"You don't need a husband honey, you need a Man Friday," he told me in a friendly yet matter-of-fact tone. Ouch! That was as candid as it could get.
The one-line assessment came at the end of a conversation where he was subtly trying to gauge my interest in dating. He was, in retrospect, a good Mr Possible. And I was, well... myself. So when he asked me casually if I was looking to date someone, I immediately said 'Yes'. And then ranted about how nice it would be if I had a man who could book movie tickets for a change, fix my light-bulb, drive me out of town etc etc. Yes, it came across as terribly selfish but there was a reason why I blurted out this truth: I was going through a phase where I was rather tired of my gal pals cooing, "Oh my husband/boyfriend does it for me" when I asked them tips on anything, be it planning a travel or dealing with a difficult landlord. These women did not have to deal with half the stresses we did, because their "husbands/boyfriends did it for them". Well, good for them though they didn't realise how annoying it sounded when they'd turn to their hubbies for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, all the time!
Just because we, the SIWs (single, independent women - acronym, mine) were smart, managed a home, a tough job, horrible neighbours, skeptical society and blah blah, it didn't mean we had to e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g alone all the time, did it? In a relationship, men do these things for their girls without asking, don't they? And that's also one of the reasons why we look for a partner in life, right? To make the process of living, easier?
The simple truth dawned on me much later that men expect women to spell it out, loud and clear, that they are looking for care, comfort, companionship and all those wonderful things. Even if the truth is that a lot of women out there are looking for Mr Fix-its.
Mr Possible's judgement led to a round of introspection. I realised that being supremely independent had its pitfalls for women. Most of the time, you wear the badge of 'hey I don't need anyone, I am a superwoman' attitude with pride. And it is not a put-on because every working single woman goes through three stages of independence - financial (when you start earning your own moolah), physical (when you learn to drive around or travel alone or fix a damn remote) and finally, emotional (when you learn to mask a heartbreak or get over an ex!). In the process, you, consciously or subconsciously, learn the smaller things in life as well - how to hunt for a house, how to negotiate rent, how not to be cheated by credit card guys, how to save money etc etc and more etc. In simple parlance, they are called, "living skills" (as opposed to "life skills"). Once you master all these skills, you don't feel the "need" for a man who, in a conventional set-up, takes these responsibilities upon himself. (In a modern, liberal set-up, needless to say, these tasks are shared.)
However, the flip side is that after a lot of independence, at times, you want to feel dependent! You want someone to do some small things for you. For instance, I can unabashedly say that I am terrible at all things electronic. Gadgets, computers, TVs hate me, and vice-versa. I feel like hitting my head against a wall when I get a DIY kit from IKEA and spend hours trying to figure out how to DI. And I wish at least on a rare occasion, I can land up at the cinema hall knowing that the tickets have been taken care of. So, there have been times when I have said aloud to no one in particular, "Damn, I need a man in my life to get these things done." Problem is, it comes across as a call for a house help (as he alleged) than a husband. Now, which man would like to hear that?
I am sure it's the same for a man. Imagine a man saying, 'Damn, I need a woman to clean up the mess in my bachelor pad, cook something special and welcome me home, split my bills, water the plants, take turns in driving..." Imagine how we'd react to him! 'WTF? Does he need a maid or wife?' 'How regressive! ' So on and so forth.
We all want to date for the right reasons - warmth, love companionship and all those mushy emotions. But righteousness aside, there are also the practical tasks for which a man and woman need each other. Honestly, doesn't it feel great if your man can fix the TV or your woman can cook and clean (or the other way round in these gender-sensitive times!)? So why deny it? Is there something wrong in wanting your partner to shoulder some of these mundane responsibilities along with the emotional ones? No, there isn't. What is wrong is (as I learnt later), being honest about them.
So singles, even if these are your expectations from a man or woman, don't articulate them, lest you come across as callous. And even if you are, just shut up. Don't mention it aloud and spoil whatever chances you may have.
Meanwhile, I am still looking for that goddamn TV manual...