wonderful friend, a beautiful human being who is constantly extending herself to take care of others. Was it true, what I said about Bill Earl never being able to remember her (maybe, my opinion), was it kind (no, I could see it stung her, as did his continual inability to recall her face or name), was it necessary (not really but after trying to answer without telling the truth for a decade, FTS), was it an improvement on the silence (oh hell, probably not, but honestly fuck that guy)? Anyway, it’s done. And, because we’re close friends, I will follow-up and talk to her about it, apologizing for my tactlessness, no matter how true I believe it may have been. 

Yesterday I finished an okay, not great book of fiction that had several pearls of wisdom, one of which was that much of our lives is defined by the consequence of either making what we know is the easier but probably wrong decision, one that is inevitably also easier to identify, or making the difficult, hard, possibly, maybe right decision, but isn’t it all so uncertain – because hey, who can really tell! – a decision that goes against the tide, the tide of easier. Making the right choice, making the right decision, oftentimes requires hard work, and sacrifice, means swallowing our egos, our pride, our desire to be right, or snarky, or clever – it even, sometimes, means giving up the idea we have about being nice (especially true for women), because nice people never hurt anyone else’s feelings, which is ludicrous. It can mean, those harder choices, being unkind, inconveniencing others, calling off the move, the wedding, the promotion, the trip, the need to go along to get along. It can mean change, and blowing up what is because what might be, might be better.

At times, like family weddings, for instance, I have had to eat a lot of shit to get through the fucking event. What’s that British saying about ‘lying back, turning your head into the pillow, and thinking of England’? This saying was coined as a coping mechanism for women, as a way to get through having marital sex with one’s unappealing partner, and that’s pretty much what being human often requires. And, sometimes, facing the pillow or eating shit is simply not possible, and the truth will out, must out. Sometimes, the shit that happens as a result needed to happen, needs to have consequence, be consequential, is long over-due, because burying our truths is too high a price to pay for niceness, for tight smiles, and letting whatever it is go for the hundredth or thousandth time.

In a time when women, and women’s stories, are increasingly more likely to be believed than in the past, a time when men – conservative white men especially – are freaking out because they’re facing a world that is more diverse, more female driven, and much more likely to be consequential for them – as in they are more likely to face consequences for behavior men have been getting away with for a millennia – resisting the pressure to be nice, stepping into the risky space of change, of disruption, of ‘un-likeability’ and into full-personhood is essential for all women and girls, who have been conditioned to be decorative for just as long – a millennia – at the expense of our humanity, and often our lives. Embrace your full-personhood, women, and tell dudes like Bill Earl to his face, ‘Look brotherfucker, we’ve met like nine times, you asshole! Remember this face, because this face, this body, and millions of others just like it, are the future.’