Last night I went out with a girlfriend to a local gathering spot in Marin county. We were having a good time as we sipped our wine and chatted about what had gone on over the past week. After a while we noticed a single man whom my friend knew fairly well. We invited him to join us as he was on his own and we were out for some fun! After a very short while I think we both realized we were happier before he joined us and having a happier time. I reflected on the interaction between us as I was going to sleep last night. As soon as the man joined us the table for two women became a table for three and an unspoken competition arose between the women. I bowed out of the competition early on by informing him I had a boyfriend but the competitive spirit still remained. I watched my lively friend charming both of us and I noticed after a while how angry she was becoming with the guy. As I listened to the conversation between them I began to understand why this was happening. This man is a perfectly nice man, don’t get me wrong, but he had absolutely no understanding of what might be interesting or appropriate conversation to have with two attractive and bright women. Obviously he had never been interested in learning or, more importantly, had never had to learn. He is very successful in his life and can do pretty much whatever he wants. I know there are a lot of women who would sit quietly by his side listening to his story of a dead battery in a smoke detector for 15 minutes and act as if it were fascinating. I wanted to know about his work , his impressions of the economy and his outside interests. That is what I am interested in these days when I meet someone new. I think the interesting part of the evening was my own behavior in wanting to win over the man. I didn’t think about this consciously but I noticed it after the evening was over. Even though I didn’t like what he was saying or think he was a compassionate man, I wanted to win him! I didn’t want to keep him, only win him. I learned this behavior at my mother’s knee. She taught me very well the importance of winning in the man game. There are no rules, you can cheat, lie and steal but you must win. The interesting thing to me now is realizing how bad it feels once you have won. There is no emptiness like winning in this game. There are no ego benefits at this stage of life. There are no accolades to receive. There is only emptiness. Wanting to win when the race involves two women is a race I have decided not to enter anymore. It took one last event to make me realize how my mother was not right in this approach to life. There were a lot of reasons why she needed to win most of her life. She came from poverty and married wealth. She always remembered what it was like to be really poor and have a lot of rich friends.She remembered what it was like to go to dances wearing cheap dresses and to hope the boys noticed you despite the dress.She heard her mother constantly telling her that it was “just as easy to marry a rich man as a poor one.” My mother was a beautiful woman and she felt beauty was all she had . This caused her to spend most of her life watching other women to see who might be lovelier than her including her daughters. I have spent a lot of my life wanting to measure up to her idea of beauty. Was I pretty enough? As pretty as my mother? Prettier? The funny thing about looks is no matter how lovely you are it never seems believable as you need the constant admiration of anothers’ eyes. You can’t just hear once how beautiful you are, you need to hear it more and more. As you get older it is more interesting still as you compare your own face to those of a similar age and take pleasure when you see you look younger.There is no winning in this competition as you can imagine. Maybe other women don’t have this problem as severely as I do. Maybe their mothers were not as aware of the competition. The interesting part of getting older is seeing what you do and why you do it. There are so many people who don’t want to know.I loved my mother and spent a lot of time trying to make her see her strengths. I am afraid this was a losing battle.
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