Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Son Has A Girlfriend

My son has a girlfriend. Nothing wrong with that, you say. Or you could be like my comadre, who would cross herself and say, Thank goodness he likes women.

The thing is that my son is eleven. He makes fun of Barbie commercials and reacts in disgust should I ever mistakenly buy him anything he considers “for girls.” His commentary on the fair sex usually amounts to “Eurgh!” All perfectly normal, along with mysterious objects that I have to fish out of his pockets when putting things in the wash, and a delight in imaginative stories where Arnold Schwarzenegger unleashes armies on unsuspecting Teletubbies, with all the resulting flying day-glow fur and tangled antennae.

So what, you may ask, would make my darling, perfectly developmentally correct son attractive to a fellow 11-year old, who being female is probably considerably more emotionally mature and not hung up on decapitating Teletubbies? I know he’s tall for his age, has a broad chest from a self-conscious season of nightly push-ups, his father’s smooth olive skin, almond eyes, my dark blond hair, and a certain cachet in his grade based on… based on the kind of quiet confidence that has made him a leader since kindergarten (Josh, as you’re leaving, can I be in charge now?” his schoolmates would ask when I picked him up from school), and I’m ashamed to admit it, probably also based on his cell phone which I bought him in a flush of “Yes, I can give my son what he wants,” followed swiftly by, “$100 of text-messaging!?” “I don’t care if it’s a cool ring tone, it cost me $5!” Whatever the reason, it seems Silver has found a hook upon which to hang her prepubescent fantasy of romantic love.

Silver (firm friend of Chynna and Crystal – as one wag remarked, together they made a place setting) is a gorgeous filly. I choose the word deliberately because she is long-legged, with a mane of long blond hair, and has a quickness and focus that suggests intelligence. She’s also smart enough to greet me enthusiastically every time she sees me. Her mother has the kind of looks that makes fathers miss their child scoring a goal during soccer tournaments if she should walk by the bleachers. If I had breasts like that my life would have been different. Silver’s father occasionally comes to pick her up. Her parents are not together. My amateur psychology divines that Silver wants male attention and so in her hapless, romantic, vulnerability, has picked my son.

– My son who loves computer games, soccer, a good dinner followed by ice cream, laughing with his mates and skipping a shower if he can get away with it. What on earth possesses Silver to believe that my son could possibly have the emotional capacity to respond to her complicated, delicate heart? That he could hold her, heal her, make her whole? But wait a minute, doesn’t that sound familiar? Why do I, at 44, still hold out the hope that I could find a man who would gaze deep into my eyes and not be thinking about either bed, dinner or escaping to be with his friends? Do not most males of my acquaintance like nothing better than computer games, soccer… You take my point? Easy to pity the feeble romanticism of a preteen girl until you realize she is only mirroring the same fantasies we still live with in middle age when we’re old enough to KNOW BETTER!

Personally, I blame Pretty Woman and all the Hollywood fluffy, feel-good, marry to live happily-ever-after movies for encouraging us to inhabit this imaginary world where Josh sees Silver as anything other than an alien life form, and men in limousines pick up hookers for anything other than anonymous sex. “Stop expecting someone to come rescue you!” I wish I could print it in every teen magazine, alongside the make-up tips and “My Best Friend Stole My Boyfriend” stories. If only Julia Roberts would tackle the role of Annie Oakley, she could save generations of teenage girls to come.

Copyright © 2006 Louise Godbold

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