When I first started going out with Dr. Higher, I didn't want him to do anything for me (this was, in part, a minor outcropping of a larger problem: I wanted to be good at everything). I once mentioned this in therapy, and the therapist asked me why. I said - and this was truly how I felt - "Because what if someday he leaves me, or we break up? Then I'll be left not knowing how to do the stuff I let him do for me." My therapist said, "Well, I suppose it's possible you could end up all alone on a desert island, but if that doesn't happen, there'll probably be someone around who can help you do those things, and other things as well. You don't have to know how to do everything." I decided this was a pretty good point, actually, and that I needed to try loosening up. One of the things Dr. Higher really loved, and really loved doing for me, was dealing with the computer. So I let him advise me on what computer to buy, and then I let him organise the computer once I had it: for example, I would get him to come in the room whenever I wanted to get music off the internet, and he'd call up the site for me. Very handy.
And what do you think happened? I suspect, gentle reader, you can guess the end of this story: we broke up. And there I was left knowing by seeing that I should buy a Mac (they really are clearly better), but not knowing how to do anything with it. My immediate response was to say that I knew I was right! I knew it! I never should have handed anything over to him to handle. My second response was to figure out how to do some stuff on/with the computer, and just let the other stuff go.
Now, however, I have many male friends, and those male friends know how to do things like find the I-assure-you-perfectly-legal-music-downloading site, and get the Mac to do cool things. And you know what? I'm perfectly happy to have them tell me how to do those things, or (even better) just do them for me.
In my life, I have a very short list entitled Stuff Men Should Do - sometimes it's entitled Things Men Should Do, but the meaning is the same. The list includes a bunch of things I just plain don't like doing, and/or don't want to do (e.g., Men should take out the trash - I HATE taking out the trash), but it also includes a small number things that I legitimately believe men should do:
Stuff Men Should Do
1. Take the car in for repairs.
2. Look up all the boring stuff about computers and stuff on the web, and also implement it.
3. I think there's another one in there that I can't remember.
My reasoning behind these things is, I believe, sound. Most car repair shops are staffed by men, and most of those men respect and communicate better with men than they do women. If I take my car in, the chances of my knowing whether or not the repair suggested is valid is pretty small (although not that small), and the chance of my feeling that I might be being cheated, or of my actually being cheated, is pretty large. If a man takes the car in, the men in the repair shop will probably be clearer with him, and because they will respect him more they will be less likely to try to put one over on him. On the computer front, let's face it: most men love learning all those things about RAM and GB and how to make all the icons on your computer dance when you click on them - the stuff that's quite useful or cool once it's up and working, but super-super-dull to me to sort out. So, yes, Men Should Do these Things (or that Stuff).
But now I tell you something that is true, but that also, if not exactly a secret, at least would be surprising, I think, to most people who know me: I love having men do those things. In fact, at certain times, and if it's done in the right way, I love having men do quite a lot of stuff for me (take the DVD out of my fumbling hands and hold it; turn me gently in the right direction when I get lost; pour my wine, or take the glass out of my hand and do it for me). (The right way to do these things, incidentally, is gently, as if you were being supportive rather than bullying.) It doesn't have to do with wanting to be saved, or taken care of by being taken over. Rather, it has to do with the sense it gives me that someone is...um...covering for me: recognising my areas of weakness and helping me out with them. That is, it gives me a sense that someone is In It With Me, and wants to help me out -- and that in turn gives me a sense that someone male cares about me enough to want to help me out, to make my life easier, which is a very lovely feeling indeed. Also, I do so much by myself and for myself these days. I make all the decisions about what I do, do all the organising, make sure everything is going smoothly. It's just nice not to have to do that sometimes.
So here is a Good Thing about Boys: they will do the stuff that you find a drag, like setting up the computer and carrying the pizza. (They may berate you for not wanting to do that stuff, but in a weird way I don't mind that berating if it's brief and low-level: it's a sign of connection.) And here's another Good Thing about Boys: they often know about lots of gadgety stuff that makes life easier. And here's another Good Thing about Boys: they are quite good at making practical suggestions and "handling things" (this is sometimes irritating, as they often do the latter when you don't want them to, but I would say the positive emotional aspects outweigh the negative ones, here, so it deserves a place as a Good Thing about Boys). And here's another Good Thing about Boys: lots of them are just nice, and capable, and, actually, good in a crisis.
And for all that I say, Thank you, boys.