Who's Listening?

You see, I assume people are telling the truth. But the world in general assumes--almost has to assume--that everybody everywhere always lies.
I'm 54. I weigh 146 pounds. I love my husband. My son is intelligent, but since he is 15, he has the social graces of an 8-year-old. And now since I am asserting these various "facts" in a non-fiction piece, which one (or ones) will you begin to doubt? "146--who is she kidding? And when a 54-year-old woman says straight out that she loves her husband, in my experience, that means she has successfully hen-pecked him into some minimally acceptable format and she's proud of her handiwork." Yadda, yadda, yadda.
When I was a young woman, I noticed that no one listened, actually listened, to what I said and I wondered if it was just me they weren't listening to. But it wasn't. Men don't really listen to women, they are too distracted by the amazing way their lips move--"Ooh! look at that! Look how when she says the letter 'O'--shit--what's she saying? Do I need to listen to this part? Has she gotten to the part where we spar about where she'll consent to do the dirty deed? No? I'll check back later, shall I?" And that's if they're looking at you at all.
Women don't really listen to other women because they know that at least 75% of what they themselves say is just a  litany of social anxiety and all you need to do is contradict whatever comes out of their mouths, just to reassure them--"Does my ass look too big in these pants? I thought the pink ones went better with the lipstick I was wearing at the time. What do you think? Oh, you agree? Oh, goody, I thought they went better, but I wasn't sure. Are you sure? Really? Are you sure sure? Or are you just agreeing to make me feel better? No, I really want to know, because I'd love it if you agreed, and of course I'd feel better if you truly agreed, and I'd be absolutely devastated if you didn't agree, because I already spent the $79.99, but what do you really think? Now truly . . . " It sends you mad, that. And I don't really like doing it, and yet I have done it, from time to time. Agreed, that is, when she looked like a big pink rubber eraser.
But it wasn't just me the men weren't listening to. Or the women. They weren't listening to anybody. Men can't listen to beautiful women because the beauty is like a stun gun. They can't listen to ugly women because--why? In-between women--there are no in-between women. Men don't like to listen to other men either, unless forced to by the hierarchy they find themselves trapped in and then they only pretend to listen to those higher than they are, while plotting to use this boring info being passed to jump over their heads. Anyone higher up in the hierarchy who can force them to stand there and listen is someone they already hate and are planning to circumvent. Anyone else is just yammering on about the statistics of choice and who gives a shit about boring stuff like baseball or rockets or horse racing? That's way boring. Now golf ball trajectories--that's fascinating stuff. Let me explain it to you. Depending on the force of your swing and the wind speed--well, you know.
And women can't listen to men because--now, do I really have to explain this to you? You don't know this yourself? You're kidding, right? Okay, okay, okay, you asked for it. Golf is BORING. Baseball is BORING. Cloud chambers are BORING. Investments, real estate, wine, pork bellies, the length of your penis, the fact that at the age of 47 you are STILL obsessed about the length of your penis--all BORING! And for exactly one reason. You're kidding, right? You really don't know this? Because it's not about ME. Or someone I know personally, or a celebrity I like. Or about how to lose weight quickly and effectively without any effort on my part. Oh, don't tell me about the exercise. I'm not going to do that. Or the part where you change the way you eat. I can't do that. It's just mean of you to even suggest...
And of course, by the time anyone is 54, they have gone through several phases of self-selling and have had to reorganize themselves and all their component parts so many times that whatever tenuous hold they used to have on who they are, or were, and what they want, even what would be minimally acceptable at this point, has gone through some serious slippage by now. Self-selling. That's right. To get into college, those personal essays. To get a job, several jobs, the resume. To convince some baboon to out with you. To lure him over from some troop of baboons clustered around the bar. To convince him not to leave you. To explain to him how sorry he'll be if he does. To convince a totally different baboon that you are in fact the perfect one for him--the only one--see? Look at my mouth when it makes the letter 'O.' Yes. That's what it will look like wrapped around your . . .
Anyway, strangely enough, when I was younger I still believed that one major reason people didn't listen to me was that I was too young to actually know anything worth listening to. But no. I have found that as time slipped past, faster and ever faster, that the more knowledge I accumulated, the more my opinion on things became worth seeking out, finally, the less time I was accorded to air it. In fact, when I was young and at least fresh-faced if not beautiful, people turned toward me and kept quiet for a short time while searching my face for the exact degree of beauty they could wring out of it. That pretending to listen was the price they were willing to pay to examine you thoroughly. And decide how to categorize you. Is she jolie ? or maybe just jolie laid ? I have to think about this some more. "Ah, yes, I see. Can you give me another example of . . . make that 3 examples of . . . Now, what are you talking about, again?"
Now, as a woman of 54, I can safely say that I am easily categorized in 10 seconds flat and as a result, am not allowed a second sentence before most people's eyes glaze over and shift to someone else's twinkling little ass cheeks over my right shoulder. And I suppose I should be angry about it and stomp my little no-longer-young feet and take this kind of treatment personally. But I can't. By now you've maybe noticed I require more than 10 seconds to get warmed up and rolling.
And, yeah, 146 is on a good day. Not today, of course. Never today.

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