Getting a lesson on women, relationships, and computer networking.
I once worked for a ladies' magazine called Tango. And I only call it a ladies' magazine because a lady founded it. And it was about love and relationships (not something most dudes read voluntarily, I suppose). And it was mostly staffed by ladies. I learned a lot about changing water cooler bottles, moving furniture, computer networking, you know, guy sh*t. It's not to say that women can't be really, really good at lifting stuff or making computers talk to each other, but I have a feeling that it was a kindness to me. Working for a ladies' magazine, in their estimation, had to be emasculating enough for a young rascal from the dirty dirty living in New York.
I can picture them getting together and saying things like, "Hey, do we have anything that needs to be constructed, hoisted, or killed? Let's pretend that we absolutely just can't do it and he'll feel so good when he saves the day. Someone has to jump on the grenade and comment on his biceps. Donna*, I think it's your turn." Hook, line, and sinker. As I dictate this to my stenographer I'm actually doing the reeling-'em-in 2 person dance move to myself in the mirror. Lovely.
I was excited about starting at a ladies' magazine, especially one about love, relationships and sex. How metropolitan. I needed tips. I'd dated one girl exactly two months at that point and was (am) hopelessly under-prepared for anything as substantial as grownup, human feelings (sorry, I was only 26, not all of us have mustaches when we're 15). Going into this thing I knew 6 things about romantic relationships; 1) men forget but never forgive, women forgive but never forget; 2) women love compliments, "women are ravenous blood-sucking monsters always wanting more" (yeah, Homer Simpson); 3) men would rather overpay for the specific thing they're looking for and women would rather get a good deal on something that they're not sure if they even want; 4) the girls have the buns and the boys have the hotdogs; 5) men talk to women to get them to have sex with them, women have sex with men to get them to talk to them**; and 6) some women may, for their own reasons, like to see me naked underneath them.
I'm not sure if any of those things are true any more (except #4 but that one was almost "boys go to Mars to get candy bars and girls go to Jupiter to get more stupider"). I was, clearly, out of my element. So, I listened intently, read all of our articles, and sometimes even peeked in the other ladies' magazines that were lying around the office (who knew Eva Longoria had that much to say?). But where were all the sweet invites to parties with unhealthily thin people drinking dirrrrrrrrty Martinis while hoping that tiny women in pointy shoes think they're cool? Where was the late-night, underwear-only pool crashes with the cast and crew of a sexy photo shoot? And where the hell was an invitation to the red carpet premiere of Scary Movie 4? Maybe it was a down year for magazines, I mean Time's Person Of The Year was me that year. Or maybe I was in charge of the bricks and mortar so that the ladies could go shake it up and be sure that the place wouldn't be ransacked by ravenous compliment-seekers looking under every rock, desk, iMac, and water cooler while they chatted up Christopher Meloni (and failed to ask him about his role as Gene in Wet Hot American Summer).
And it turns out that being in an office full of ladies wasn't much different than being in an office of mixed company. They didn’t all share the same menstrual cycle (Christ, maybe they did). The place didn't smell like a perfume factory (nor a French whorehouse). Sometimes a few of them even drank beer. And not even once did I get seriously propositioned to prove that I like girls. Though I did pull the HR card once or twice when the questions got a little too familiar for my taste (yes, Kenneth, there is a Santa Claus).
Sure I learned a few things about grown-up relationships along the way. Mostly that people do crazy things, honesty is good, and two-way communication is prett-y important. I didn't learn the magic word that makes underpants fall off, I didn't learn how to win every argument, and I didn't learn how to 'blow up' any lady with a single touch (though I'm firmly convinced the female orgasm exists, baby steps). Yep, it's all still a mystery. I should probably think about giving Sean Avery and the New Jake a call to compare notes.
*It's a fake name, no one is named Donna anymore.
**Good call, Dad.