Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Post for Men in which I Invite You to Be Friendly

On Sunday I finished making copies of the new month's YW calendar and was too late to find a seat in Sunday school. So I sat on the sofa in the foyer, which I will admit I do quite often during the second hour of church.

I was alone. Then a young father came up and sat across from me. He joked, "Hey, you're in the father's lounge." I laughed with him, but then I noticed his eyes were serious. If I could read his mind it would his next thoughts would have been, "Get out. Go gossip and chick-talk with your girl friends; this is man territory."

So I guess if someone has the gall to segregate the foyer by gender then it's up to me to integrate it.

I am the Rosa Parks of the Sunday School skippers. And I refuse to give up my seat.

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So this next thing has been on my mind for about a year now.

Most of my male associates are from church, so I don't know if this would also translate to the workplace or other places. So I guess I would have to limit this to "men at church."

But my generalization is: Many men are not friendly to women at church.

You know which men are friendly? The converts. Or the weirdies. Or my husband, who is neither.

I don't mean that the men are mean--I mean that they don't engage in the give-and-take, back-and-forth that it takes to make a friendship. Or at least a pleasant social relationship.

Bryce will confirm that the trait I value almost above all others is friendliness.

To me, it shows respect. If you're interested enough to ask questions, to listen and respond, it shows respect. It gives you something to build on. Maybe you'll like the person, maybe not. But you can at least smile.

Maybe I'm in the minority but I like to talk to groups other than other women; I like old folks, I like children, I like teenagers . . . and yes, I do like the different perspective I get from talking to men.

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Sometimes a meeting will have some downtime and the topic will turn to current events or politics. I hear all sorts of opinions, from the intelligent and substantive to the "I-think-I-heard-it-on-Rush-Limbaugh" sketchy. One time the lady I sat by rolled her eyes and said, "I have no idea what they're talking about."

But I do. And I love a good discussion that isn't about kids or food storage or that latest sale at Old Navy.



So I jump in. But when I do, I'm sometimes met with a dismissive glance.

Well.

Two words. UN. FRIENDLY.

Just because I'm not working doesn't mean that I'm not smart. Politics and current events are public domain for the self-educated and informed. There's no "Men Only" sign on newsworthy topics. It's not like I'm trying to dominate your discussion about prostate health.

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I don't think I ingratiate myself into private conversations . . . usually. But I'm human. Maybe I do.

Shouldn't we all like all kinds of people? We're all part of the human family. It makes life a lot nicer to be nice, to value each other's thoughts and view points.

Men are different, women are different, but I think it's ridiculous to act like they can't mix or the world will blow up. It's not flirting to be nice. It's not a waste of time to get to know people. You can have a professional relationship and still be respectful, warm, and cordial.

I'm glad for the men at church who are friendly to me--and to others.

I'm glad for the men in my LIFE who are friendly to me--and to others.

Most men don't care about Clinique Bonus time (in which I scored some pretties) any more than I care about the new app for the iPhone that fires gun shots (which I had demonstrated to me--or maybe AT me--on Sunday).

But there are lots of things we all do like. Or hate. Or eat. Or watch. Or hope for.

Come sit with me in the foyer next time and let's have a friendly chat.

I guarantee you we have more in common than you think.

8 comments:

HawgWildinWashington said...

You are so friendly...and you know what to say to make even the most obscure visitor welcome (that would be me)! You looked me in the eye, asked me questions about myself and appeared interested with my boring answers and you even talked with my daughter.. if I were an investigator I would love to meet more of you at church... it would make a difference :)

Dad77345 said...

And us OLD people appreciate it when you talk to us too!

brooklyn said...

this sparked a lot of reaction in me. i was on the phone last night until late talking to my single mother friend who has had two different married men in her church fall in love/infatuation with her and do completely inappropriate things and the wives have had to tell her that they can't hang out with her anymore. and she is NOT a flirt.

i have also had a disturbing relationship with a man friend from church with i'd had casual conversations and dinner invites from he and his wife. twice now he has called to hang out (lunch, dinner) alone and an email that was way too personal and inappropriate.

i have also had women think that i am flirting with their husbands when i thought i was just being generally nice.

my point is that you don't know what is going on in his head or why anyone is cold. maybe he has a crush on you and is trying to focus his thoughts in the right direction. maybe he has a very jealous wife that he needs to appease, maybe he is recovering from an affair, maybe he is struggling with his beliefs or membership. you just never know. i have had enough inappropriate advances that currently, i am thankful when a guy is cold to me.

i see what you are saying about being polite, but i don't think *nice* should be mandatory. but that's just me right now, in the aftermath of a heavy and disturbing conversation.

brooklyn said...

let me also add that i really do appreciate when a guy can be nice and you can tell they are just genuinely nice people, nothing more--bryce is a good example of that.

also, that i totally understand and share your wish for friendships with men. i wish there were more more men who were better at it. i have always been thankful for dave's friends for being cool with me.

Rebecca and Co. said...

Tara, you were very easy to talk to. :)

Dad, I like the "old folks" like you!

Brooklyn, you have shed a different light on this. Point taken. I've never had any of the things happen to me that you've described. Knock on wood.

One of my male FB friends used to comment on my status updates and then his wife friended me, whom I had never met. I got the vibe that she was keeping a little closer eye on him, for whatever reason. And he never commented on anything I wrote again! Like you said, maybe there was a reason for that.

But I still don't think it hurts to smile. We have too much grumpiness going on at church.

Hours said...

Unfortunately, when interpreting the bible alot of men take the idea that b/c they are "the head of the household" or "the leader in the family" in Christ that women are below men. This is so sad in so many ways. First of all, believing women are beneath men means the man is losing out on how smart women really are. I can follow and have ideas about politics, the bible, religion, money, the news and more... I also believe I have a lot to offer, and probably have a different way of looking at things. My husband always tells me that when I give him my outlook on things it can put a whole different spin on what his first thoughts were. Second of all, it turns alot of women AND men off to the church when they see men treating women in a subserviant way.

My husband doesn't go out to lunch with women alone, call them, or do anything unapproriate but he is ALWAYS nice. Religion takes such a beating, we should all work together, take advantage of what each one of us brings to the table, and for goodness sake.... BE NICE, say hello, heck... even go for some conversation! I promise, it won't hurt a bit! LOL

Rebecca and Co. said...

I agree with you, Christi.

Kelinn Beardall said...

Mike is nice to everyone- kinda like Bryce. I like it because sometimes while trying to chase three kids around church I never get to talk to anyone so I live vicariously through him when we get home and I ask how everyone is.

When there are those moments that I can finally stop and have an adult conversation, I don't care who's around, I talk to everyone. I especially love when the conversation does not center around how much someone spends on hair and nails-something I used to only get in mom-to-mom conversations on play dates.

I can totally relate to your post because I have had that coldness towards me too. Just keep being friendly, you've always been a nice person to everyone and there are those out there who need it.