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My dad sends me this quote which reads: "Life is like a penis - simple, relaxed and hanging free. It's women who make it hard!"

This statement, amusing as it is accurate, finds corroboration in of all places the ancient scriptures. In the Srimad Bhagavatam section dealing with the creation of the universe we find the following passage, paraphrased in the interest of clarity:

"The first humans were saints, who, immediately upon being created, fell into deep meditation finding no interest in the things of the world. Thus, through them, the Lord saw no possibility of propagation of the human species. While the Lord was meditating upon what course he should pursue, his own form divided himself; one half became man and the other half became woman; and from them have sprung all mankind."

You see, only when God created woman did man take interest in the affairs of life!

Now I am no expert on the topic of relationships. But what I do know a great deal about is my own life, and personal experience seems to accord with this quaint quote, and rather faithfully.

For ever since I was a child my life has been dominated by females. Up until my twenties it was my mother who ran the show. Mom would tell me what school I'd be attending, what sports I'd play, who I'd be friends with. My father would then pay for these activities, and pick me up when I was done. And I'd do what I was told.

I played soccer and baseball per my mother's orders, attended UCLA as she wished me to, and other things I won't get into here, but which have been a source of retrospective strain, since I blame my mother for "making" me behave a certain way, when I could easily have said no. But such is a woman's influence. Hell hath no fury like her wrath, and earth no thunder like her power. I'll have to think of a more catchy quote.

Under my mother's tutelage my life wasn't the saying's "hard." Yes it was quite busy, some including myself might even say it was "high performance," but my mom saw to it that enjoyment did not get short shrift. Since after all I was an extension of her, and she loves to have fun too. So growing up involved lots of movies and pizza between trips to karate and piano lessons and summer camps and Indian guides and you name it I did it as a child. And my father would foot the bill.

I somehow managed to avoid serious romantic relationships for most of my twenties, although the one girl I did get serious with, Isabella, my mother approved of enough to design an engagement ring for and all but place it on her finger. And I would foot the bill. I was learning a man's place. But alas, Isabella and I were not to be, and it was as I neared thirty that Shannon took over my mother's duties, and ran my life.

It was to Shannon that I owe three of my biggest life-shaping decisions. Under her insistence I got my first and only job that required a college degree. She insisted I take this credentialing exam to "explore my options," even took the test with me, and a few month's later I was teaching high school English in the inner city.

I was also doing Shannon's bidding when I moved out of my childhood home and into my own apartment for the first time. She didn't say you have to move out of the house, only if you want to see me you need your own place, because I can't keep driving all the way up to your mom's for a screw. I use a measure of literary license in quoting her, although saying the sex was not too shabby is a bit of understatement. The sex was good; it was my apartment that was shabby.

Come to think of it Shannon gave me a bit of an ultimatum before all this, which is how I wound up dating her in the first place. We had become best of friends at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress and I tended bar. We had all the same shifts and would often spend nights eating take-out and watching videos. Just cuddling. Things were just fine the way they were, if you ask me. But it became a case of "I think I'm falling in love with you," and if we wanted to remain best of friends we'd better start dating. Either that or she'd find a boyfriend and our friendship would suffer. It was inevitable, said Shannon. I couldn't disagree. So we started doing more than just cuddling, which I alluded to earlier.

Move out, get a job teaching. Work out between classes. Write my novel in the morning and at night. Suddenly my life was hard. But the sex was good. I might not have done any of this had it not been for Shannon or some girl. Like Bryan Adams sings, "Everything I do, I do it for you." Most guys are the same way. We like things simple. A decent meal, roof over of our heads, something that passes for entertainment and can include porn, which doesn't exclude a regular lay. To get this we don't need girlfriends, though for help with laundry, shopping and cooking the woman's touch is often a must. I'm my own maid. And it is not the girl who makes a guy's life hard. We agree to Huxley's "sweaty life," the life of toil over simplicity for the sake of getting and keeping our girls. Girls, we love you that much. That or we're just desperate for sex. Maybe a bit of both.

And it was Shannon who helped me get into medical school. I told her I had been flirting with the idea of grad school and expected her to laugh me out the door, but instead she went online, found a good program, and put the application on my desk. Three months later I was studying human anatomy halfway around the world. Medical school is one of the accomplishments I'm most proud of, because it involved such a sustained effort, and for so long. I'm good at short bursts of intensity, but four years begins to feel like a slog before even the first 12 months are up.

By the end of my first term, Shannon and I had broken up. The strain of being away from each other proved too much, and I think we both new we were better off as just friends. Heck, maybe that's why she pushed me so hard to get my MD, so she could get me out the door! We lasted 2 1/2 years, not shabby for a guy who prefers short intense bursts. So I became a doctor, she a therapist and a mother of three. When it was all done I moved back in with my mom. Once again my life is like a relaxed penis, simple and hanging free. My mom is done pushing me, and I'm done seeking out girls to make things hard. I can do that on my own, thank you very much.

Girls, go easy on your men. You can get us to go your way on some things, most things, but not everything. If he doesn't want to push the stroller or hang out with your mother go easy on him, and value his sanity. You can't change who a guy is, and pushing him too hard in one direction will either make for a miserable guy who ever so subtly takes it out on you, or cause a backlash that hurts you both. Then you wind up alone, but like Shannon and I, with oh so many sweaty memories.

You can't change who a person is, but you can be so wonderful that he'd be out of his wits not to want to change for you. If that gal exists, I just haven't met her.


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