No, her name wasn’t really “Margaret”.
She was cute. Some girls are beautiful, some girls are amazing, some girls are great. Margaret was pretty and vivacious and nice. She was “cute”.
If a guy refers to a girl as “great”, he’s going to buy her a diamond ring, because, she is a great girl. I have news for you women who have been called “great” by your boyfriend or fiancé: it’s a condescending term.
That’s what you do when someone has been great– buy them a worthless bauble. The more you spend on this worthless bauble, the more likely you will have good sex. That’s because by purchasing this bauble and committing to marriage, you have ensured that the great girl will never have to resort to prostitution to keep food on the table. She is happy. She will reward you. DeBeers is happy. They have succeeded in manipulating otherwise sensible young men into handing over copious amounts of cash for a cheap, worthless mineral.
So Margaret was not a great girl.
She was not amazing either. Amazing girls are rare: I have met about two or three really, truly, amazing girls in my life. An amazing girl has four qualities. She is smart, she is physically beautiful, she is confident, and she has a kind disposition. They are also usually pretty good at gracefully keeping you at distance if they are not interested in a relationship without making you feel like you’re a jerk.
Margaret was pretty, and amusing, and fun. She had a good figure, nice breasts, nice waist. She could be amusing. If you were walking around and you ended up seeing her in the general direction you were walking, you’d keep heading that way and stop and chat.
All right. What I remember most about Margaret was the fact that she, more than anyone else I’d ever known, demonstrated to me that girls can be just as physically aggressive as boys are believed to be, and as women sometimes claim that boys are when they use the phrase “they’re all alike”.
Here’s what happened, about 25 years ago: Margaret came to my dorm room at college looking for her boyfriend, who was not there at the time. She kind of hung around for a few moments, bantering with me, probably flirting– I can’t remember for sure. Then she jumped me.
By “jumped”, I mean that she grabbed me and pulled me out of my chair and tried to tickle me, and wrestled me onto the floor and sat on me. I “fought” back, of course, and we rolled around and engaged in a behavior which, when you try to describe it, sounds absolutely preposterous, pointless, and silly, but is very enjoyable if both parties like each other.
The key thing I understood about this kind of behavior is that it is often a form of projection: a girl initiates it because she wants you to be aggressive towards her. She wants you to fight back. Don’t believe me? Try this next time it happens (as if!): don’t fight back. Most of the time, she will stop and give an expression of disappointment. You don’t want to play? Sheesh– what a dork. She will stop, and may even feel humiliated. And I really don’t care if that’s politically incorrect, I think it’s true.
I think most people believe that physical horseplay between young people of either or opposite genders is just that, horse play. There’s nothing sexual about it, right? Guys do it with each other all the time, so it can’t be. It could be sexual if a guy and a girl do it, but it doesn’t have to be.
Actually, is anybody really that dumb? Of course it’s sexual.
What about if two guys do it? I’m not sure about anything. I think it’s possible that horseplay between two or more guys might be partly sexual. Ever see the way professional football players, and marines, and Republicans, always seem to be patting each other’s hairy butts? I think they like it. I think they find women foreign. I think I’m glad I never joined the marines.
It’s disguised, in some ways, but sometimes you reach a weird moment of inadvertent transparency, as Margaret and I did. You suddenly feel that the other person knows exactly why you think this feels good. Maybe it comes with a sudden, unexpectedly deliberate shift of the hips, or legs moving slightly apart instead of, defensively, together, or the failure to quickly snap your jeans back up after a button pops, or a gesture of submission– outstretched arms, a certain kind of languidity.
With Margaret, it was a look. As she was sitting on me, holding my hands down and straddling my chest, with her hips quite close to my face, we both suddenly noticed that her jeans had un-snapped, and her zipper was most of the way down, exposing her blue underwear. Yeah, I remember the colour. She looked down and then she looked at me quickly– was I looking? Yes I was. She made no effort to do up her jeans, or the top buttons on her shirt that had mysterious come loose. She said something like “I could take you” clearly mean to challenge me to throw her over, which I did.
It would be easier to understand life in general if most human behavior were linear, logical, or reasonable. Some good comedy comes from setting up a character who attempts to behave that way, by verbalizing his intentions before carrying them out. “I will now engage in gratuitous intentional physical contact with you in order to gratify a strong but submerged sexual impulse”. No– just go for it.
The irony, of course, is that even though I was more than pleased to engage in some intense physical play with an attractive young woman, there was no way, at that moment, that I was going to make the first move on my friend’s girlfriend. I mean, he wasn’t a close friend…. but still. And I had my eye on someone else at the time.
What’s a first move? That’s what’s so wonderful about horse play. Until that moment, we could have wrestled and bumped and rubbed against each other in all kinds of sexually arousing ways and then broke it off without either of us having to actually acknowledge that anything sexual had happened. I think we were almost there– we were both breathing heavily and tired and a bit sweaty when she suddenly licked my face and the next thing I knew is we were into some very heavy groping.
Why a lick, not a kiss? I have no idea. I’ll bet she doesn’t either. I certainly didn’t expect it– for a split second, I thought she was going to kiss me, but she suddenly gave me a big, wet lick on my cheek and another on my mouth, and giggled, and then did it again.
Did I miss something in my adolescence, some part of the traditional initiation into sexual rites, between French kissing and petting? None of my brothers ever told me, “and then the girl licks you.” I’ve never seen it happen in a movie.
I said, “the next thing I knew” we were groping. We always skip over that part, don’t we? When I read lines like that, I get a little disappointed– what do you mean “the next thing”– how did you get to the next thing? That’s what I want to know. That’s what I want a good writer to explain. What I did was stick my hand into her loosened jeans– that’s the next thing I knew. Had she slapped her knees together, I would have stopped right there; but she did the opposite.
If I had made the first move, and if she had rejected me, she would have emerged with a delicious story about my utterly contemptible behavior, along with the coy pleasure of showing her friends, he wanted me. If I had made the first move and she hadn’t rejected me, I would probably have had a new girlfriend, which I was not, at that particular moment, interested in. But she did it, without asking, seemingly without any consideration of the consequences.
Afterwards, she seemed embarrassed and hurriedly dressed and left, and we never, ever spoke about what happened. Shortly afterwards, she broke up with my room-mate. She did not make any attempt to re-connect with me, possibly because I had started a relationship with someone else.
As is the case with many people of my generation, there are few traces of Margaret on the internet. But I just read, on some obscure web-page somewhere, that Margaret got married. That means she was single until she was probably about 44 or so. I liked Margaret, so I feel a bit sad that she never found “that special someone” earlier in life. Then again, maybe she did– I have no way of knowing.
Life is unjust: Margaret was pretty but couldn’t find a potential husband until she was 44. Or life is unjust: pretty girls usually have no problem attracting men.
There is no big point here. My friend later told me that Margaret liked me. It seemed to please him in some odd way– maybe because a friend of a friend is my friend. I immediately felt guilty. I thought Margaret was being unduly provocative in telling him that she liked me after letting me see most of her naked.
I remember her fondly the way most of us remember people who liked us. I liked her because she was cute and had a good sense of humor and she seemed nice. And because she had liked me. There was never any serious question in my mind of us starting a relationship.
And yes, girls can be as aggressive as boys. But not many boys would complain about it.
What does it tell you about our society that I have no inclination to actually identify Margaret, because I am very sure that she would be horrified to find this description of her behavior on the internet, even though it happened 25 years ago. We still tend to convey to young women that it is not “nice” to be sexually aggressive, even though we pay lip service to the idea of sexual equality.
At her first meeting with Ted Hughes, at a party, Sylvia Plath allegedly bit him on the cheek, drawing blood.
Have you noticed that more and more movies show the girl being as sexually aggressive as the guy? That’s actually a fairly old trend. One of the first movies that I can remember that shows this kind of behavior by a woman is “Say Anything” (1989), in which Diane Court (Ione Skye) tells her father that she “pounced” on John Cusack. But check out “Pretty Poison” for the scene in which Tuesday Weld finishes off the night watchman!
It’s not that rare lately. Watch “Sex in the City” or “Scrubs”, or the movie “Thirteen”.