Jane's Guide to the Male Psyche

Not too long ago A&E decided to run a Sylvester Stallone marathon over the weekend. Mark and I happened to turn it on during Rocky II, and since neither of us had seen it and both of us had work we were trying to avoid, we went ahead and watched.

And as we did, I realized just how much I'd come to understand the masculine mind.

The plot centers on a fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed, the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Rocky knows the fight will bring in a lot of money for his struggling family, but he's doubting his ability to beat the champ -- doubting his ability to even stand toe to toe with him and walk away intact. He explains this to his wife, Adrian, and she says, and I quote,

"You have nothing to prove."

Brutal! Adrian, baby. Tell me you didn't just say that.

Now, before my marriage I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have heard that line as such a slap in the face. But living with a dude for six years seems to have had more of an effect on me than I realized. For those of you who don't speak Man, allow me to translate that exchange into Woman for you.

Rocky: Do these jeans make my butt look fat?
Adrian: I love you just the way you are.

Brutal! Do you notice how Adrian did not tell Rocky that his butt didn't look fat? How she skirted the whole issue at hand with that namby-pamby "I love you" crap? Why would she do a thing like that? Did she honestly think Rocky wouldn't notice?

The only possible response when your wife says "Do these jeans make my butt look fat?" is "Hell, no!" And the only possible response when your husband asks you "Do you believe I can do this?" is "Hell, yes!"

Because just like we chicks want our men to view us as supermodels, guys want their women to view them as Superman. This isn't always easy, especially if the thing your man wants to do is something you'd really prefer he didn't. This is Adrian's problem; she'd much rather Rocky get a nice, simple job that doesn't involve being repeatedly punched in the face.

Which of course is what happens in the final fight. And this, Mark explained to me, is why boxing is a representation of the essential male struggle. It's not about delivering the beatdown; it's about taking the beating. And then finding the faith in yourself you need to get up again. That's Rocky's final victory: not over the champ, but over his own self-doubt.

What strange, beautiful creatures these men are! I think they may be worthy of further study.

Baby Needs a New Car

So, it's official. The insurance company totaled my Beetle.

The Beetle was a good car, and I'm sorry to see it go. But it wasn't perfect. It was a bit too small in the back for passengers. Two doors aren't as convenient as four. And it was seriously behind in cupholder technology.

So instead of heading right back over to Volkswagon, I'm shopping for a new car. I've long been annoyed by the lack of feminine cars on the market. Everything always looks so generic, and every car seems to be available in just red, blue, dark blue, black, silver, and white. Why not jade green? Champagne? Pink, or maybe even purple?

Just like I don't want a big, shapeless black purse, I don't want a car that's totally lacking in style or femininity. I want a girl's car.

As with a diamond, I'm interested in the four C's. Not color, clarity, carat, and cut. But these:


(The carseats are for my as-yet-nonexistant children. Specifically, I'm looking for a car that can hold at least two of them.)

The first one I tried out was a Toyota Yaris. From the cutesy name, the bubbly body, and the whimsical commercials, I had concluded that the Yaris was a car designed specifically to appeal to women. About time.

The trouble is, it's a car made for women, designed by men. I can pretty much tell you how it all went down:

Toyota Engineer A: What do women like anyway?
Toyota Engineer B: I dunno. Buncha stupid boxes that are too small to hold anything.

And thus the Yaris was born.

There are about fifty million secret little cubbyholes scattered across the dashboard. Ok, seriously, there's about seven. And while I can stash my sunglasses in one and a hairbrush in another, at some point I run out of little things to stash. Hey, Toyota: How about a drawer under the back seat big enough to fit a blanket? That's a cubby hole I'd love to have in a car.

The Yaris just felt all... stupid inside. The silly little cubbies weren't exactly a problem, but I felt they kind of indicated a lack of effort on the part of the designers. Like they just came up with a single idea and ran it through production without ever bothering to polish it, or even ask themselves if it was a good idea. Another area where this was evident was the speedometer, which was located above the center of the dashboard rather than on the driver's side so it would be "easier for me to see."

So we left Toyota, to the great despair of the salesmen who badly wanted to make a sale. And headed over to Honda.

Getting a look at the Honda Fit after driving a Yaris was like picking up an I-Phone after spending all afternoon dealing with Windows Vista. Like an I-Phone, the Fit just had an aura of pride in workmanship and attention to detail. Despite being little and cute, it will carry plenty of cargo -- you could even stow some blankets under those rear seats! And it's definitely a woman's car -- heck, it comes in purple!

So I think I've found my car. I'm skipping the purple in favor of a very bright, flirty blue, but I feel good about the fact that I'm buying a car that must have been made with women in mind. Whenever I see a new prodcut I think is a really great idea, I like to buy it if I can -- that way the manufacturers know they're doing something right, and if you're really lucky eventually the rest of the industry catches on.

New Scenes

As revealed in my last post, I am adding ten new scenes to my book during the revision process. They are:

1. Kitty Meets Fiore
2. The Magic Playhouse
3. Nino Says No
4. Aunt G, Kidnapper at Large
5. Big Boss Man
6. Lawyer Up
7. Getting an Earful
8. Gladys Takes a Licking
9, All Molled Up

and last, but definitely not least:

10. Cold Date

Good News, Bad News

Good News: I've finished my Comprehensive List of Revisions to Make.

Bad News: It's long.

Good News: I am adding ten scenes and eliminating four. The extra six should easily make up the additional five thousand words I want to add to the book's length.

Bad News: I have to write them.

Good News: There is now nothing to do but just sit down and write.

Bad News: There is now nothing to do but just sit down and write.

Character of the Day

It's time for another character from the Deck of Many Things.

Virtue: Crafty

Flaw: Insipid

Dude, what is the deal here? Last time I pulled Skilled/Incompetent? And this time it's Crafty/Insipid?

Not to be deterred, I soldier on.

Jamie Lynn Jameson

Sixteen-year-old blonde bombshell and pageant queen. Loves kittens, curling irons, and unicorn stickers. Extremely good at manipulating pageant politics to the detriment of other contestants.

Major Mannerism: Keeping the pageant world spinning with intrigue. Although Jamie Lynn does not appear to be a particularly influential member of this social circle, she uses small comments and subtle hints to manipulate all the friendships and alliances of the other pageant participants. She has currently divided them into two major camps, and while they expend their efforts on trying to sabotage one another, she is able to soar to victory unnoticed.

Manifesto Monday: Mistakes

Last Saturday I was on the way to the bookstore to score some new reading material for the weekend. I never got there.

Right after I pulled onto the highway, the car started shuddering. Bad. Ok, I thought, you just have to make it to the next exit. Then you can call Mark to come get you and everything will be all right.

Except it didn't turn out like that. Instead my tire went out, forcing the car to spin across two lanes of traffic. I bounced off the median a couple of times and came to a rest with half the car on the shoulder and half in the left-most lane.

And I was fine. Just fine. Not a scrape, not a bruise. The car is toast, but apart from that the only consequence is this lingering feeling I have that I did something terribly, terribly wrong.

So here's today's Manifesto Monday: Three Things I Believe about Mistakes.

1. I believe I was morally responsible for that accident.

I wasn't being malicious, but I did make a very bad judgment call. I should have pulled over right away, or at least put on my flashers and slowed way down. Failing to do so was a big deal; there were other people on the road, and I could have hurt them.

I could write it off by saying "I didn't mean for that to happen." Or I can go ahead and take responsibility from it and learn from it. To me, that seems like the right thing to do.

2. I believe that initial remorse is important, but lingering guilt is a Very Bad Thing.

You should feel bad when you cause harm or nearly do so -- but not forever. Long-lasting guilt seems to me like it's often more about hurting yourself than actually "getting right" with the world. And no matter how badly you've screwed up, hurting yourself is just not good because:

3. I believe that redemption doesn't come through punishment, nor through doing good to compensate for the wrong you've done. I believe redemption comes from learning to be a better person.

I'm pretty sure this belief of mine is rather uncommon, but to me it just feels... right. Punishment as a path to redemption feels kinda pointless to me; it doesn't add anything good to the world. And compensating for your mistakes is sometimes impossible.

But learning to be a better person is never beyond your reach. I don't want to imply that it's an easy thing to do in all cases, but it's always possible.

So that's Manifesto Monday for today. Oh, yeah, one more thing:

4. I believe I need a new car.