Under Pressure–and Under Cars

Today I fixed my car bumper all by myself.

(I’m inserting an extra break so you have time to let that sink in.)

No offense guys, but you men are nothing special.

I can hear my friend Samantha in my head now admonishing me for man-hating.  In my defense, I only say that now because I’m feeling pretty good about myself for accomplishing something I didn’t think I could do that is traditionally a guy interest.  Today I have grease and dirt under my nails and on my shirt and ratty jeans.  There was a streak on my face before I washed it.  My hair is coming out of the elastic I put it up in before I crawled underneath my vehicle.  I am thrilled most especially about the grease and dirt on my jeans.  They already have massive rips in them–the real kind that were put there by use rather than some designer–and now I have matching stains to go with them.  Normally I try to stay clean, but today I feel like the grime is a badge of honor, a testimony to my usefulness.  It feels pretty fantastic.

Girls, guys are totally holding out on us.  Everyone knows the best way to keep something from a woman is to keep it in plain sight.  You see, we are nosy by nature and can ferret out anything in two ticks; put something right in front of us, however, and we develop a complete lack of attention.  Even though men cannot seem to remember this when they lie, they remember it well when it comes to things like, oh, fixing things.  There is an immense satisfaction to be had in handy things like mounting a coat rack on the wall or fixing your own car bumper.  What is next?  Changing my own oil?  Maybe.  After that?  Rule the world?  I think so.

And then I want a man to bring me a sandwich and a cold glass of milk.

Because I don’t drink beer.

Handyman satisfaction is not just for handy men anymore.

Who really needs men anyway?  Oh.  Right.  That would be me.

But this haughty question came to mind as I was rejoicing in my usefulness today.  And it made me think.  I like to feel useful.  Feeling useful means someone out there probably needs me.  We are a society that looks down on people who don’t work.  Why?  Because people need to be useful to society, right?  People who are not productive members of society are useless, unneeded baggage who need only to be shot and put out of everyone else’s misery.  (That is the actual phrase people use, productive members of society; am I the only one who thinks this sounds terribly overbearing, like corporate America jargon?)

So is this need to feel needed something I actually feel?  Or is it a learned need I have?  Has society fooled me into thinking that I need to be useful to the rest of society, to be needed by someone, in order to be worthy of my own life?  I often wonder how much of my personality is really what I feel and how much is what I think based on the pressures of the culture and society in which I grew up.  I can’t understand a biological reason for this need except as a way to push people to survive in tribes before there were cities and the like.  Maybe it’s part of our DNA to want to feel needed so that we can be the social creatures that we are, to–dare I say it?–be team players.

Other than that, I have no opinion.

Today I add change my own car oil to my bucket list.

On a completely related note, I find myself in need of a manicure.


7 thoughts on “Under Pressure–and Under Cars

  1. hahaha. I think it’s funny that you mentioned me in this. Yes, you know me well. I won’t admonish you for man-hating. I don’t know; I’m just weird–I don’t even think of things in terms of gender at all. haha. If I do something that’s sort of manly, I just think “I’m awesome!” without any sort of thought towards guys at all. I’ve got a sort of androgynous mind, I guess. I dunno.

    You have every right to feel proud of yourself, not just for doing something that guys usually do, but for doing something that you wouldn’t usually do, and being self-sufficient.

    This need to be needed that you speak of–I certainly can attest to that very sort of need. It might be what drives my desire to be a mother, because no one needs you more than a child that can’t do anything of it’s own volition. I think that partly it is a primal feature of the human psyche, derived from our social natures. It’s a way, I think, that we can survive more readily. But otherwise, I just think it creates a sense of stability. I know for me that if someone NEEDS me, they won’t leave or forsake me. Also, though–it just feels good to feel useful, like you were describing. Being useful, feeling needed–I think it’s something that connects us deeply to other human beings. As they say, A friend in need is a friend indeed–and maybe more applicable: “Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.” – Storm Jameson. It gives us purpose in life, I think. And I do think that all human beings are born with that question on their mind and in their hearts–“What is the meaning of life? Why am I here?” … especially those of us who are a little more philosophical.

    If it makes you feel any better, I need you. You’re one of the few philosophical females I know, one of my few friends who seems to have an invested interest in me and actually gives a crap about what’s going on with me and furthermore, you’re just an all-around cool cat.

    • Sam, I think it’s silly to pretend that some interests aren’t traditionally masculine interests while others are traditionally feminine. I think you appreciate the fact that men and women are different–not bad, not one worse than the other, both having their places–just different. Usually. I like that those lines waver and cross and fade in some places, but I hate the idea that they’ll fade entirely. I wish guys had an easier time adopting feminine interests. I mean, girls are okay to like anything and it’s accepted, but if men like feminine things they are pretty much laughed out of the boys’ club. It’s a nasty double standard.

      I also realized today while I was at work–and this made me smile hugely–that of the two people who commented on this post, one is an extreme feminist, and the other values extreme traditionalism–and the feminist is a man while the traditionalist is a woman. I laughed out loud.

      I love that quote you gave by Storm Jameson. I’m going to write that down in my journal. I like what you said also about how being needed can be a means to tie a person to you. Isn’t it crazy how we tend, though, to only want to take care of people who are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves? If someone (adult) is incapable, it becomes a chore. We value self-sufficiency, and yet when we find that self-sufficient person we endeavor to make them partially dependent on us, whether emotionally or in some other way. Maybe everyone is as completely romantic as I am deep down. It’s a nice thought.

      I don’t really feel a driving need to know why I’m here. And I’m a staunch believer that life has no greater purpose or meaning except to be enjoyed and to figure out what makes us happy and to go about accomplishing it without infringing on the happiness of others. Atheist life is beautifully uncomplicated in a lot of ways. Hehe.

      I’m going to pretend that last paragraph didn’t make my eyes water up a little bit. Thanks, Samantha.

  2. Sorry, got cut off. Where was I…

    You are. That us all I ‘need’ of you. What I want from you is for you to let me bring you a sandwich and a glass of milk.

    • You have some interesting thoughts, but I think maybe you were misled by my comments on useless people in society as to what my blog was really about. I think society just puts a pressure on us to make us want to feel useful to others, is what I was saying.

      There is also a biological factor to consider, that maybe women have an inherent need to be useful in a nurturing kind of way, but I didn’t mention it because it didn’t really spring to mind, what with my having fixed my car bumper. That was a practical kind of usefulness.

      However, I appreciate the offer to bring me a sammich. Turkey on wheat with muenster and mayo, per favore. 😉 Whole milk.

  3. The way you described yourself after crawling out from under your car? Hot. Very hot. Scorching. I wanted to make you a sandwich.

    While the grease smeared imagery was certainly an element of my reaction the biggest component was something else: self reliance. I respect that a great deal. We built societies to accomplish what we can’t do as individuals, not so that we could force someone else to do those individual task we don’t want to do ourselves.

    Useless people, to me, are those that are capable but refuse to take care of themselves. While I could make a good argument for shooting them id prefer to let them suffer the consequences of their decisions. Hunger us a hell of a motivator.

    The helpless are a category apart from the useless. I think responsibility to the helpless falls to their family. I think charity is a great way for non-family members to help them, but that it shouldn’t be forced at the point of a gun.

    No individual, in my view, has any obligation to be useful to anyone else except in that rare circumstance they have a helpless dependent. Every individual has an obligation to be useful to their self.

    You are. That is all I ‘nee

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