After amazing veggie eggs benny at The Bread Peddler with J Hustle on her 24th birthday, I dipped into the Farmers’ Market on the way home because flowers for the wife makes for a nice life.
As I approached the stand, I saw a dude getting some beautiful sweet peas mixed with purple dahlias. A stylish hippy bouquet, perfect for my stylish, natural woman. After he paid, I said, “I’ll have the exact same.” A few minutes later, after scratching my signature on her iPad, she turned to a woman to the left of me and said, “You were waiting weren’t you?” Why she didn’t turn to her before helping me I am not sure.
Shit. I’m not sure I even saw her. So I said, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you.” To which she replied, “Yes you did.” Ouch. The fact of the matter is the man in front of me blew her off and I mindlessly followed his lead. That’s not an excuse, I hate getting cut off, so I was supe apologetic. “No, I really didn’t, I’m really sorry.” By now a second, also sixtyish woman, had materialized. “Men! What are you going to do?” she said to her aggrieved soul sister.
Upon further thought, I think I did see her, but I wrongly assumed she was just thinking through whether to make a purchase or not. Obviously, I should have checked with her. And of course, if I didn’t see her, that’s even worse.
I had just hit the ATM so I was flush with cash money. I thought to myself hell if I’m going to drag my gender even further down some cosmic sinkhole at the Olympia Farmers’ Market! Without Aggrieved Soul Sister hearing me, I told the flower salesperson I was going to buy her flowers*. Immediately afterwards, kid you not, my upset fellow human being grabbed a large bucket of dahlias and asked the salesperson how much all of them would be. Immediately, the salesperson shot me a big smile which communicated, “Women ONE, Men ZERO!” She counted the flowers and did the math while I braced myself for the economic redistribution to come. $28. As I handed her two twenties Aggrieved Soul Sister said, “No way, please give it to someone that needs it.” I insisted telling the salesperson to “Just give me $12 back.” Soul Sister protested again, at which point, not wanting to be too aggressive a male, I caved.
I think she and the other two women appreciated the effort. At least I hope.
Antipathy for males in society is deep-seated. Most of it is deserved, but in rightly deconstructing and criticizing toxic masculinity we have to be very careful of writing off the gender. Sometimes we run that risk when it comes to rightly criticizing men who treat others inhumanely.
Occasionally, we have to point out that some men are conscious of male privilege, don’t sexually abuse women, aren’t all ego all the time, don’t talk over women, and can even talk about emotions and admit when they’re wrong.
However, as a male, I’m not the best person or blogger to do this. Were I to start cheerleading for sensitive and caring men in the interest of some semblance of balance, it would come across as disingenuous. Kind of like a President saying “I’m the least racist person in the world.” Better that some women sporadically weave occasional, alternative, positive stories of men behaving humanely to create a more subtle, nuanced, and complex feminist narrative.
*sigh, of course sharing this story with you diminishes it, a price I’m willing to pay for just a wee bit more blogging glory