I stopped believing in fairytales some time ago…back when I thought Parasuco jeans, painted against the bottom half of my figure 8, were my greatest asset. Much has changed since then. Parasucos are not cool and both halves of my figure 8 are now padded with cocktail calories and late night snacks. I stopped seeing Valentine’s Day through rose-colored glasses and started to think chivalry and roses alike were as real as the characters in my favorite chick flick. Regardless of how well I knew them or how clearly I could see them on my High Definition LED TV screen, they weren’t real… Contrary to my cynicism however, the little girl within me still held a candle for the kind of man my grandmother married at 17 and stayed with until death about 60 years later. It’s funny how we want and expect things that we don’t believe in.
Women, myself included, have a habit of setting standards even we can’t commit to. They’re most often a direct contradiction to everything we claim to want. I have a friend who says, “I want an old-fashioned husband with traditional values,” but will then say, “I’ve been running my house and my life for 10+ years; I wish he would…” Which one is it? I dare to consider the possibility that my rose-colored glasses were tinted with doubt long before men escaped the chopping block for speaking and opening doors for unappreciative, officious women who are more interested in the generosity of some abusive athlete’s red-bottom, twitter give-a-way. I started thinking that maybe chivalry isn’t dead, but in witness protection instead.
Coretta Scott King and my grandmother both married men of long-standing power and authority, during a time when there was no time for games. Men and women of the 50’s were too busy fighting against color lines to allow grey areas the opportunity to fade out what really mattered. It seems that despite their troubles and all of their busy-ness, their ability to prioritize love, family, marriage and respect remained intact. The love-wrought account of Martin Luther King Jr.’s pursuit of the late Coretta Scott makes it easy to scrutinize our misinformed, ill-advised and impatient “friends-with-benefits” for not finding us worthy of well-versed love letters, lengthy phone calls and well-intended visits; but I don’t recall any account where he (MLK) “benefitted” from his “friendship” with Coretta. There’s a mutual responsibility here that can be easily overlooked.
Dr. King courted a preoccupied Coretta Scott King, who knew who she was, long before her future husband entered the picture. Her prudence and confidence complimented the works of a purpose-driven leader who knew what he wanted and could provide. Having laid the proper foundation, both of them involved and regarded the council of their parents. Coretta Scott King was fiercely independent, as documented throughout decades of personal, professional and political achievement, but she limited that autonomy to the tolerable confines or her relationship, prioritizing the marriage. Having done so, they were able to surpass the trivial ideology, from which we currently suffer, and graduated to realize the bigger picture – on a universal level.
Our daddy issues and inferiority complexes, to no initial fault of our own, challenge the way we see and handle men, whose positions and familial identities have been weakened. We’re both working on opposing issues that we fail to communicate to one another. As a result, our microwaved needs (which require a slow stove-top simmer) are materialized, diminished and half-baked. We (women) see our girlfriends or reality TV friends getting red-bottom gifts and blue boxes, and we internalize that as love and worthiness. So we desire and request those things instead of taking the time to learn ourselves, dismount our high horses and communicate our need to feel appreciated and of equal value to our real-life and TV girlfriends (whose men may or may not be worth the paper this is printed on).
There are many men who have a lot of growing up to do, many of whom will unfortunately be the practice we haven’t realized we need. But hoping for love we don’t believe in will perpetuate our inability to mature into the lovers we must become, in order to get and keep the love we expect. So, we can’t disassociate ourselves from the responsibility we hold in the procurement of the relationships we desire. Rose-colored glasses and red bottom heels are like any other accessory; know what statement you’re making.