I flew to Philadelphia, then took the Acela Express to New York City. I usually write when I am traveling. On this trip I watched. At my airport gate there was a slight young brunette with 5-inch heels and skinny jeans. Her “significant other” (I use the term loosely) was leafing through a copy of Maxim. Apparently fresh from the gym, he wore a tank top and sweat pants. In the 10 minutes I watched, not once did Mr. Biceps even glance in the girl’s direction, though she talked to him the entire time. I later watched them board the flight. Guess who got on first, and did not help lift her bag into the overhead bin? I see this a lot. You do too. Her face was so fresh and young and vulnerable.
I took a cab from the Philadelphia airport to 30th Street Station. When I boarded the train I took a seat directly across from an attorney traveling from Washington to New York, briefs scattered over his fold-down tray. He had a square jaw, wavy salt and pepper hair and a gray Brooks Brothers suit. He definitely belonged on the train from DC to New York. Seated next to him was a statuesque blond in Ralph Lauren. At first I assumed she was sitting with her boss. Then she leaned her head on his shoulder, not in a daughter-father kind of way. He did not stop tap, tap, tapping on his laptop. He hunched up his shoulder until she had no choice but to lift her head and settle back into her seat. He never spoke to her during the entire 60-minute trip. Same story, different socioeconomic group.
I sometimes imagine a God who gave birth to all of this matter and energy, then pretty much left it alone to raise itself. I know how God felt. You get tired constantly stepping in to resolve your children’s bickering. Eventually you just say, “As long as no limbs are severed, I’ll let them work this out on their own.” So God stood back and watched God’s “child” unfold. Then God said to himself and herself (that being Jesus and the Spirit), “Uh oh, I was kinda hoping the male humans would evolve beyond the elk, but it doesn’t look promising. We’re gonna have a lot of explainin’ to do.”
About a decade ago an article in Psychology Review said men and women respond differently to stress. Men resort to the “fight or flight” syndrome, while women prefer to “tend and befriend.” In times of stress they tend to relationships and befriend others (primarily women) who can provide emotional support.
On my trip I saw neither “fight or flight” nor “tend and befriend.” From the men I saw “bore and ignore” and from the women I saw a willingness to be “dissed and dismissed.” After all, what would cause a woman to be willing to sit in figurative coach while her “man” (again, using the term lightly) sits comfortably in cultural first class, assuming she will answer his every beck and call? It is 2014. There is something wrong with this picture.
I felt badly for the leggy blond and skinny brunette. Did someone not tell them who they were? I am learning a lot. A lot.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Ryan Stavely