Women in general have to endure a lot of pain and angst in their lives. Think about it. There’s the pain of PMS every month when it feels like a kitten is trying to claw its way out of your womb, or you're about to give birth to a calf. Then when a woman gets married, she has to give up everything – her life, her family, her home etc. for the man. Then there’s the agony of childbirth. And what about the hundreds of other twinges that come from being a self-sacrificing being – something that is so innate to most females.
But from ALL the pain and anguish suffered by women worldwide, nothing is more agonizing than dealing with The Male Ego. A natural by-product from the Hunter gene, The Male Ego has illusionary qualities and is intangible in nature, so giving it a kick in the ass is out of the question. It has the same physical qualities of a human soul – so you know it exists but you’ve never actually seen it – but sometimes it could easily be mistaken for a poltergeist. To describe The Male Ego in more tangible terms, it will most likely resemble a creature that is an amalgamation of a peacock and a rat.
My very first encounter with The Male Ego was as a pre-teen, with my Father. “Doting” was never in his vocabulary and throughout my early years we fought like monkeys. I remember one particular day, when we spent the better part of the day arguing about how to make Jelly. He had a specific method in mind and I dismissed his approach and substituted it with my own (yeah I’ve always revolted against authority). Both of us had strong personalities and were hell bent in our ways, so it was always a power struggle of some sort (thankfully that changed in my mid teens).
My next rendezvous with The Male Ego was in early adolescence, with my very first infatuation. Now I was one Fugly Betty in my pre-Bosch & Lomb days with my thick glasses and braces and curly mop of hair all over the place. He was my aunt’s neighbour’s son and every holiday I’d conveniently move in so that I could polish those stalking skills. We were a bunch of kids spending our days playing insipid games, pranking the neighbourhood and entertaining ourselves for hours on end. But even back then, I was not one for subtleties and after months of friendly banter, flirting, equivocation and prevarication (fancy words for beating around the bush) I went up to him one day and declared my Sweet-Valley-High-version-of-love for him…in German. He stood silent and contemplative, staring at me, knowing full well what I’d disclosed to him. I had no expectations. I didn’t want anything from him. I just wanted him to know. And then I walked away casually, happy and relieved that I was unburdened with the heavy secret.
Then something weird happened. When we were alone in conversation – he’d open up and tell me all sortsa personal stuff. We’d talk for hours completely absorbed in each other, oblivious to everyone else. But the minute we were around other people, he’d pull a Merlin and magically transform into the biggest asshole I’d ever known. We fought a lot because of this and I’d often go for days without speaking to him…it was like my own personal Jihad against his Ego. I hadn’t stopped caring for him, but like a bad Jessica Simpson tune, he quickly plummeted to No. 13 on my Billboard Top 20 list.
It was when I got to Junior High School that I was forced to learn how to go to war with The Male Ego. The Indian Muslim guys were especially terrible, displaying their lack of respect and exerting their false sense of authority and dominance on the girls in their classes – behaviour and characteristics they no doubt learnt from their fathers. There were a few in my class who would tell the girls what to do, where to sit etc etc. All the girls always complied, either out of fear or because they saw nothing wrong with it – reactions they no doubt learnt from their mothers. Of course, all except moi; I had issues taking instructions from my own father, never-mind from a bunch of retarded hooligans. So they would try to terrorize me because I refused to conform. I say try because none of them ever succeeded or even came close.
My policy of “anything you can do I can do 1000 times better” meant that revenge was mandatory, always sweet and somewhat perverse. Some of the guys' would pull at the girls' bra straps from behind – meant to sting if it slammed back in place, or unhook if done properly. One guy made the mistake of trying to do that to me and got a pencil stuck 4 inches into his leg. They hated me; and would verbally abuse me whenever they could. I retaliated by recording everything they said to me on a tape-recorder and played it for all the head teachers and principle. Then I stood back and watched them cry like little girls when they got the shit beaten out of them in front of the entire school, while I laughed hysterically in their faces.
Tired of the drama, I changed schools and was introduced to La Dolce Vita- The Sweet Life. It was the equivalent of flying first class as a VIP on Emirates after years as a passenger on a cargo plane with goats, chickens and donkeys. There were guys (from all races, including Indian Muslims) oozing charm, respect and charisma, and I was swooning every day like a love-sick puppy. Chivalry was the school anthem and for the next few years I never had to pick up anything I had dropped on the floor, or open any doors, or carry any heavy loads etc. The Male Ego wasn’t out to hurt me and we became respected friends. I was singing hallelujah because I had left the zoo and all the filthy animals to swim with the dolphins in the blue tranquil waters of the open sea.
It is perhaps fortunate that I was unaware I was to joust with The Male Ego several times over the next decade, well into post-adolescence. Because had I known what awaited me, I would have seriously considered a monastery-ic lifestyle, bounded by seclusion. In the duration of the years that followed, I met every variation of The Male Ego, in every classification as well as all the sub-species associated to it. It was kinda like meeting every member in a family of reptiles; the snakes, the crocodiles, the lizards, the chameleons etc. They came in many forms; some of them were friends or family members, others potential ‘love’ interests. There were even a few complete strangers because The Male Ego knows no boundaries.
Once, I made the mistake of telling an acquaintance (Ego1) that I thought he was handsome. It was purely an observation on my part, with no romantic inclination what-so-ever…but it was like I had opened Pandora’s Box of delusions. For some reason Ego1 convinced himself that I was head over heels for him. I didn’t even know and had long forgotten about the compliment when I started noticing a change in his behaviour. Every time I was around he was flexing his muscles, puffing out his chest, running his fingers through his hair like the men in those Nivea commercials. It was when he began telling others in our social circle that I “wanted his ass” that I got peeved off. I went straight up to him, seething, “ …just because I gave you a compliment, it doesn’t mean that I want to marry you”.
Unfortunately for me, that wasn’t the first or the last time that I’d Waltz with The Male Ego and have him misconstrue it for a steamy Salsa session. I had a conversation with another acquaintance (Ego2) and offered him some Sprite (because I’m hospitable like that) and for some or other reason, he had also convinced himself that I was planning the wedding. And then all of a sudden I found it odd that whenever I was in a 2km radius, he went to great lengths to avoid me. I caught him off-guard a few times but there were times he’d even pretend not to see me. On one such occasion, I’d had enough of his shit, tapped him on the shoulder and said “Listen, I don’t like you – never have never will – so you can stop running and hiding like a pansy ok”.
It was Déjà-moo when the same thing happened with Ego3, but in reverse. Ego3 and I were never friends or acquaintances, nada. I knew him from my school days and that was just about it. I had absolutely no interest in him and we hardly ever spoke to each other. He was engaged to be married to his high school sweetheart. So it was peculiar then, to have him try to impress me whenever he could. I got the distinct feeling that he wanted me to like him. He wanted me to want him, even though he wasn’t interested in me romantically. Talk about Vain. It’s like his version of The Male Ego went out, got married to Narcissism and had a hundred little Egotistical babies.
When I lived in London, I encountered The Male Ego in friends who thought they could dictate how I lived my life:Ego4: Where are you going?
Me: I’m off to the HMV sale.
Ego4: You can’t go.
Me: Excuse you? Who died and made you daddy?
There was even an incident at a restaurant once, when I tried to locate our waiter to request an extra fork. Since she was not in plain sight, I looked around the room intently but at no one in particular. Two hours later and upon exiting, this freak approached me:Ego5: I saw the way you were looking at me and I liked it.
Me: If you’re talking to me, you’re mistaken.Ego5: Just admit it, I know you want me.
Me: Bwahahaha... Boytjie, I wouldn’t even piss on your teeth if your gums were on fire.
In a way, The Male Ego is a funny thing. It has the ability to inflate and expand to astronomical proportions, but the tiniest perforation will make that balloon pop so fast that it will literally disappear. My experiences have taught me a lot, made me cynical and sometimes defensive. BUT, I believe that even some of the so-called ‘bad’ guys are inherently ‘good’ in nature (because people in general can never be underestimated and are capable of all sorts especially when provoked by circumstance) but that their learned bad behaviour, sinister intentions, motives and actions is the mask that conceals the truth. People can be good people, but still do bad things...does that make them bad people? Not necessarily. It just means that they're asses because they don't make the right choices. Fortunately for us, there are still good guys out there, hidden in the crevices of life like rough diamonds amongst the rubble …I’ve encountered quite a few. Waseem, Irfaan, Edge, Mohamed, Uzayr are just a few of many that can testify to that ;)