Is this a man’s world?

I was wandering around the park on Saturday feeling sorry for myself that Abby, my girl golden, wanted to be with S, not me. And I was feeling bad that our walk wasn’t what she wanted — I wasn’t what she wanted. S was finishing Sunny’s last obedience class and Sunny was loving it. Abby whined the whole way around, kept looking back, and was fearful going on without our two guys.

The tennis courts were full of men — laughing, bonding, breathing hard. The basketball courts were filled with men and boys. All ages. Where were all the women? I don’t know, that’s the problem. If you’re a guy and you get up on Saturday morning and go play [insert sport here] with the guys, you’re probably not out there worrying about the groceries, housekeeping, or what your wife/girlfriend/mother is doing/thinking/feeling, unlike most women, who keep all the balls in the air at once.

Why does it seem like men are able to go off and be single, just BE, so much more easily than we can? I mean, where were all the women? What does a woman do without her husband/boyfriend/children on Saturday morning besides shopping/groceries/coffee-with-a-friend? And do any of those things sound remotely as interesting as playing tennis with the guys? Laughing, bonding, huffing, puffing, forgetting? It’s leisure with a capital L.

The only thing I can think of as leisure for women is the mani-pedi, spa thing or girl-shopping and neither of those lights me up with anticipation. Sports are rousing! Competition is invigorating! Fresh air, no formaldehyde cloud like the hair and nail salon. And women aren’t usually doing the competitive thing with each other anyway. We’re more likely to be looking for companionship and community than triumph. Women besting women? In sports, yeah, but not in daily life.

Ok, so there’s the book club…snooze. I love books. I even like to talk about them, but talking about books is not like smacking a ball back at someone.

So, what then? I guess I am upset that I, we(women) have no weekly outlet for aggression, no stress-busting Saturday. I’m 57 and haven’t been able to play sports for 20 years (I have CFS and Fibro). I used to play volleyball, badminton (and I was terrible at softball). But I miss dancing the most… aerobics, Jazzercise, anything to music, and nightclubs. I can and would consider calling a killer game of canasta a sport, but I haven’t played cards in years. I miss you grandma!

Leisure for me now is weekend errands, the bookstore and lunch with S at one of the two or three places we always go.

I admit I miss working. I don’t miss the workplace (ugh). But now that I am (semi) retired I need something to do on the weekend more than ever. Otherwise the days all blend until there is no weekday/weekend difference. Like hospital food, life becomes bland without something to spice it up. And like said bland diet, reminds you that you are old or ill.

There’s good reason I wasn’t playing tennis Saturday. And I enjoyed my short, relaxing walk. But I keep wondering, where were all the other women?

11 thoughts on “Is this a man’s world?

  1. Hi, Diana…

    Thanks for a thought provoking post. It’s interesting that you write that, “… men are able to go off and be single, just BE.” From a man’s prospective, women will, far more often, arrange to meet a friend (generally another woman) for coffee. Seems to me that women are far more able to enjoy each other’s company. Bill

  2. Hi Bill,
    Thanks for the link to your Adventure Retirement blog. I can certainly use that.

    I agree that many women handle intimacy reflexively and (if they’re lucky) have a depth to their interactions with other women that men don’t seem to have with other men. And maybe I am assuming that men don’t crave more intimacy with their sports friends.

    BUT… When women do meet for coffee we are most likely to talk about you, I mean our men, our children, our work, our problems. That’s a kind of work. Women never seem off duty from the emotional work of living. And yes, I do enjoy the company of another woman, having someone to commiserate and “get” me in a way my husband doesn’t. But that’s not “play”. Men seem to be able to maintain play throughout their lives. I don’t know many women that have play built in to their routine, do you?

    I’d love to hear more about the role of play in the lives of my readers… Any suggestions for women to build play into their lives? (excluding solitary pursuits, of which I have too many already.)

    Thanks Bill, I don’t hear from many men here!

  3. Hi, Diana… In our case — my wife’s and mine — she is actually more active with “play” than I am. While we both share some aspects of play — kayaking camping and hiking, she’s more inclined to include friends in intellectual and physical activities. Along with her friends, she shares book group, yoga, plus walking and groups. And, of course, meeting for coffee. Yes, I do go fly fishing with a friend occasionally. But regularly, I bike ride and life weights all by myself. In part, I suppose it’s a gender thing. Lonely? Yeah, sometimes. Bill

  4. Wow, your wife has it going on! Glad to hear it.

    I am going to put the blame for my sour puss on my CFS/Fibro, my dislike for where I live, and what I can and can’t do any more (hiking, yoga, and sweating — lol — are a “no” for me). I hope to be moving sooner than later to an area where I can enjoy life again.

    There are some earlier posts here that describe (at length) my dissatisfaction with this place so I won’t belabor it here. I take it your wife has some elemental things in common with the people she enjoys and I have found that difficult here. Lonely is the state I currently live in.

    I like your blog, by the way. Lots of great comments too. I was especially interested in the post on where to live in retirement, since I need to decide that very soon.

  5. I think it depends on who your friends are. I know several women who regularly do power walks together. I was invited to join one group and have declined because I like exercising at home. But I know that some women do manage to build friendships around exercise.

    The same is true for my mother in law by the way – at the age of 65 she joined a County Club, started swimming regularly and going to classes. There, she met a group of friends who now meet three times a week for exercise and breakfast at the club. So it can be done!

  6. Hi Vered, Glad to hear it’s still possible in some cities. Doesn’t look like it’s happening here though. I guess I was also nostalgic for the days when I could do vigorous exercise.

    I just was struck that day by all the men who seemed carefree. I didn’t see a corresponding amount of women (none, in fact) out there carefree and bonding on a nice Saturday. Where were all the women, I wondered. Probably keeping house or driving their kids around. That’s the suburban life here.

  7. Sunday morning for me is the crossword puzzle which even with 34 years of teaching and BA, MA I get 20 words at best. The next part of Sunday morning is go to the back yard and setting the puzzle on fire. How about cooking yourself that special little breakfast you never have time to prepare the rest of the week? Miami’s sunrise and sunsets are a fantastic explosion of crayons the viewing of which evaporates the anger over the stupid crossword puzzle. There’s always next Sunday….

  8. Hi Carl! So you’re a poet? I love poets.

    Yeah, I have enjoyed the contemplative life for many years, crosswords and all and I have the leisure to make my favorite breakfast every day of the week now if I choose (too fattening). What I was envying, craving, when I wrote this post was the involvement, action, challenge, and physical exhilaration that my life is missing now.

    I envy you your Miami sunrise and sunsets. If I had an ocean to look at every day, I think I could do without many other things. The ocean is alive, it’s mother earth — embracing, soothing and all-powerful.

    Good luck with your crossword. I have abandoned them for the time being. Too solitary. Oh, to have a good, hardcore canasta partner again!

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