I’ve always shared a love-hate relationship with the females in my life – I love them, they hate me. In fact, at many parties and other convivial occasions, I’ve seen women glance empathetically at my wife with the sort of expression in their eyes that they might cast upon a painting of one of the early Christian martyrs at an art gallery. I’ve come to know from reliable sources that ladies generally swoon at the prospect of spending an evening out with me – and go into hiding as soon as they regain consciousness.
Some of this state of affairs, I admit, is my own construction. When I entered college, I was determined to be a cowboy (apart from being a doctor of course; I reckoned that with the professional hazards that a gun-fighting cowboy generally encountered, medical knowledge might come in handy), and though I had never ridden a horse, I could draw a water-pistol out of my trouser pockets with the speed of lightning. As all readers of Louis L’Amour and Oliver Strange would recollect, cowboys are very particular in their misogyny and regard the female of the species with rather thinly veiled contempt – until of course they meet that special woman who causes a stirring in their hearts (and presumably in some lower portion of their anatomy as well). So you can say that at that stage of my life, my relationship with females was based on the hate-hate equation.
To make matters worse, I made the acquaintance of a batchmate whose name was Dinesh, and who as I soon learned, had a draw that was even faster than mine. And since he had actually ridden a horse at some school fair, I became absolutely devoted to him. Now Dinesh was even more ardently dedicated to the misogynist principle in ‘The Cowboy’s Manual’ than me. When he grew weary of target practice with his airgun on a cardboard target hung on the hostel-room wall, he taught me to fire paper-bullets at the cheeks (facial that is) of the girls during lectures, using a rubber band as the launcher.
“I help them to be rosy-cheeked without makeup,” he explained.
The girls however were much less appreciative of this philanthropy and my chances as a future Casanova took a considerable beating as a result. This continued for a while; but if there is one thing that I have learnt in life, it is that though a man can fight his destiny, he can never fight his glands. Day and night they screamed their demands to me, until to Dinesh’s intense disgust, I was forced to admit that misogyny was not my cup of tea; in fact philogyny was a better description of my true inclinations. By the time I realized this however, my reputation was already made, and as acute observers of feminine character would agree, once a woman’s mind is made up it is impossible to change it with anything short of brain transplantation. So there I was, stuck with a cowboy’s reputation and a Casanova’s aspirations – just what I deserved, my distaff readers would probably exclaim at this point. But be charitable ladies, I adjure you; a man is entitled to a mistake or two in his youth, I say.
Despite the elephantine character of a female’s memory, I believe I might I have still made it in the end, but for two insuperable encumbrances. Firstly, my nose. Romantic literature, I believe, lays a lot of stress on the role of the eyes in fostering intimate relations between opposite sexes of a species; but first one has to get past the nose to make better acquaintance with the eyes. My nose was neither Roman nor Greek (the two most renowned nosy nationalities), nor was it of any other type that is generally encountered in heroic descriptions in world literature. Possibly, the best description that a perceptive female critic once gave it was a cross between a cauliflower and a potato, and as numerous studies published in ladies’ magazines have shown, women are least attracted to this category of noses. Another female critic observed that my nose was the best argument in favor of the more widespread availability of plastic surgery. And despite the widespread knowledge of the theory propounding a directly proportional relationship between the size of the nose (see illustration below) and a certain discreet organ in the male, girls seemed strangely reluctant to test out the veracity of it by direct observation.
Even more than the nose however, the problem was that the feminine presence affected me in either of two ways – I became as taciturn as a rock afflicted with mutism (habitual readers of ‘Penthouse Letters’ may have misconstrued my meaning if I had written that I became as stiff as a rock), or worse still, a sort of ictus affected me so that my body tied itself into knots and paroxysms of hyena-like laughter erupted from my throat. Either of these phenomenons invariably made my lady companions to prefer to be in Beelzebub’s company if the only other alternative available was mine.
And this was the story of my life, until I met my wife that is – but that is a story for another post you know.