The worst thing about blind dates isn’t so much that you don’t have much to go on in the beginning. Nope. It’s that you are obliged to report any progress (or lack thereof) to the person/people that set you up. Your friend combed the entire city, bent over backwards, to find you someone ‘compatible’—you can’t very well go home and forget about it, now, can you. Nope. Not a shot in hell. You must pick up when she calls you later that night and be ready with a blow-by-blow account of what went down. When she holds her breath and asks “So, how did it go?” you’ll probably have to lie, fiddle the facts a bit, for the sake of everyone involved, because your blind date just happens to be your best friend’s boyfriend’s cousin’s best-friend’s Z-lister brother, and you just know there’s no way you should even think of saying, “Gaaah. I never thought anyone could be so gauche. It was a disaster.”
It was awkward, at first. No butterflies. No love at first sight. No immediate connection, even. Nevertheless, there we were, bound by a mutual loyalty to close friends who knew less about our preferences in companions than we could ever have suspected. We were there, so we decided there was no harm in trying. While we weren’t strictly each other’s type, we decided it wouldn’t be the worst thing if we enjoyed ourselves. We’d have a good time, go our separate ways and exchange sunshiny hallos if we ever bumped into each other. That was the plan.
Having shed our expectations, we relaxed and had a memorable give-and-take. Smooth and courteous, for the most part. The best part is that I didn’t even have to say much. When I did speak, I tried very hard not to say something stupid. Yes, if you must know, this was as difficult an endeavour as it sounds.
Then I shared what I’d heard over the radio sometime back, because we’d talked about nearly everything two people that have just met can talk about and it had come to that time when one is supposed to make it known that one does something else with one’s free time besides watching House and learning card tricks and quoting one-liners from The Big Bang Theory to one’s long-suffering workmates.
It was a contentious theory about how the recession might not have been such a recession if there had been more women in supervisory roles. More women CEOs, MDs, Presidents. More women on executive boards and committees. That women would have asked all the right ‘stupid questions’ because they don’t have egos the size of Lake Victoria, because they have no problem ‘losing face’; they would never have pretended to know what’s going on; they would have been wary of taking unnecessary risks. In addition, women have that fabled sixth sense—they would have known something wasn’t quite right. They would have sniffed out dubious investments faster than you can say, ‘Wanasema, how comes?’ Etcetera, etcetera.
Blind date made some snarky, sexist comment and I thought: Heavens, no. Please, not another one of those god-awful men-are-better-than-women-at-everything-period arguments. I refused to go down that road. I was determined to enjoy myself so I let the comment slide. I deliberately steered clear of any topics that might result in a battle-of-the-sexes bloodbath. Then somewhere along the way, I said something that got him saying:
‘You’re thinking like a man.’
To this day, I’m not sure if that was a diss or a compliment. My friend thinks it’s a compliment, because when a man tells a woman that she’s thinking like a man, that can only be a good thing. Because thinking ‘man thoughts’, looking at things through a man’s eye, arriving at solutions with a man’s thinking cap on, is equivalent to being an honorary man: for a woman, there is no greater honour. It means you’ve arrived. Or something to that effect.
Is thinking like a man all it’s cracked up to be?
If thinking like a man means paying $500 dollars to spend two and a half days in some hotel conference hall listening to another man in a suit tell you the exact same thing your wife/girlfriend would have told you at home, free of charge, while she washes the dishes, then perhaps it isn’t.
I’m just saying.