Chapter 34. Sex on vacation

Given the sexless vacation waters that many couple navigate these days, I see more and more of my married girlfriends going away alone with their kids. I see more and more of my girlfriends going away with their husbands + more people (usually other adults with or without kids). That way even if they don’t get laid, at least they assure themselves some adult conversation at the dinner table. It seems like as you become more mainstream bourgeoise, the perfect vacation is harder to achieve. Even at the same age, we have very different lifestyles depending on personal circumstances, you might find yourself in the single market, in the comfortably numb married-with-no-benefits or seldom benefits market, in the not married with benefits or in the divorced with/without kids market. So different things can happen:

You go away with a man that you only met on the Internet – You might jump on a plane because you have been chatting with a really nice good looking guy from Oklahoma for three months and you think that it is about time to go meet him in person and get some action. All this virtual infatuation is killing you and you are on a mission to release all the accumulated sexual tension. Because you are an adventurer, strong independent woman and can afford it, you agree to meet him at his nearest airport, you will then board the plane together and set off to St. Marteen. There you will spend four fabulous nights of romance getting to know each other while taking long walks along the beach. Since the guy is an artist and is broke (one of the reasons why he is available after 40) you will pay for the hotel room with your miles because you are such an accomplished woman that you travel all over the world for work. You accumulate miles whenever you go for work to Singapore, Japan, etc. and miles means upgrades. Yes! You can stay at the Four Seasons in Honolulu with you Tinder honey, have great sex and don’t spend a dime. Except when Mr. Oklahoma stands you up last minute because “some shit came up” and you end up spending your miles and your time alone in the Caribbean, then a hurricane hits the shore..at that moment, you might realize that you are 37, you are single, alone in a Caribbean Island luxury hotel room, miles away from a friend and you no longer have your vacation days nor your miles. Time to hit the bar.

You go away with a man that likes you but you don’t really like him – This scenario is not fun. You really have no interest in the guy but you have not got laid in so long that you convince yourself to go in hopes that a couple of glasses Chardonnay will do the trick. There is nothing less amusing for a women than going away with a guy that doesn’t stand a chance in bed. Dinner, drinks, all the time that you spend together will be a waste. You might hold hands reluctantly on the way to the restaurant but before he even makes a move, if you still have some neurons working, you will call the trip off ahead of time or you will make up an illness to spend most of the time in your room enjoying the mini bar, working or watching your favorite tv series. The guy on his end, for sure will act worried or disappointed or even angry. You will end up feeling like a total bitch. Big no no.

You go away with a man that you like a lot but he doesn’t quite like you – This is the type of scenario where a woman suffers the most. Perhaps the guy does not have the guts to break up with you or perhaps you have insisted so much and showed so much enthusiasm that he is just going just to please you (literally, for the sex) or because he has never been to Morocco before, or both. Whatever the case, since guys seem to be able to separate sex from feelings much better than women do, chances are that you will end up suffering when you realize that all you tenderness and all your dedication during the sexual encounters that the two of you had while on vacation was not appreciated nor corresponded. Maybe he will act nicer after that night and you will come back thinking that your relationship has gone to the next level, but it will be hard to find out that it has not when one week later, back in NYC, he does not return your calls…

You go away with a man that you like, he likes you back but he is married – This scenario is a common one. You will naturally act cooler than his wife and you will naturally seem cooler than his wife to him. Obviously it is much more exotic for a man to meet a lover that wears La Perla lingerie at a Peninsula Hotel in Sidney than to go home to the mother of his kids who probably has to make ends meet and only has the gut to get herself some nice Princesse Tam Tam ensembles now and then and with whom he ends up at a noisy Family Riu Hotel each time he goes on vacation. Here, you will find a lot of pleasure I mean physical and emotional pleasure because men tend to relax and enjoy themselves more with their mistress than they do with their wives. He will laugh and be more attentive with you, and he will show the best of him. However, nothing will prepare you for your lonely single-woman apartment when you get back to Rome. The married man will go home and in exchange for those wonderful vacation days in India, you will have to heat up canned soup and eat it in from of the tv many weekdays knowing that while you do that, he will be sharing the family dinner table with his kids and wife.

You go away with your girlfriends – This is just fun!!!! you go out like headless chicken each night laughing and talking about…mostly men hoping that one of you will get lucky tonight. After a few days hanging out, reading magazines and discussing girly topics, you will be dying for some guys to approach the group…

You go away with your best friend – The most relaxing option of all. You can have a real good time with your best friend pretty much anywhere, even with no sex. Unless that friend is going through a rough love episode and spends the entire vacation with a guy that she met at the beach party the first night or looking at her phone screen or talking to you about her relationships problems or reading out loud her whatsapps. In that case, you will probably end up your vacation wanting to be devoured by a Caribbean shark.

You go away with other couples with no kids – Another suitable solution if you want to spend a nice relaxing vacation provided that you truly get along with the other couple and that nobody fancies anybody’s husband or wife. In this scenario, it does not matter if you and your partner no longer have a blast together. When you go on a trip with other couples you get girl time, guy time and couples time. You have other human beings to entertain you and to entertain. It is usually good fun. There will be a lot of hand holding and a lot of seeming and a lot of showing off and a lot of excuses “good night honey, I had too much wine…sleep tight”. If you are lucky, you will get laid once. Nothing too memorable.

You go away with other couples with kids – Don’t do this if you want to relax. Chances are that your kids will annoy you to death but more than your kids, your friends’s kids will annoy you to death. You will end up being fed up of them and if you are lucky, you will see them again, chances are you won’t, at least for a long time, hopefully once they graduate college. No sex will take place whatsoever because the sole idea of getting pregnant will have you terrified.

You go away with your husband/partner before the kids – This is another attractive option because before the kids, many couples actually do get along and have fun on vacation. You could actually have fun going on dates with your husband and ending the night with passion encounters. The problem is when one of the two has to give up drinking after dinner or sleeping at night, or when one of the them does not get to tan and relax reading a book on the hammock because the kids demand too much attention. In this scenario find a hotel with a kids club so that you and your partner can have a real break and find an hour in the afternoon for a quick fix.

You go away with your husband/partner after the kids – Things can go relatively well if the husband or partner shares all the childcare duties equally with the mother. If not, this kind of vacation only becomes more work for mom. Mom is not at home so she has to make do with a hotel room and most of the time, mom will have to stress out during the meals because the kids are a bit out of control. Dad won’t be able to have his quiet time inside the hotel room and he won’t be able to have mom either. This will make him even crankier. Mom will be always the last to shower and will have practically no time for herself. Of course as the kids grow up the situation improves but then you have to deal with teenage issues and needs. In short, better to stay at home until they turn 18.

You go away with Crocodile – Crocodiles are terrible companions. You cannot count on them for pretty much anything. For sure, when going away with a crocodile you will get to the vacation destination alone and in advance carrying not only your items but his. Crocodiles tend to have tight work schedules and never tell you for sure if they will be able to make it. Crocodiles tend to act indifferent to the charms of the place that you have picked or to anything that most people would find awesome. They won’t be eager to discover the restaurant or to sample any wine or to visit that museum with you. They will make you feel like they are there but absent at the same time, looking at their phones and thinking about the next thing on the agenda. For that reason, a crocodile might suddenly stand you up if something work related comes up or if his mom calls him saying she is feeling dizzy. You will have to call off your vacation, over and over, getting into ridiculous fights that might have you not talking to each other for days. It is likely that after those episodes you convince yourself that the relationship is over. You will put crocodile inside his cage and lock it, but he will unlock it and get out to come to you and give you mind blowing ferocious sex in the middle of the hallway.

You go away with Prince Charming – Everything is systematically perfect. He will let you pick the hotel that you like. He won’t complain about how much the hotel costs, he will like the things you like, he will let you seat on the side of the plane that you want and be nice to the flight attendant. He will go over your suitcase to make sure that you have everything that you might need because he knows how dizzy you can be sometimes. He will carry your luggage and do the check in upon arriving. He will take care of you and share your travel rithm, you will wake up together, he will say good morning, you will enjoy breakfast on the terrace, in short, you will be compatible, something essential when traveling. He will share romantic dinners with you and romantic sexual encounters that will be so sweet and utterly pleasurable. Prince Charming always delivers the promise. Period. When it comes to dancing around the world, Prince Charming remains the best option for any girl on Earth.

You go away with you ex-husband plus the kids and the new significant others – By the end of this trip, which for sure looks promising and interesting to any French producer, the significant others will end up exchanging telephone numbers and becoming Facebook friends. They know that they might need to support each other during a likely break up. This trip will be good for the  ex partners to spend time being reminiscent and acting cute towards one another but nothing else. A trip of this nature, unless it happens without the new spouses, will make the current parters completely out of place and inadequate. Reminiscent sex in the horizon.

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Chapter 33. The crave

Early love is a drive. People live for love, kill for love and die for love. It provides great joy and great sorrow to those who dare to experience it. When in love your brain gets a rush, some say similar to a drug, and you feel invincible for a few weeks, maybe a few months, maybe a few years. Your obsesion for another person is powerful. Suddenly it gives sense to your life and all those inherently human feelings of insecurity, sadness, anxiety or lack of satisfaction disappear. You feel, you really feel everything in the air, you no longer think to much, at least you do not worry so much, and that not thinking and all that feeling makes you simply and wonderfully happy.

The bothers of everyday life, the feelings of emptiness at work or in general that we all feel at times, in sort, human despair, is gone while early in love. Your mind is now governed by the craving for another person, that you feel is there to complete you. The sole comfort of imagining that you might have a chance at being with that person is reason enough to forget about your worries, some say that this time of uncertainty is precisely the sweetest part of early love (infatuation). You get to fantasize for hours about the object of your desire, you can observe him or her from a distance, your look for that person’s car in the parking lot, at the gym, you go out with the hope of running into that person, you long for their number to show up on your telephone screen and of course you think about sex. Some say that this stage exists only to ensure human procreation, that is, to trick us into having babies… You try to find out everything that you can about that person, focusing on what you like and not seeing what you might not like because love, in that sense, is as blind as people say.

Many people (men or women) are known for not giving themselves completely into the madness that love is. You have perhaps experienced or listened to stories about guys that have commitment problems. Perhaps these people have decided (after a bad experience) that the rush is not worth the suffering, perhaps they never dared to go for it or perhaps they feel that their life is better when is them in control. Like death, love happens to everyone at some point, we can even say that love is life and love is death. The difference is that those who experience romantic love or love at all its stages, live to talk about it, to write about it, to make movies about it or like in my case, to blog about it. Sometimes people going through love don’t even need to talk, you can just see them go up and up in excitement for a while to then observe how they fall and hurt themselves badly. When that happens, it is only natural to remain cautious. Even Prince Charming broke up with me after a wonderful month of dating in France. I never understood his reaction. We were crazy about each other. Now, twelve years later, with a son across the ocean, a broken heart and a divorce on his back, I can understand his hesitance.

So is it worth it? Is it an intelligent thing to fall for someone that way to only find out  later that after some time, in the best case scenario, you will spend the rest of your life with the same person, putting up or tolerating all those things that you dislike about yourself with him/her? The very same things that you were unable to assess during the early love stage? Will you be happy having three kids, a dog and a mortgage? Will you be happy evolving into the love stage that civilized people call “mature or affectionate love” based on companionship and mutual respect? What will you do when those human feelings of anxiety and insatisfaction come back into your life?  What if after falling for that feeling/person and going through all of that you discover that you miss your former self? What if you fall for someone else after having started a family with another person? What if your partner falls for someone else and says ciao overnight?

If someone invented a pill to stop infatuation from happening once you get married would you take it? Would you take it in order to skip the craving or would you skip taking it and go again for the ephemeral  illusion of a happy human life?

Of course happiness can be found in the sense of family, watching your children grow, striving at your career, humanitarian causes, etc…but that is not what I am talking about.

Chapter 32. A dog affair

In 2008 my Westie got terrible sick. It did not happen while she was with me but it did happen literally overnight. The night she got sick she was with my friend Carol Fireston, a Jewish woman from one of those well known Philadelphian families.

Carol and I had met walking our dogs. I member that day perfectly. As I happened to have the cutest little female Westie in the world, it shocked me to see another equally good looking specimen in the neighborhood. Mr. Motto was his name and behind him, was Carol, one of the most elegant 70 year old women I had ever met. She was simply classy but casual at the same time. Her body language and verbal expression were the evidence that Carol had received an exquisite education. She was not casual at all, she seemed to have manners that most American women lack these days, but she wasn’t uptight either.

Our dogs inmediately fell in love, and so did we. When Carol and I started to talk I knew it was love at first sight. We immediately became friends and started to have doggie play dates surrounded by tea and great conversation.

Being her friend taught me a lot of things about life, art and business. Not so much about love given the fact that Carol was extremely practical when it came to love. Mr. Harris, her third husband, was pretty much always at work and she did not seem to be bothered by it. She did not pay too much attention to him either when he got home, but she was not rude to him by any means. She simply loved her life with or without him.

She used to say: “Art is the best possible present to ask for. It lasts forever and since each time you acquire a piece is a special moment, over the years, it helps you remember your life better. Do you see all those paintings my dear? (Her walls were all covered) Those paintings were offered to me by my three husbands. Each on a special occasion, Christmas, family trips, birthdays, anniversaries…Whenever I look at a piece I think of that moment of my life, what I was up to back then, what I was feeling, and I remember it vividly. So don’t ask for jewels, they can come to you anyways, see? when a man wants to offer them he does so without you asking. Instead, ask for art, an everlasting treasure that makes a house a home”.

Caral was special, and so was her mother, who lived upstairs and was 94 years old. She had worked as a fashion designer and was now looked after by a full time nurse and Carol herself. Due to her particular temperament, nurses would come and go every so often. One day, I was wearing a Banana Republic t-shirt that, like many t-shirts these days,  had the name of the brand on it. She said to me “Don’t wear that, you look like a billboard” and she was right. Certainly these were two insightful women ahead of their time.

Ever since Caral explained her present theory to me I have been collecting pieces of art myself.  I must say that she knew what she was saying. There is something about paintings and art pieces in general that bring you back in time to the moment of acquisition. As if it had been yesterday. I can remember the details of those days, if it was raining, where I had parked the car, if I had had tea or coffee…do not ask me why that is but it is.

Our dogs continued to play and we continued to talk and became better friends. I was amazed by Caral’s use of technology. At 70 years old, she was a retired publicist from NYC and from what I know, she was a true killer in the industry. She had that fast paced energy from someone who had lived in the the big apple many years. Yet, given her advanced age, I was supraised by how easily she would take in new technology, how she would set up and use the biggest Mac available in the market back then, with which she would restlessly draft a business plan and a website for her third husband,  triplicating the benefits of his dental office in less than a year. She loved making and spending money that is for sure.

Mr. Motto was also twice national Champion by the American Kennel Club. I am not sure if that contest pays well, but my Westie was dating a champion which is what most women wish for. That brought her toys, outfits, treats, training and even doggie massages. They had the fanciest treats and the best trainers in the tristate region coming to Carol´s house to educate them.

By the time she got sick she was about two and her insurance papers were already signed and sitting on my desk to be sent the following Monday. That weekend she vomited while Prince Charming and I were away and Carol had taken her to the animal hospital (just to be on the safe side). There, she was diagnosed with cancer. She was then refused health or treatment coverage from the insurance company, based on a pre-existing condition.

Upon learning the news, Carol extended a check to me and said “Let me handle this. I will keep her and pay for her treatment”. We said no, thank you, and went through financial trouble to pay for her medication until she recovered. Having a sick dog is like having a sick relative. It is exhausting, consuming and expensive. But our dog was young and won the battle.

Then our first son was born and another battle began. If anyone is wondering about breeds I must say something: don’t get terriers if you have small children, terriers like to be the center of attention, they will want to rule because they posess large amounts of self steem so when babies come along and demand too much attention they will hold it against you and make your life more difficult by acting stubborn.

Terriers don’t take second place, at least willingly. They are happy in a home where they get to be king or queen.

If you want a good family dog Golden Retriever sor a Labradors are great options.

Chapter 31. An image is worth a thousand words

It is true, so following the advice of a marketing expert and friend of mine, I have created an Instagram account. There, some of Crocodile’s and Prince Charming’s lifestyle choices are displayed and explained briefly. What they eat, what they wear, the places they visit or their hobbies.

image

I discovered a men’s magazine called Beef! that said that there are about 27 different kinds of men. I have narrowed it down to two. It is bold, I know, but since women all over the world seem to be  having so much fun with these two stereotypical men that appear on the blog, we might as well do it all the way. The account on Instagram is called myboyfriendthecrocodile (no spaces). Most of the images to be found there are linked to some of the episodes, but one needs to be a reader to know that. Other images simply show these two men’s likes and dislikes, hobbies or favorite products.

I will use this medium to add visual content to the chapters, provide more information about Crocodile and Prince Charming, encourage interaction, share some special stories, facts, places and to singest recommendations for things to do or blog-related places to visit.

Chapter 30. Second chances

Second chances in love relationships are known for having a bad reputation, specially when one has disappointed the other person or when one has been unfaithful to the other. Resentment, lack of trust, ego, broken heart or selfesteem get in the way of second chances.

There are millions of couples that breakup for that reason, others break up for alternative reasons but the truth is that unfaithfulness and domestic violence are perhaps the most frequent reasons for a couple to put end to a story. Usually, those couples that stay together after finding out that their partner has been unfaithful do so because they either don’t have the guts to end the relationship or because they don’t have the financial means to do so.

But what if a couple decides to forgive and forget and give themselves another chance after one of them has dissapointed the other? Is it possible for a well established couple to find a new common ground and start over or will resentment prevail?

My friends have decided to give themselves another chance. I was surprised to learn about their decision but after careful consideration, I understood too that it was perhaps the most reasonable option. I can only imagine the heart to heart conversations that they must have had lately. Many couples live together a lifetime without reaching that level of intimacy. It must be difficult to expose yourself to your partner completely and say “I am sorry, I made a mistake please forgive me. I can now say that it is you what I want”.

There are life lessons that can only be learned from experience. Those experiences make you grow as a person and appreciate what you were unable to appreciate before. Falling in love with the wrong person is a big challenge, it’s a personal journey, it makes you face difficult situations and it puts you to the test. Falling in love with the wrong person can in fact help you appreciate your wife, husband or partner more. It is thereby natural for some people to try to get their life back after a faux pas.

When you are in a long relationship from a very young age you can loose track of what you have because as you enter adulthood you discover things about life and about yourself that nobody told you about in college. Maybe you feel like you missed out on something. It is human nature and that is why many high school sweethearts end up splitting and leading different lives. Humans demand for personal growth and that process may push you to experience something different, whatever it is. It is human nature too to want to explore and find out if the grass is actually greener on the other side. Most of the time is not, but few people can spend a lifetime fighting the urge to check it out for themselves. There are so many theories about how we fall in love and why.

More modern couples understand these dilemmas more and more and when faced a challenge of this nature may choose to work on preserving what they have, even after enduring a rough episode. Personal growth is not always an easy task, even less so is couple growth. Recognizing that you have made a mistake is only for the brave, actually forgiving and forgetting other peoples’ mistakes is a gift reserved only for the wise.

People generally say that when it comes to love going backwards it not a good idea. I am not quite sure myself. What is wrong with trying different shoes on only to find out that the ones you had are worn but the perfect fit.

I have said worn not worn out.

Chapter 29. I am no fashion blogger

This Monday morning at 7.50 am I got a message from my cleaning lady saying that she could not come to work because she had to run some errands. Normally this would be no biggie, but since last week I fell off the stairs on a parking lot and sprained my ankle, hearing the sudden news was quite disturbing for me. Upon reading her message, I had to jump out of bed and rush to get the two kids out of the house on time which is challenging enough for any woman on earth but even more so for me being alone and injured. Getting them dressed also means finding their uniforms and backpacks which for whatever reason, my cleaning lady tends to keep in the most strange places.

One day, all of my daughters’ pacifiers were gone. I looked all over the house, in the drawers, in the crib, in the stroller bag…all gone. Finally, I called the cleaning lady and asked her “Amparo, where are the baby’s pacifiers?” “In the blue cupboard madam”. “Of course!” I opened the buffet’s door and there they were. That’s what I am talking about.

Since Monday, I have been calling her and calling her because she had said that she would be back on Monday afternoon and did not show up, she never picked up the phone either, which made me suspicious about the whole thing. Okay I’ll be honest, by the end of the day Monday I was overwhelmed with panic. What am I going to do with all the accumulated garbage from the weekend, the clothes, my doctors appointments, how am I going to teach my English lessons on Friday? Nevertheless, the day went by relatively well. I stayed at home and took care of what I could, one thing at a time.

In the afternoon I picked up my two year old at daycare as usual and ran into the head teacher on her way home. She looked very tired. I don’t blame her, she runs a very busy daycare center and is always the first to arrive, she has two small children of her own and I do not know about her relationship status or if she has any outside help. “I wish I could get home and relax a bit, just for one day”. She said. We made a joyful comment about how women get to have double shifts these days. It is not the first time that this happens and we always take it jokingly when in fact, it is not funny at all.

Ironically enough, the day after was Tuesday, International Women’s Day, and my cleaning lady still wasn’t answering my calls. As I sat on my messy kitchen and had my morning coffee I thought “Hundreds of years later and here we are, still depending on each other to cope with the multiple things that we are supposed to get done because one single person cannot do it all and we want to pretend that we can so we rely on house help or mom to cover gaps for us”.

Men like the double income, some even expect it even when there are small children in the house. But they rarely sit down and say something like “Ok, since we both work we will split the house and children responsibilities evenly”. They put in their two cents, fine, and those who do brag about it “I pick up the kids at school and take them to music lessons while my wife is at work” but let’s be honest, they don’t do nearly as much as women do. And that is fact. Unless of course we are talking about a stay-at-home dad, in which case dad takes care of the kids and their schedules and is seldom pressured by the bread winner wife to take out the Dyson or to earn a dime. But where does that pressure come from? Most of the time from other women. Apparently it is cool to be a stay at home dad, but it is not so cool to be a stay at home mom or to be too successful or too good looking or too thin or too laid back. Why on earth is this?

Going back to the cleaning lady. I need her, I really do. If I want to study to become a teacher for the government (because I had been so busy producing my first husband that I started a business that was only successful only until my first son was born) I need someone to do the house chores. I am not saying that I have the entire day for studying like most male candidates studying for the same position do. No, no, no. I have to take my kids to school, pick them up, take them to extracurricular activities, bathe them, cook dinner for them, make sure that there is food in the house, be around if anyone is coming for house maintenance. All of this while getting dressed reasonably well, and by that I mean putting together outfits with garments that are years old and have nothing to do with the latest trends because unlike what many people tend to think when I mention my blog, I am no fashion blogger. I do not have time for that nor do I like to portray an image of easily accesible luxury to teenagers that will end up frustrated because they can’t be like their favorite bloggers or who, in an attempt to be, will take their parents credit card behind their back and make a real mess to purchase that Celine bag on sale.

Still, relaying on the fact that I used to be a model and nature blessed me with 5.9 inches and a fast metabolism that allows me to eat what I want and still be a size 4 I pull outfits off quite well even with old clothes. Then I have my hair done, apply some make up, nothing much, enough to look like a respectable individual and even that is not possible some days.

When Amparo did not show up nor returned my calls I called the agency and asked for a replacement. Nobody was available so what did I do? I called the crocodile and asked for help.

Upon learning about the situation crocodile saw an opportunity to suggest reducing the number of hours that the cleaning lady renders services at this house. He immediately thought. “Well, it is Tuesday afternoon, she was able to do it for two days, she may as well do it every morning”. He suggested that I woke up even earlier than I already do (7.50 am) so that I would have enough time to get everything ready by the time the kids were up. That appears unfeasible considering that many nights I get up twice in the middle of the night because one of them is sick or has a nightmare and that since living with crocodile, I suffer from insomnia.

I said “No thank you, I will find a replacement” and hung up the phone. Then, I took care of everything in the house myself or course. Upon finishing, I was sweating like a pig and looked terrible. Still in my pijamas, hair undone…, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “This is just wrong”.

So I took a shower and I put together an outfit (as I said, nothing much, I am no fashion blogger but can do wonders with 4 year old pieces of clothing, one or two newer pieces and a couple of nice accessories). Then I took a picture of myself (a selfie) and sent it to crocodile with the following message: “Do you see this woman? To look like this women need some production time. Do you like this type of woman or do you prefer one that stays at home in pjs until is time to go pick up the kids from school and does so wearing leggings and a t-shirt? “I would be happy with a happy housewife” He replied. Just like his mom. But don’t be fooled, stop taking care of yourself and they will go looking for sassiness somewhere else.

My cleaning lady called today. She was down with a flu. Unlike most mothers, she actually gets to take time off when she is not feeling well. She will be back in no time.

Chapter 28. Slow living is back

If I have learned something from experience is that there are alphas and there are fake alphas in the world. Real alphas (men or women) are quieter, they don’t need to be the center of attention or to brag about how much they know, they tend to listen more than they say, either because they don’t want to break a precious silence or simply because they do not want to put the other person to shame by speaking up. They think that they have more to gain and to learn by listening to others and by observing them than by sharing the first thing that comes to their mind. They are usually gentle with other people’s feelings given the fact that their acts and their actions are thought throughly before they occur.

Now that meditation, slow food, slow drinking and slow living is appreciated and fashionable, true alphas can reign since they finally begin to feel at ease with the world. Their appreciation for life is not on the outcome of what we do (mostly because this sort of individuals think that the outcome will be the same regardless of what we do) rather they focus on the moment.

While we were busy with our fast pace lives traveling to places and accomplishing things, documenting our achievements and posting them on Facebook, alphas or older souls (as I think of them) closer to reaching Nirvana were busy going on a much more interesting place, an inner journey. The most exciting place to be, and the scariest.

India is perhaps the only place that I have visited that could be close to having that effect. There is something in the atmosphere that makes us feel uncomfortable and amazed at the same time. The contrast of the big cities like Mombay with the country’s overwhelming slow pace and that of its inhabitants, makes you really wonder about what we are doing with our time.

I remember meeting a girl in the tea plantations of Kerala. Our conversation took place behind a fence because she was working on the farm. When she listened to me and my friends speaking in English she approached me and said “Hello, how are you doing? Are you from America?” “Yes, we come from Philadelphia, how are you? I said “My name is Nizha, pleased to meet you. I spent one year living and studying in California, I got into an exchange program with a scholarship. Now I am back here because my visa expired. I will never be married. I am too poor and I have seen to much according to men of my caste. I hope you enjoy your stay. India is a beautiful country”. And she left smiling on her way to feeding the chickens.

Happy Women’s Day.

Chapter 27. Changing standards

When we were young ladies, let’s say 17, our parents used to tell us to be sensible, to avoid going out with whomever and to wait for the right person to come along. This educational message changes with time, until it becomes absolutely contradictory.

At 37, your mother (who has spent the last 7 years showing increasing anxiety about your relationship status) will set very different standards for you regarding what constitutes a suitable mate. At this point, your fertility is not starting to decline, it’s dropping quickly, and she is well aware of the fact that unless you make a move, you will not become a mother easily and therefore, she won’t become a grandmother either.

Do not be surprised if your mother, your great aunt or your favorite aunt, feel that it is ok to ask you out loud at a family gathering (in front of all of your cousins, their spouses and numerous loud children) if you are ever going to have a baby because “they are so looking forward to see you become a mom, have grandchildren, etc, besides “all of their friends already have grandsons and granddaughters” they say while “they have got nothing to brag about”. At that point, the already embarrassing conversation can become even more so when they go ahead saying things like “You can have it with whomever, nowadays you don’t even need to be serious with the guy, tell him that we will raise the baby if need be, right? [laughter at the table]”.

These sort of awkward moments do happen more often than not. Is it or is it not a contradictory message to a woman who was previously told to have standards? Does she need to forget about them altogether now simply because she is aging?

We must be careful about the messages that we pass to our children because their standards for normality will be based on what we say or do.

Crocodile used to say in front of my six year old “Go help mommy set the table” “Help mommy tidy up your room” “Let’s help mommy with this or that” as if anything that had to do with the house was naturally on my to do list of responsibilities. He would also use a scornful tone of voice whenever he disapproved of something that I would say or do and his tone and manners would only become more derogatory within our own house walls. Very concerning indeed and very bad example for a young boy setting his own standards on how women should be treated. But again, what can you expect from a crocodile raised in Crocodilopolis?

The way that we are educated is the way that we educate our children, unless we make a conscious effort to educate ourselves, set what we have learned to be wrong apart, and make new standards of what constitutes healthy.

Respect, discretion and gender equality would be a good starting point. Parenting and motherhood are a personal choice for men and women alike and setting the table or doing the dishes is no longer mommy’s thing because sharing spaces means sharing responsibilities. How simple is that?

Let bygones be bygones.

Chapter 26. Crocodilopolis

There was a place in Egypt called “Crocodile City” also known as Crocodilopolis. It was a city of worship of (you guessed it) the Crocodile God. The crocodile was adorned with expensive garments and jewels (so he had the largest part of the walk-in California closet), he had his own pond (that he would willingly share with others in order to scape from loneliness) but in his pond his name was written all over it. Since an early age, the Crocodile God had always had special food made for him by his servant, that had raised him and worshiped him in every possible way making sure that he would grow to become a confident ruler, empowered and entitled to all kinds of attention and favors, which he would of course, expect from servants later on.

He lived by false modesty saying things that were applicable to others, but never to him, he was a God after all. He expected perfection when he was indeed imperfect. He expected generosity when he was indeed selfish. He expected frugality when he was extravagant. He expected patience when he was restless.

Crocodile had it so nice that he never dared to go abroad, perhaps because of the potential inconveniences of discovering alternative political arrangements or worlds. This fact considered, Crocodile City never became a big metropolis. Despite being located in one of the most fertile regions alongside the Nile river, it remained a rather second class city until it was eventually replaced by a more modern urban formation.

The inhabitants of Crocodilopolis paid a particular reverence to their God, not because of his supremacy but because he made them dependent on him under false premises. Their jobs, families and prosperity depended on their obeisance. The Crocodile God was very good at buying favors and keeping his servants under control. Under him, servants could reach a certain status and experience an ephemeral sense of well being, but it was given or taken, never a thing of their own.

During their kingdom, which was passed from fathers to sons, Crocodile Gods recruited and surrounded themselves with the best artisans, minds and thinkers, they needed to be exposed to beauty and brilliance to make up for their own shortcomings.

Thankfully, under the pressure and forces of a stronger new Empire, Crocodilopolis ceased to exist.

Chapter 25. Impossible love is more fun

Eccentric couples are more interesting. Cross cultural marriages and different age unions no longer surprise us.

They came in vogue when Bowie married Iman, when Nicole Kidman started dating Tom Cruise. Michael Jackson, Priscilla Presley and Woody Allen consolidated this trend, setting the bar quite high for the rest. Katherine Zeta Jones married Michael Douglas, Aston and Demi did the same. The list is long and continues to expand today even amongst royalty.

From this I conclude that people are looking for challenging projects and “rare” animals to domesticate that make their lives more interesting, entertaining, unique and meaningful. We are looking for a meaningful existence.

Movies have always contributed to the trend of impossible love stories. Think of Tarzan and Jane, King Kong and Anne, Pocahontas and John Smith, Aladdin and Jasmine, and of course, Crocodile Dundee (Mike) and Susan, last but not least, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Yes, impossible love stories make better blockbusters. We want to believe in their feasibility.

Most of those couples were unlikely to stick together and if they did, they probably had to work really hard for it. The reason, always the same: cultural differences.

You don’t need to marry into another country to marry into another culture. You don’t even need to marry into another culture to marry into another culture. Simply try marrying someone 25 years younger or older than you or marry into a family with different political views or different level of education or something as simple as a different zip code or region. Any of these factors suffice to have challenging family gatherings.

When choosing a partner some people are looking for compatibility of characters and hobbies and values while others feel more attracted to the opposite pole which explains why nice girls from nice families have always had a tendency to fall for the rebel kid in high school.

But when you are a middle age woman you understand that life is challenging enough, so your partner or the person that you choose to create a family should not add more stress to the party. Rather, the sensible thing would be for your family or couple to provide a sense of comfort and a refuge from the harsh outside world. But after a while, we find that boring and unfulfilling.

Charles Dickens, known as the urban writer, had a feeling for human character. He lived during the Victorian era and Victorians were great cultivators of family life. Dickens described the family as “the subculture where the distressed can ultimately find hope and refuge from the ruthlessness of society at large” so why would we want to take a crocodile home for that matter? or a guy like Tarzan? Why would we want to fall for the rebel of the class and expect him to become the perfect companion or father to our children later on? No, women at a certain age should know better than that. And yet we don’t.

There are way too many successful middle age women dating impossible projects and adding more stress to their naturally stressful lives. There are way too many women complaining about the lack of rush in their marriages, the lack of excitement and claiming more individuality in their relationship. The same can be said for men who have beautiful loving wives and still feel the need to have an affair with pretty much whomever.

Could it be that we want the excitement and the comfort at the same time?