Monday, July 9, 2007

Confidence Game

This is an essay provided by one of our Humble Fiction Cafe writers, Gary Denton. The management takes little or no responsibility for Gary, or in the things he writes, says, or scribbles onto tiny bits of colored paper in the dark. Gary decided not to write an autobiographical entry, but instead hopes that you get to know him by reading his entries and his fiction stories in the upcomming HFC debut book "SPLIT." He also likes to write about himself in third person which he is doing

“Do you feel like you have enough confidence?” my wife asked in the waning hours of the afternoon as we lay on our two-person hammock.

“Yeah, I suppose so,” I replied. “Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough, and sometimes I have too much, but it all evens out.”

“Do you ever think it comes across as arrogance, or self-righteousness?”

“Of course not,” I said looking down at her from a great height. “No one would ever say that about me, and by the way, you’re not fanning me fast enough with that palm frond. Could you speed it up a little?”

Well, no- I didn’t actually say that. If I had, then I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be sitting at all.
But, even more absurd than my possible list of smart-aleck replies is the question of why my wife has an issue with confidence in the first place.

Our fifteenth wedding anniversary is next week. That alone should convince her that she is an amazing woman. I did the math a few days ago- my mother was married twice and both relationships lasted just over ten years. My wife’s parents were married about ten years before they split up, and while both of them have remarried, they are still only twenty years into their second relationships. We’ve almost caught up to them, but this is our FIRST marriage. I’d say that gives us a good five year handicap so the next time any of our parents decide to dish out marital advice I’m going to ask to see their counselor’s license and a list of references.

Then there is the issue of being married to me for fifteen years, which is its own accomplishment. No matter what perspective I come from, my wife is an amazing woman.

She graduated from college, has two beautiful well behaved children, mentors women is substance abuse programs, and works outside the home. She is well respected in her church, she is considering going back to work on her masters degree, and, if I may say so- she’s a hot babe. I mean it.
So what reason does she have to lack confidence?

I stayed outside on the hammock by myself longer than I should have, and as I entered the house a little groggy from “resting my eyes” my wife was sitting on the couch combing our eight-year old daughter’s hair. The TV was on and I realized they were watching “Age of Love,” the new reality show where a group of young women compete against a group of “seasoned” older women for the affections of some dashing bachelor with a weird Kathleen Turner accent. I watched as the women competitors ran a grueling race that ended with them paddling a surfboard out to a yacht were their suitor stood waiting at the railing to give them a hand as they crawled aboard.

“There it is,” I thought. No wonder women like my wife lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. Reduced to cheep circus entertainment, these women deserve to be kicked in their silicone enhanced backsides. And while that statement doesn’t even make proper medical sense, I know that they are not totally to blame. Media is part of the problem, but it appears to me that many of the women I know lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. Those that do have confidence and some sense of pride are often thought of in very negative terms by their female peers. I can't fathom the depths of this paradox. For one- it is too complex an issue, and for another reason, I'm a guy and I'm easily distracted by...oh look- the glass face of my watch is reflecting the setting sun...ohhh....shiny.

Seriously, I do not pretend to have the ability to shift through the last century of cultural flotsam and jetsam to present to you the single defining moment of the female inferiority complex, but doggone it- this kind of television program can’t be helping. And then part of me takes a step back and wonders if I am the problem. If I think less of these women for making fools out of themselves, then am I contributing to the overall decline in feminine confidence? Am I?

Nah, never mind that, I am going to judge them. In two words-
How pathetic.
And that may come across as arrogant or self-righteous, but I’m okay with that. As I told my wife today after rattling off a list of the things she has accomplished that make me so very proud of her, maybe I have too much confidence because she has so little.

“But isn’t that co-dependant?” she asked.

Remind me to find the person who invented that phase. More backsides need a good kicking-surgically enhanced or not.


Dorlana said...

All husbands should speak of their wives so highly. However, I do have one tiny little suggestion - Perhaps we can find another way to decribe women in their late 30's and early 40's. :)

Humble Fiction Cafe said...

Oh, where to begin?
I would have to certainly place blame on the media, but I think it goes much deeper than that and much farther back in time.
For some reason women have been taught that they should NOT be confident, and that seems to me to be because it would have a devestating effect on the male population if the females were confident. At least that's what my mother taught me. So, I guess you would say that I have an "underground" confidence.
I know I can accomplish most things I set out to do, but being a woman, I'm supposed to keep that a secret. (ooops, it's out of the bag now!)
Recently, I attended a writer's workshop taught by a woman of about my age. Let's just say that if "seasoned" means 40's, she and I are a little "over spiced". Anyway, she bristled a bit at the question someone asked about her age, saying that she never gave it out because she is an aspiring screenwriter and Hollywood would not be receptive to her if they knew her age before they read her work. Made me feel real confident, I'll tell you.
Then, also there was the recent article in a writer's magazine stating that men authors didn't need to worry too much about their looks on a book's dust jacket, but women who looked too old, or heavy or whatever might want to think about a make over before they posed for their pictures. Another real confidence builder.
Oh, well. I know I'm accomplished. Now, I'm off to write the great American novel. That is if I'm smart enough, attractive enough, thin enough, rich enough....
Well, you get the picture.