"If I Were John Steinbeck I Would Say (Casually) That You Have Penis Envy"

Illustration for article titled "If I Were John Steinbeck I Would Say (Casually) That You Have Penis Envy"

Welcome back to Crap Email From A Dude, in which dudes incriminate themselves in ways at once profoundly alarming and totally familiar. Today, the "Wow Dude, You Found Me Out, Fucking You Twice Means I'm Trying To Marry You" thing.


Our dateline is New York, that would be the first shocker. And as a special meta-bonus, the prizewinning specimen is an actual email sent by a dude by way of analysis of another dude's Crap Email about How I'm Just Not In A Place Right Now Where I'm Looking For A Serious Relationship. (But dude, your Nerve profile said 'New York' and everyone knows that the motto of this town is If You Can't Have A Harmonious Monogamous Relationship Here... ).

So anyway: "Mara" is a 27-year-old lawyer in Williamsburg who used Nerve to meet "Steve", a 37-year-old chef and coffee shop proprietor in Williamsburg, whom she vented about to her 33-year-old welder-artist roommate "Rob" when her suggestion to come by Steve's coffee shop was met with an email of the sort we have just described. Contextual details: Mara is in an open long-distance relationship, which is why she specified on Nerve that she was not looking for a relationship; she was offering to come by the coffee shop because she hadn't been available the evening before.

how are you? thanks for the text last night... i kind of figured that at 11pm rendezvous would be too late on a school night. in terms of this weekend... i don't think i'm up for a visit to the shop yet. and while i'd rather talk to you about such things in person, i'll give you the quick rundown here, and we can talk about it more later...

first, i really like hanging out with you (i hope that's obvious). at the same time, i'm at a place in my life where i'm not looking for a serious committed relationship. to keep that in balance, i need to
keep some things separate... at least for now. that's the short (and honest) truth...

if you still want to hang out monday, let me know... i'd love to. if not, i totally understand...
x, steve

After Mara responded to Steve with a sweet but curt reply containing the word "presumptuous," she complained about the situation to Rob, who said something along the lines of "we wouldn't have to send emails like that if women weren't so bent on marrying us all the time," etc., which gave Mara a bit of the "twisted thrill in killing the enemy" sentiment Rob referenced in his missive about gender differences etc.

Mara now wonders whether she should move out. Our inclination is no, that actually the fact of taking a moment to think about this stuff counts in Rob's favor, and that spelling and grammar and logic do not need to be the strong suits of one's roommate if their names are on the lease of a nice enough apartment, and Mara says they have an awesome roof.

But there is more than a little to find fault with in this email, so much that Georgia and I will be discussing it further on Crap The Blog later on, because we have seen so many perfectly good uncommitted sexual relationships prematurely poisoned by the "Look, you may have never encountered this before because I can tell you are looking to have my babies" neg. (And also because, uh, Steinbeck? Because of the economy or something?) Here's Rob explication of Steve's email:

I can see you thinking this way. I say that, and I use those words not to sound like I know what you're thinking, or even that I know you very well at all ... Lord help me for all the things I think that I know. I clearly know very little, most if it being useless ... When I say "I can see you," I mean it in a way that sounds more like, "that makes sense."

I have lived these thirty something years. I have had all too many poor ideas, maybe a few good ones along the way. And what I think about things will probably never matter to anyone outside of myself,
not the way I seem to court relationships. I have, to be honest with you, grown so disillusioned that I often disregard even my own opinion as little more than more noise in world that is already too loud.

What I have to say then, are not opinions. I have some thoughts. They could go one way or another. They could be worthless or valuable. They could help, they could hurt, or in all probability they will make no difference whatsoever. But, I'd like to share them, or ask them, or set them forward and maybe as time passes we can evolve them between the two of us, and maybe that will be worth something.

You, I believe (which is not to know), have a keen sense of justice. If someone were to ask me what I think makes Mara turn around day after day, I would say, "Justice." This is quite simply, what little I know of you. The thing is that "justice" leans in to the word "fair" which in turn leans in to the word "equality." I'm not saying anything. I have no idea what is true or not. I am not proposing an argument but something more like a hypothosis. "Does justice mean equality?"

And I also need to stop right here and say that I am not talking about something or someone being better than another ... only, definably different.

I tend, I will confess, to not believe in a world of equality. I think I am smarter than a lot people. This is another confession (please don't hurt me). I think that it would be stupid for me to believe anything else. For one: it would serve me no good. For two: the evidence is everywhere. People don't seem to take the time to think about things. I do. Am I supposed to be ashamed about this? Or am I to regard this one who clearly has chosen to think very little as my equal in some way?

I don't think that would make for a good life. I remember telling myself once when I was walking out of bar in New Orleans (on my way to work of all places) that genius requires the warranted or unwarranted
faith that you might just be better than most, if for no other reason than you have tried.

And all of this is somewhat off the subject of the sexes, but it leads in some way.

I'll put this up in the air, "A government is one thing, a marriage is another."

Let it sit there. What I mean is that a government is under an obligation to a whole, to a mass ... in fact I don't believe it can afford to start making exceptions. A government is about laws and laws are inevitably about stereotypes, which is how they achieve any semblance of fairness. "All people that speed are careless drivers." "There is no good reason to steal from another man." "There is no such thing as a benign trespasser." Stereotypes. A government is forced to look at the whole and it has to deal with that vague whole. Justice, in this sense, becomes something larger than us, something that sweeps us up in it for better or worse ... for the good of the whole (or the rich) is greater than the few. Justice.

What I'm trying to direct myself to is that a government uses equality (best case scenario) as the measure of justice. Which is reasonable, necessary and good. I, for one, think that people should not have
opinions of a government until they have asked themselves, "what should a government do exactly?" "Of what good is government at all?"

These are often terribly hard questions for people to answer. They simply haven't thought of it. They think about whether they like the war in Iraq or not. They think about the hard economic times and want
a change. Very little of them think about the actual business of governing. I have three very firm ideas. I think a government should provide healthcare to everyone. I think a government is responsible
to give every child an equal chance at success and an education. I think a government should manage our freedoms such that they don't encroach on another's. I might have some more, but these are central.

The first thing I remember, as I say this, is an argument I had to endure with a fairly wonderful and liberal human being ... because when I talk of fair education I think of boarding schools and uniforms, I also think of testing and specialized curriculums in high school or even earlier.

Have some patience with me, because I think this all ties in to men and women.

So let me start by explaining myself.

1. We cannot guarantee a fair education if we cannot control the home environment. The answer: take everyone out of the home and give them the same chance.

2. Uniforms eliminate financial advantage and conflict.

3. Science and life at large have become so involved that students need more time
to learn it all. Given a choice between the expense of an "extra-grad school, or specialized high schools, I would choose the latter (as a leader).

So this girl was up in a riot. She was an art history major. She did drugs, worked full time, had kinky sex. In short: she lived a full life and was entitled to her opinion of things. But she was accusing
me of stifling creativity (as if that is even possible), and raising a culture of soldiers (as if a mathematics curriculum was the end of human morality).

The thing I am thinking about now is that "a government needs to be concerned with equality AND justice because it is concerned with the whole." As a world leader I don't really have the luxury to give a
damn whether your child might be a great painter one day, or whether you'd prefer that to be. And just because you are a parent doesn't mean you know anything at all outside of how to fuck. My point would
be that a leader has to answer to the whole and should. Government imposed equality upon justice because it lacks the resources to do otherwise. As the king of the world I know that I will die having
upset a billion stupid people, and a several hundred thousand intelligent people ... but the bar I could hold myself to, and the argument I could make when all was said and done: "I gave everyone an equal chance."

And that is the only good argument that would be available to me. Equality and justice. I could say that I gave them both,

Now this girl was rather silly and assumed all sorts of things. I am not against the arts or creative thought. She seemed to feel my ideas were repressive as if I proposed telling people what they should and
should not do ... rather merely I proposed an impartial, probably flawed system of determining what they were in fact good at and giving them the chance to pursue this based on their merit, not their finance. She, clearly, was the sort of person that never thought much about an ideal government at all, because she was founding all her argument on the idea that a capitalist/democratic government was clearly the only moral and good way to govern. As if creativity and art is available to everyone in America as it is.

Why do I bring this up? Because I think that you see the world in a grand scale that most people don't. You think like a world leader. God bless you for it (if I am right ... and if I am not rest assured
that whatever God there might be does not listen to me or care for my blessings). You seem to think in terms of movements. You tell me that a man who is obsessively concerned about the distance of his sexual relationship with you is a bigot. You speak on behalf of women and not so much on behalf of yourself. For in fact, you haven no personal objection to his idea. You like to fuck and so does he and
it would seem that no emotion is involved at all. But it gets to you that he keeps informing you of your place in his life. You call it "stereotyping," and with that word you get offended on behalf of all women.

Where am I going with this. Alright, this is my big gamble. I like you very much. In fact, as I walked out of the house tonite I thought about what a good and wonderful woman you are (or at least what I see
you to be). You are smart as a whip ... you clearly hold yourself to higher bar than the rest of us ... you have worked and succeeded and kept your integrity ... really Mara I can't think of a better woman
than you. You have been kind and understanding and easy to live with. You are honest and sexy and careful.

I give you all of these impressions because I don't want in any way to sound like I am criticizing. I am only talking about ideas and possibilities. I could be so awfully wrong about you ... and I am no one to judge anyone at all.

So having said all of this, my hypothesis (which is to say my theory, which is to say I have no founded proof): You have a difficulty not being a leader. That's it really. I mean, on a personal level this
guy meant you no offense. He was: being a guy, and that should not inherently offend you.

Men are different when it comes down to me and you and him and her. It is one thing to see the world at large and another to see the world at hand. That is what I have hoped to illuminate. I could be wrong
and perhaps I failed because of that. I could be right and I failed anyway. I could also be making more of something that really doesn't merit it at all.

All I can account for is the effort, for whatever it is worth.

As a society men and women are all just possibilities to give an opportunity to ... but as a lover, as a boy: men and women are neither equal or the same ... and as a poet or a write I would have to say that it would be a tragedy to call them so.

If I were John Steinbeck I would say (casually) that you have penis envy. If I were a little more civil I would say that you probably would prefer to be a man. If I were something less I'd either have no
opinion or I'd fail to acknowledge a vague sense of envy. But all of these statements would reflect the same idea: that your problems with men are not societal, but they are inherent ... and they might not
even be problems at all. I am only trying to answer an accusation (two in fact).

Look, as earnest as your anger might have seemed ... I think the dude was just trying to be honest with you. I don't think he gave any thought to women's rights at all because he was more concerned with
you, right in front of him, and not hurting you ... and I don't think that warrants an angry response. Men are men. We are brought up to that way, and if we weren't we wonder what the hell we should have
been brought up to be. We have cocks that penetrate, a need to compete, we say stupid and inappropriate things: but we see the world as men. And women are different, not less but clearly different. For one thing: you'd never hear a man getting angry at woman who kept insisting the sex was just casual.

When you put a man and a woman together all sorts of things begin to happen that maybe we don't like to admit, but they happen and they are there. And it has nothing to do with justice or fairness, because it
has everything to do with love ... which is a much different and often more violent thing.

I guess what I am saying is that even if it is well within your right to choose your relationships based on equality and fairness, it would be a failure to judge your lovers that way. You'll miss things. Love
is not fair or equal and that is a reflection of the nature of things... men are men and women are women ... no man is going to embrace his child with such selfish adoration (or most men at least) as much as no
woman is going to feel some twisted thrill in killing an enemy (or at least most women). And I'm not trying to demean or criticize either... its just that if you take them away and you call it all equal and
fair ... then what do you have left?

We were talking about the mythology of "moves" tonite. Cute conversation, but maybe relevant. I told you tonite, perhaps the only great insight I feel like I might have ever come upon: a woman will
cum when she wants to. Your job is to make he feel comfortable or desperate enough to do it. In this regard I have found that talking can produce results that no movement or swirl otherwise have might.
And one of the consistent truths of this matter? Grab her hair. I won't say that it will work with every girl, but my god it helps with most. Grab her hair ... eliminate in this way her responsibility, or in other words let her just react ... or in other even more words: be a man and take her.

This doesn't get me promotions, if doesn't make me any friends ... but it seems (at least in my very humble experience) to help a woman cum.

Maybe this is societal. Maybe women just feel guilty about cumming and so they prefer to feel forced, maybe I have a skewed experience... or maybe the nature of things is under it all.

I say: do what you want with your life. Be what you want. Be the king or queen of everything if you can convince the world to believe that... but we will always be men and women.

You might have a good argument to the contrary. You might convince me otherwise ... but that would be on you. I can listen to everything. I try at least to hold no opinion that can't support itself.

But I think above everything I am saying .. be easy on us Mara. We have had an experience and it is definably not yours. Your virtue (which is not speak of your lack of perversion but your ideals)
is going to attract good people, good men. Be easy on them and I think you'll find that they are trying.

Or perhaps even more to the point ... look at people for what they are and not what you think they should be. Whether they are men or women. And how would you feel if I accused you of being sexist for giving
that luxury to your friends and not to your lovers?

But that is just a question. I don't know where it is going to land. I could be as wrong as I ever am.

Really, I am terribly happy to have you around. I want these to be the thoughts you asked me for and not some sort of blindside critique. They are not meant that way. This isn't a letter full of truths... these are thoughts to chew upon, to trade and talk about ...



E-mail was soooo loooong. I got bored halfway and stopped. I'd ditch Rob just for being such a passive-aggressive windbag. Gah, can't imagine what having a conversation with him would be like. The sad thing I agree with his comment that the guy who texted her was just being on the level and (really) just making the nature of their relationship clear. That is an honest thing to do. Outside of that everything else was crap!