We’re having an issue at our house right now with what I call inappropriate behavior toward women and what the old Marine calls, the entire world picking on Jack when he means no harm and is such a lovable character no one could possibly take offense at his off-color remarks and too tight, too long hugs.
It’s a very old battle, prone to stalemates and standoffs. Like every battle ever, there are lots of losers and never any winners.
But the issue popping its head up again this week does give me a reason to look at another point about living with PTSD. Here it is. Big, huge, shocking revelation.
Not everything in every freaking day is about war trauma.
Jack was a misogynist before he ever pulled on those snazzy dress blues with the sexy red stripe down the outside of the leg. Though, in fairness, most all seventeen year old boys are mesmerized by boobs and the possibility, no matter how remote, of getting between some girl’s legs. Did participating in a war that blew him apart, physically and emotionally, end his emotional growth and freeze him in that seventeen year old mindset? Does he now use offensive behavior as a blockade against emotional intimacy. I don’t know. It’s possible.
But I suspect the man is simply un-trainable when it comes to women.
I tell him (here read shout, rant, rave) it is NOT acceptable to call my friends or the wives of his friends and breathe into the phone, “What are ya wearin’, you sexy thang?”
“What?” he blinks. “Sure it is. They know I’m kidding around.”
“No!” You’re right, I’m shouting and my face is almost certainly the same color as a baboon’s ass. “It’s predatory behavior. Don’t do it. Ever. Again. Not. Ever.”
“Huh.” He shakes his head. “Well, that may be how you feel, but most women enjoy that kind of witty banter.”
“No woman. Ever. In the history of the world. Likes answering the phone, safe in her own home, to some jackass asking her what she’s wearing. Not ever. Everevereverever!”
“Well,” my jarhead says, “that’s your opinion.”
Or, how about this conversation. . .
“Full body hugs complete with running your hands along women’s backs and sticking your tongue in their ears is NOT appropriate.”
He glares, tries intimidation.
“A lot of women like it.”
“NO WOMEN EVEREVEREVEREVER LIKED IT. Except maybe on Patpong in Bangkok and even then, those women GET PAID TO LIKE IT.”
“Well,” he says, “you’re entitled to your opinion, I guess.”
Which leads to this conversation:
He scratches his beard, eyes like a puppy after a bully has aimed a boot at his ribs.
“What do you mean I can’t go to Jane’s birthday party?”
“Last week you called when I was over at her house. I had left already but you did your stalker thing. That whispering nonsense that so many women just adore?”
He glares and I admit it, I own it. I’m a sarcastic shrew. I exhale, draw a deep breath, unclench my fists and drop my shoulders.
“Well, I love you,” I say through gritted teeth, “and there are consequences for behavior. Jane is now uncomfortable around you and therefore you are not going with me to her party.”
“How come I’m not allowed to stay alone in the house with your sister?”
Or friend, daughter-in-law, niece, or any women, really, between 18 and 80. And I’m being very conservative here with those ages. There are exceptions on both ends of that scale.
I shake my head.
“Because last time she was here you made her uncomfortable, consequentially, you now have to put on your shirt and ride to the Wal-Mart with me.”
“Hey! The second she told me to knock it off, I backed away. And now, because you have hang-ups about affection, I’m to be punished?”
“Yep, that’s right. Marriage is a bitch of a compromise, ain’t it?”