Sittin’ on the beach
The island king of love
Deep in Fijian Seas
Deep in some blissful dream
Where the goddess finally sleeps In the lap of her lover
Subdued in all her rage
And I’m aglow with the taste of the demons driven out
And happily replaced with the presence of real love
The only one who saves
What really defines a Stuckey-chick? My friends can always point to a girl in a bar or restaurant and say, “There’s a Stuckey-chick!” They’re almost always right, insofar as physical attractiveness. But what happens beyond that? Am I really so shallow that looks matter? I don’t think I am, but I can’t deny that looks are the first thing I notice about a woman.
I’ve made a list a mile long of things I want in a woman, and yet I always date women that I know don’t meet the requirements. Worse yet, I always seem surprised to find out that I’m going to break up with them. Over the weekend, I did some thinking about the common traits of these women, in order to get a better definition of what I saw in them.
The very first girl I ever dated was reserved, almost shy. She was a little older than me, and we had some great times. She was also very conservative, and I was very outspoken… so I felt like I had to censor myself around her. This was completely stupid on my part, I see that now, but it led to me breaking it off with her.
The second girl was quite the opposite. She was outspoken, opinionated, and lots of fun. We dated for over two years and were to the point where I knew it was time to either propose or walk away. Fool that I am, I walked away. I didn’t want to marry the very first girl that I was in love with because I didn’t want to find myself in my 40s and curious about other women. Sometimes, in a bout of self-loathing, I will look back on her as The One That Got Away and curse myself for making that decision.
The girl after her was The Temptress. If you’ve ever had a relationship based purely on sex, know that this was mine. She was selfish, arrogant, dishonest… but absolutely amazing in bed. She was also needy, high-maintenance, and insecure. How can one person be arrogant and insecure all at once? I don’t know, but she pulled it off. She got four months of my life before I realized that I would never want to marry this woman.
After her was The Hippie, a free spirit if I’ve ever known one. She was a friend who needed a place to get away from the heroin scene in New York City, and I had a spare room. It didn’t take long for her to move from the spare room into mine. The Hippie hid her insecurity by throwing her entire being into everything. It was like I was dating an obsessive-compulsive fun-seeker. It was a great two and a half years, but we realized that we were more like brother and sister than boyfriend and girlfriend.
Next came a series of insecure women, most of whom possessed a metal illness. Clinical Depression, Bipolar, Borderline Personality… my love life was like a soap opera filmed at a mental health clinic.
So what do all these women have in common? I could list of things like insecurity and neediness, but I’ve finally realized that I’m asking the wrong question. Or rather, I’m answering it incorrectly. What they have in common is me, and the way that they made me feel.
I was raised in the South, by a man I admire more than any other, to be a Southern Gentleman. This doesn’t mean that I sit on my front porch with a pipe during the Spring Cotillion, but it does mean that I see it as my duty to help women whenever I can, to take care of them, to be their shoulder to cry on, their sounding board, their rock.
I have been an enabler for these women, offering them what I thought was help when what they actually needed was help from someone professionally qualified. I enjoyed the feeling of being helpful, of being needed, of being the reason that they smiled or laughed whenever they were depressed. I’ve been a caretaker for them, and that is just about the most emotionally draining thing I can imagine, which is why I had to walk out on them in the end.
So what needs to change? I can already hear at least one of my friends telling me that I shouldn’t have to change and that I should be who I am, but that friend is wrong. I shouldn’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t change who I am. I’m not talking about turning into Nice Ass here. I’m talking about no longer trying to be someone’s sole reason for smiling. I’m talking about helping someone find the help the really need instead of trying to become that help. I’m talking about minor changes in the way that I think and act.
Tear up the calendar you’ve bought
And throw the pieces to the sky
Confetti falling down like rain
Like a parade to usher in your life
Take the dreams that should have died
The ones that kept you lying awake
When you should’ve been all right
And throw em all away
-Toad the Wet Sprocket
So I’m taking my list or requirements, my preconceived notion of Her, and the stereotype of the Stuckey-chick and I’m throwing it all away. When I get home today, I will tear more than twenty pages from a journal of poetry, each one about some incarnation of Her, and I will burn them. Living in the past has no future. As for the future, I will make a new, simpler list:
I want a woman who smiles and laughs for me, but not only for me. I want a woman who can make me smile and laugh, in addition to everything else that makes me smile and laughs. I want a woman who makes me feel like I’m needed, but not like I’m all that she needs. I want a woman that I feel like I need, in addition to everything else in my life. It won’t hurt if she has gorgeous eyes, but I’m not going to exclude someone if she doesn’t.
I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what’s best
I want a girl with shoes that cut
And eyes that burn like cigarettes
Sittin’ on the beach