Sunday, 28 February 2016

About therapeutic qualities of Facebook.Yes, for real.

There are days when I simply love Facebook.

I know people often complain, and there have been numerous articles on the subject, about how unhappy they become from witnessing other people’s online happiness. Their glamorous dresses, their new cars, their paradise beach photos with bare toes and cocktails in front of endless white sands and turquoise blue seas…

However, there also are occasions when Facebook can make you feel better about yourself.

Like the other day. 

I saw a few photos posted by some guy I (barely) knew years ago. One of those Facebook friends who wasn’t really your friend in real life, you know. He was on holiday somewhere pretty. The whole thing looked perfect. The sea water was turquoise. The mountains in the background were green. The sand was white. Beach. Cocktails. You know, the whole lot.

I saw a photo of him with his very young children and thought he looked well. I knew the guy was roughly my age. The kids looked cute. And then, in another photo, I saw a picture of an older lady kissing one of his children. How nice, I thought. That’s sweet.  He obviously took his mother on holiday. A proud thought crossed my mind, along the lines of Azeris looking after their parents, taking them on expensive holidays, and all that.

There were a few other photos, with the old lady alone with the kids…and then suddenly, there was the last photo that looked a bit….strange. The guy was standing in the middle, kids on each side, with his arm wrapped around his mother’s waist. Proudly.

Wait a moment, I thought. Something is wrong here. This is a bit strange, even for an Azeri family. This is perhaps slightly, you know, incestuous.

And then, and I swear to you only then, it hit me. It was not his mother. It was his wife.

I checked and double-checked. I looked at his profile.

Yep, wife.

Bloody Nora! As my father in law would say.

Turquoise sea water….Beautiful beach…and a wife that looks like your mother.

I thought it would be a good idea to make an A1 size print of this photo and hang it on my wall. Maybe in the bathroom, where I stumble into in the morning feeling depressed  about the dark circles under my eyes and that aging face…Just at that precise moment all I need to do is glance at this photo, and it surely will put things into perspective.  It might be a better idea to have a few copies.  And when the visitors ask me why I have a large portrait of some strangers on my wall, I will just smile and tell them that those people mean a lot to me.

I am sorry that I cannot share those photos here, with all of you, so that you could benefit from them too. Could be wonderfully therapeutic for some of you. 

So what is the bottom line of this, you might ask. Besides me being a bitch, of course.
Well…The guy looked so happy in those photos. I mean, maybe he truly is. Maybe, as my husband would point out, she is a wonderful person and the guy loves her a lot. OK. I will try and believe that. Yet, it made me think about what we see on Facebook verses real life.  And it made me think of all those people I know who looked so blissfully happy on Facebook. Or rich. Or beautiful. Or just perfect in all those ways. It made me think of the roses and hearts and bunnies and white kittens…and the reality that was often so different. So really, if you do get upset by or jealous of something you have seen on Facebook, just remember…Most of it is just a pretty facade. You know, a bit like those buildings in Baku that are all cleaned up on the outside, but falling apart inside, with the lifts that stink of urine. 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Let him play that golf.

My friend was telling me about her late father. How much she missed him and what an amazing person he was. You know, she said, I will tell you this one short story about him, which would paint you the picture straight away. And it did. I knew immediately what she was talking about.

Look, she said, one night we had guests over at our house and one visitor accidentally dropped and broke a beautiful expensive crystal glass.
The guest was devastated, but my friend’s father picked up another glass: ‘What, this piece of junk? Is this what you are upset about?!’ And he chucked the second glass on the floor.

‘Every time I tell this story’, my friend said, ‘it gives me goose bumps. That’s what kind of person my father was. ‘

I know, I said. And I told her about my grandfather.

My grandfather was quite a famous actor and an opera singer in the old Soviet Baku. One night my mother, then a little girl, was woken up by a loud music and singing. A whole large group of Romani, or gypsies were in our 5th floor city apartment. After the play, at 2am in the morning, my grandfather showed up at home with a whole performing troupe of the Romani. The next morning my mother remembers having nothing to eat in the house, as everything was eaten and drunk with the gypsies.

Yes, my friend concluded. Those men like our grandfathers…that generation…They don’t make them like that anymore.

OK, I thought. Let’s be honest here, for a change. Aren’t we, the women, to blame somewhat for what is happening to our males?

I thought about the glasses story and how any of my married girlfriends would probably react, should their husbands decide to demonstrate the endless generosity of theirs by smashing our favourite expensive wine glasses. They, we, would go mental! Modern men simply can’t win this game. It is not possible.

We want them to be generous, yet we want them to be sensible. We want them to do crazy things for us, for love…yet we want them to protect our children and their future.

So we face a cataclysmic paradox here, girls. When single, we have certain expectations of our dates, and we often get attracted to men who are, in our eyes, are capable of all those things we get turned on by: passion, craziness for us, silly romantic gestures, etc etc. But then, we get married and suddenly, we don’t want them smashing our wine glasses and feeding a whole dancing troupe of Gypsies all the food our children were going to be fed for the next few days. Our expectations suddenly become very different. And so we try and change those men. Change all those traits we had once fallen in love with. We try and manage their craziness we used to think was charming. We, girls who were so impressed once before with careless romantic gestures, beat all that shit right out of our males. We stomp all over their passionate personalities, the personalities we had once found irresistible, to turn them into sensible providers. A friend of mine was telling me how impressed she was with someone we both knew who would not let her husband keep any of his salary. She is in charge of family finances, she decides what and when gets purchased.  Really? I thought…Really?  Is this what you think should happen? Is this what you think a prince from fairy tale would dream about when he proposed to his fucking Cinderella…(let alone Christian Gray if that’s your fantasy male)? Vanilla sex twice a month and his salary controlled?

Another friend of mine was pleased to announce that her husband, always a very keen golfer, finally realised that playing golf every weekend was not great for the family. He had to spend more time with the children and her, she said. So he gave up his favourite hobby. Great job. You just cut off a chunk of your man’s soul, as well as his balls. Well done, girlfriend. You obviously don’t need any of those anymore.

So what happens then? What happens to all those husbands we have so successfully pussy whipped for years?

Well, it is pretty predictable isn’t it. They either turn into pathetic, lethargic, fat sad bastards, growing ugly stupid beards to at least appear masculine, sitting on  sofas watching TV with empty eyes, dead inside…or they rebel. In many different ways, none of which you would appreciate.

So, maybe, and I am just wondering here..Maybe it is not that ‘they don’t make them like that’ anymore. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we try and work hard to re-make them into something we think we need, something the society expects, something that, at some point will become breathing, functioning, emotionless robots that we, ourselves, one day will suddenly find…boring.

You might be one of those women who always wanted a sensible, predictable, secure man to pay your bills. And that is OK. However, if at some point in your life you were attracted to something else in him, even if it does not seem very sensible right now… Please, please! allow him to retain at least a little bit of his craziness. Not just for him, but for you, too. I admire my friend’s father and his gesture with the wine glasses. And I love the Gypsies story my mother told me. And I do think they make them like that these days, too. Only we, women, must try and not destroy it all entirely with our primal need for security and predictability. Please, please, please…let him play that fucking golf.