On Men, Women, And “Understanding” Music

***Hello, people of VSB. Making his first ever guest post today is VSB regular Medium Meech. Please give him a warm welcome and shit.*** 
I have a girl who is a friend.  Not a girl that tries to be one of the guys or a girl in the friend zone. She is a girl without qualification and a friend without asterisks. (She also looks a lot like a girl who was a lot more than a friend, but I’ll address that later.)

One night a group of us are hanging out at her new place; our scarves indoors, prescription-less glasses, and inane conversations making it seem like a scene from “The Best Man” but with the dialogue from “Next Friday.”

I’m not sure if somebody swapped out her Skinny Girl sangria with Wild Irish Rose or if the combination of Issey Miyake and Polo Black aftershave keyed a chemical reaction with her pheromones but something was up. She grabbed her IPod and put on an R&B playlist.  Lovely. I’m a little fuzzy on the sequence of events that led up to what happened next, I was tipsy, but I do remember hearing “Dangerously in Love” and I clearly remember hearing words pass from my friend’s lips that I never imagined I’d hear HER say:

“Beyoncé is one of the top 5 R&B artists of all times”

In my moment of exasperation, I shared with her the commonly held belief among men that women just don’t have the capacity to really understand music.  She laughed. But it wasn’t one of her “Boy you so crazy!” laughs. No, it was one of her strategically condescending “It isn’t that I could ever forget how infantile your thought process is, it’s just that you never cease to present me with new benchmarks for the the sheer depth of your idiocy, and the fact that I’m surprised each and every time is what I find so droll, so it’s not even about you” laughs/scoffs, which are usually followed by long pauses for dramatic effect.

She eventually told me “It’s not that men (me) have some deeper understanding of music, it’s just that men (Again, me. She kept saying men in general but we both knew she was talking about me) turn music and everything else into some pissing contest where they confuse dissent with ignorance, and try to argue personal opinion like it’s fact.”

Her apparent hypocrisy aside, she had a point. Generally speaking, men do not see music objectively. And our attempts to assert our personal opinions as factual absolutes on something as inherently subjective as music are really just a function of the perspective we see music from.

The girl that my girl/friend reminded me of was an early high school girlfriend. It’s funny because we had a moment over music as well. The CD was Maxwell’s Embrya.  I had the house to myself, and I invited her over. This was my first real relationship (by high school standards) so I was trying to get my grown man on, hence a teenager breaking out a Maxwell CD. But it’s not like I didn’t know anything. I’d seen the love scene with Jada Pinket and Blair Underwood in “Set it Off”. I knew how this was supposed to go down. That’s why I grabbed a box of birthday candles out of the pantry and threw them under my bed in case things got real and I needed to take it up a whole ‘nother level.

I was barely out of middle school so I didn’t know what say to a girl alone in my room. But that’s what the Maxwell was for. I didn’t know what to say to let her know I was smooth and mature (I wasn’t), but in my testosterone-infected mind playing Maxwell would.

I was at that age where I was trying to assert my individuality by distinguish my identity form everyone else’s. You may not get this unless you’re from the South, but listening to Maxwell in high school is definitely breaking away from the status quo. But most importantly, I really liked the CD.  It was a proxy for my nascent romantic notions that I had no chance of putting into words. So Embrya was not only the stand in for the game I didn’t have, but also the feelings I couldn’t express and the part of me she could accept and relate to.  

And that is exactly what music is for guys at that age, a voice for the changing emotions we’re socialized not to express and a projection of ourselves. In a lot of ways we define ourselves through our music. My teenage angst and anemic exhibitions of aggression found a voice in NWA, 2pac, Eminem and Metallica. The Goth kids used the conveniently nomenclatured genre of Goth music to express their estrangement from the mainstream and discontent with conformism. My sense of introspection and reflection found homes in Talib, CL smooth, Bach and Playa Fly. And these weren’t necessarily voices that had to be shared with other people, it was mostly about making sense of those feelings myself.

Later on when I talked to my then girlfriend about us vibing over the Maxwell she enjoyed the experience of me sharing something I liked with her more than the music itself. It’s not that she didn’t like it, (the CD or music in general) it just wasn’t THAT deep to her.  It made sense now that I knew her better.  She never really had problems expressing the emotional aspect of her being because society provided her (and other girls/women) plenty of outlets to do so.  By the time high school rolled around she was pretty familiar with her emotional landscape, I was like a Quaker visiting Vegas for the first time. The bright lights just didn’t move her.

So what I internalized as nearly sacred and something that helped complete me as person, she never had to because that part of her was intact and thriving. That emotional wholeness is probably why she (and women in general), just like music, served and continues to serve as a medium to the under-excavated part of who I am.

So the reason men try so hard to make absolute something so subjective as music is because it truly is personal.  It’s human nature to substantiate anything that makes up a part of your identity, even if it is subjective.  Go to a church or a sporting event in any part of the world to see what I’m talking about.  Or just ask a 35-year-old man about his hairline.

And that brings us back to my friend/girl that reminds me a lot of my high school girlfriend.  That conversation we had about music that night helped me realize something else about our relationship.  Friendship between men and women is anything but objective or cut and dry.  For the reasons I gave above, I talk about the parameters and conditions of our friendship in absolutes, just like I do with music.

I’m still trying to work out what that means though.

 —Medium Meech

(More)Things That Men Struggle To Understand That Women Do

I will wash my ass with this soap.

This ain’t funny so don’t you dare laugh, but some men just don’t understand some things that women do. I’m fairly sure I’ve written about this before. I’m also fairly sure that I can’t find the post where I may have done so. So I’m adding to it based on new convos with new ninjas. And this isn’t one of those #womenarecrazy tirades that us menfolks are becoming so famous for. Nope. This is more of a “y’all do this and I truly don’t get it” things. Generalization alert swag.

Generalize deez. Which I’m fairly sure is both a pun AND a possible title for the new movie coming out directed by Spike Lee and written by Tyler Perry and T.D. Jakes. That sh*t cray.

So, back to the lecture at hand. Over the course of my life, I’ve spent a significant amount of time around many many womens. From my various sisters (real spit, I’ve got a lot of sisters, we’re damn near Mormon), to the women I’ve dated, to the daughter that I’m raising that will grow into a woman, I’ve borne witness to many a thing that I just couldn’t quite make sense of. Some of those things that I couldn’t quite make sense of has gotten me in trouble since, well, if I don’t understand it, then I’m inclined not to respect is gangsta and either…you know what…let’s dive in.

LOUGANIS! <—-old school reference like a motherf*cker.

1. Decorative…anything

Pillows. Soap. Bathroom towels. I HATE decorative pillows. Actually, I hate EXCESSIVE amounts of decorative pillows. And it seems that you can only have excessive amounts of decorative pillows. Especially on beds. Why the f*ck does ANYBODY need 15 pillows on a bed. THAT NOBODY WILL SEE BECAUSE NOBODY IS ALLOWED IN THE GROWN FOLKS BEDROOM ANYWAY? Don’t even get me started on decorative soap. Actually, let’s start.

I will use your decorative soap. It’s almost my defiant rebellion against your damn soap that just wants to be used. It’s soap. It needs to be used in order to be validated as soap. If a stripper never claps her ass, is she a stripper? If soap never gets a sud, is it soap? I say no. It’s just a block of glycerin that’s getting laughed at by the Zest and other soaps in the bathroom. Same goes with your monogrammed decorative towels.

Moral of the story: don’t let me use the bathroom with the “nice” sh*t in it.

2. Poofs

I’m talking about those spa shower poof things. Full disclosure: I bought one because 1) a guy I fully respect has one and I figured that if its good enough for that ninja its good enough for me..respect; and 2) I wanted to see what the big deal was with a damn poof. Every woman has one. And I’ve realized that they make no functional sense.

WhatyoutalkinboutPanama?

Glad you asked.

Question: how does one wash their ass if all you use in the shower is your poof? You can’t tell me that you use the poof in your ass and then put it on your face the next go ’round? That’s why ninjas like me wash their washclothes daily. I stay with a stockpile of washclothes for this purpose. But explain to me the poof? I need to know.

I NEED TO KNOW!!

3. Lotion regimens

I’ve brought this up before and even wrote a whole post about it that I’m too lazy to go find, but what is the damn deal with so many lotions and sh*t. (I came in the door) I said it before that I use Palmer’s all day. And I’ve been told that its too heavy for summer time. Yet my skin roars baby. It glistens. And yes those last two sentences are likely 86% gay. But its true. Y’all skin ain’t that much different and the bottoms of many of y’allsis feet STILL could light matches. So what gives with the various regimens that don’t solve whatever problem you’re trying to solve.

I’m on my man sh*t. I need to unnadig.

4. Constant clothes jacking

I could write (and probably will) a whole post about the serious advantages to dating for women and this will make the list: whyfore come y’all STAY stealing our clothes? Look, I get it. You all want our tshirts. One? That makes sense. Two. Okay…you’re getting a little klepto on me but still, I can deal. But when you all clear out our undershirts and we have to go to buy 8-packs for 19.99 of tshirts JUST to have some to wear, well that’s going to f*cking far. What’s up with the outright disrespect for our need to have stuff like wifebeaters (though there ain’t a man alive that doesn’t like seeing a woman in a wifebeater) and tshirts? Why is it that the longer I know you, the less of these things that I have??? This has been consistent since I was 18. What gives womanthieves!?!?!??!?!?

So, ladies…I want answers. Fellas what else do you want to know? And ladies, any questions of us?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. DO YOU MIND IF I LOTION YOU UP? aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

 

Movies That All Women Should See To Understand Men

This is what male friends get their other friends into. It's how we show we care, ladies!

Perhaps understand is a strong word, but here we go now, holler if you here me though come and feel me flow.

Ahem.

I think it’s fairly safe to state that men and women will never truly understand one another. We can all agree on that right? Good. However, that won’t stop all of us from trying to gain some sort of competitive advantage in order to best navigate the murky waters of the heart. Obviously, women will spend beaucoup dinero trying to figure out men…or at least until they find a man and get married. I actually wonder if women care as much about this sh*t after they end up married. Luckily, something like 163 percent of Black women will never end up married – statistically speaking, that is. I may or may not have made that up.

And I don’t think men really care that much. But let’s assume that we all care and want to figure each other out from a sincere and earnest place. Now picture Earnest going to jail. Thank you.

Movies are a great source of nutrition and protein.And they’re also a great way to learn about men (or women). There are a few movies that I think do a good job of accurately showcasing the types of conversations we have and the way we really think about situations we find ourselves in. Such as?

Such as.

1. 40-Year Old Virgin

Are men’s methods largely misguided a lot? Absolutely. But do most of our misguidances come from a well intentioned place? Of course. Are our conversations ridiculous? Mmhmm. Do we tend to overfocus on the tang? Yep. But isn’t the pursuit of happiness in the Magna Carta? Maybe. Point is, this movie perfectly illustrates true friendship and wanting to see your boys happy. Which is largely how most men live our lives. We just want happiness. By the way, this (and every other conversation in this movie is as real as it gets ladies…yes, this really happens).

Cal: Here’s what you do. You tell her you’re a virgin. You test her with this sh8*t, okay? Here, tell me. Tell me. This is how it’s gonna go. Tell me.
Andy Stitzer: I’m a virgin.
Cal: Sweet! I like that because I know you don’t have… chlamydia. I *know* that. I mean, that sh*t is everywhere.

2. The Wood

The Wood is one of my favorite movies. I related so hard to this movie that every time it goes off I get sad that they didn’t keep going thru the rest of their lives. Here’s how men’s friends really do work. There’s always the one who thinks he’s the pimp. Always. Then you got the one who always plays the mediator and stays level-headed…or tries too. Then you definitely always have the loud mouthed funny one. If there are 3 or 76 dudes who call themselves friends, you’re going to get some iteration of all three over and over again. And yes, 90 percent of us bet on our virginity. I mean, wait, none of us ever did that. We’d never.

3. The Lion King

Most of our daddies are absentee like a motherf*cker. And we’re all running from something. It hurts. I mean, I know my daddy. So it doesn’t hurt me so much. But I can’t lie, I’d be mad as hell if his brother threw him off a ledge then came up in my house and ate my food and drank my wine. And Nala was kind of banging in a lion next door kind of way. I think that’s who Musiq was singing about in Just Friends, Buddy, Homey, Chickfriend, Can’t Marry You Cuz You My Friend But I’d Smang,  and Pal.

4. The Best Man

Really, the worst offense you can commit as a friend is to bang the homey’s girl. The Best Man got all the convos right. The hotel scene where they’re talkign about Harper’s women situation was so on point it was scary. Plus…getting damn near thrown off a roof is pretty much a rite of passage in the life of a man. It happened to me just twice this weekend. But back to banging the homey’s girl. Ladies if you ever over hear a convo between two dudes and one says, “yo, I wouldn’t even sleep with your girl man…” you know they are real friends. Just ask Nicky Barnes.

5. Taken

As I watched Taken for the first time, I found myself getting so emotionally invested. They took his kid. His daughter. You do NOT mess with a man’s family. This movie illustrates the mentality of man who’s got a singular purpose and is willing to die for it. For many men, our family becomes that. Extended family, cousins, and ninjas who only ask for money though don’t get that treatment. See also: Man On Fire. The lesson here? If you take white girls, you will get dealt with.

Alright, those are a few movies that help women see a man’s mentality and/or how we talk and operate fairly accurately. What are others though? Let’s help the ladies out.

And ladies…what are some movies men should watch if we want to understand women? And please refrain from mentioning The Notebook. We know…and we hate it.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka CINEMA JACKSON aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3