Sunday, January 28, 2007

It's All Good to Me

I have always loved Tyra's body. Why? Because she was a fashion model with hips and breasts. I always found it peculiar that all her runway pictures from the mid-nineties showed her with her breasts smashed flat like some flapper from the twenties as if the fashion designers were afraid someone would realize she had the body of a real woman instead of the pre-pubescent boys they seemed to favor. Now they are at it again.

Tyra Banks is five-foot-ten inches tall and one hundred and sixty one pounds. She also has DD breasts and hips. That ain't fat. That's a woman. There are millions of women who would kill to look like her and men who would help them bury the bodies. She has breasts and hips and she even has a bit of an ass now. Tyra, you are perfect.

Now, despite my lusting for her physical proportions, I can't honestly say that I am a Tyra Banks fan. Something about her personality still rings false and shallow for me. I suspect that the more she divorces herself from that dehumanizing, superficial, misogynistic industry she was a part of for so many years, the more her personality will grow. Now, she still feels to me as if her emotional maturity arrested at the age she entered the fashion industry. An eighteen-year-old in a thirty-three-year-old's body. The type of things she is exposing herself to on her new talk show will no doubt help with this. There is, in fact, evidence that it is helping already such as the way she has responded to the controversy over her weight gain.

Rather than rush off to a fat farm or run out and higher dietitians and personal trainers, she simply and unapologetically stated that yes, that was her. Yes, she did gain weight. And yes, she still thinks she looks sexy. I think she still looks sexy as well. Her thicker hips and ass make me want to bite big chunks out of them and her larger breasts make me wish I was a baby again. She looks the way women are supposed to look. She is not overweight. She is far from obese and is not likely to suffer from any obesity related illnesses any time soon. The only problem is that she no longer fits into the fashion industry's idealized and rather perverse standard of beauty, namely, no hips, no ass, scant breasts, and no cellulite. News flash woman-haters, real women don't look that way. Real women have curves. In the real world, Tyra's proportions would be infinitely desirable. She has Mellissa Ford, Buffie the Body, proportions now, less some ass.

What I liked even more about how Tyra handled this was that her first thought was not of her reputation but of all the young women who applauded her for making curves beautiful again. She was worried, and rightfully so, about them picking up newspapers that declared that curvaceous figures were now once again considered "fat" and "ugly". What would a woman who was five-ten one hundred and eighty pounds think of herself if all the newspapers and magazines said that 160 pounds was fat and ugly? It is weird to me that we are talking about a gorgeous 160lb woman as if she was a plus-sized model. Doesn't that seem peculiar to you?

Tyra also stated unabashedly that she expected that she would probably gain five pounds a year, which would have her over two-hundred pounds by age forty and that she would still think she was sexy. A five-foot-ten 200lb man would never be called fat and we don't have DD breasts, hips or ass. If it wasn't muscle, the bulk of that weight would likely be on our stomachs and no tabloid would rush out to take pictures of us in bathing suits. Okay, maybe if Brad Pitt developed a beer belly. But he'd likely laugh it off and the world would laugh with him because we don't mind men gaining weight. Women are supposed to keep the bodies they had when they were thirteen forever according to the gynophobic fashion world. Is this fair? Hell no!

I have said it many times before, I love women. I love every curve of their bodies and I despise the industry that makes billions of dollars a year convincing all of you that you are anything less than perfect. The ones that tell you that you are ugly without make-up, ugly without $600 shoes or $2000 purses, ugly without the latest face creams, shampoos, moisturizers, and conditioners, ugly without the latest fad diet or work out video or gadget, ugly without plastic surgery. The industry Tyra made millions in. I understand those who thinks she is getting what she deserves for making so much money making so many women feel inadequate for so many years. I get that, But you know she won't be the ones to suffer for this but rather all the women who continue to buy into the bullshit, all the women who make the fashion industry the billion-dollar business it is. They will be the ones suffering depression and anorexia and bulimia and god knows what else, thinking, "If Tyra's fat I must be morbidly obese!"

Ain't nothing wrong with Tyra's luscious body and ain't nothing wrong with yours. Women were meant to have curves. Nature designed you that way. Real men appreciate real women. If your man wants you to look like a fashion model, just repeat that in your head and re-evaluate what type of man you've got. You shouldn't allow yourself to be duped by the fashion industry and neither should he and neither should Tyra. Hips, ass, breasts, it's all good to me. I know and appreciate a real woman when I see one and that, my friends, is a real woman. I for damn sure wouldn't kick her out of my bed.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Who Said That?

Here's something I said I would never do, Blog about Blogging. But I happened to notice a post the other day that I had somehow missed, an anonymous post. Here it is:

Anonymous said...
what positivity-
Can't believe it's the same "you"

Howz your moms? Nikki?

4:05 PM

Obviously someone who knows or knew me, probably male by the tone, but I have no idea who this is. Very frustrating because I like to keep in touch with people from my past. I have moved around so much in the past eighteen years that I have lost touch with a great many people and it would be nice to reconnect with a few of them. So when someone from my past drops by my blog and doesn't so much as leave their name it sort of pisses me off. I sit up all night wondering who it could be and if I did something to piss them off so bad that they don't want to talk to me again, in which case don't bother to post at all unless you are ready to forgive.

I miss my old friends. I was thinking the other day about how I have lost touch with all of my friends from Philadelphia, all of my friends from Los Angeles, and now almost all of my friends from San Francisco. I am even starting to lose touch with my friends right here in Las Vegas. I value my friends almost as much as I value my family so if you're out there, then get in touch. Norm? Jason? Renee'? Toni? Where ya at? Drop a brother a line.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Ultimate Sin

To me, the biggest sin is unrealized potential, wasted talent. Each of us has been imbued by nature with certain gifts and talents,which when fully exploited could bring us happiness and success, personal if not financial. You may be good with numbers, good with words, good at making or building things, good at painting, drawing, or sculpting things. Your skills may be physical. They may lie in gymnastics, athletics, dance. It may be in your personality. You may be a gregarious person who people listen to, a commanding speaker, a natural leader. You may be very warm and nurturing, the type of person people feel comfortable talking to. Your talent may be in making other people laugh. Whatever your talent, if you are sitting on it and not doing a damn thing with it than you are committing a grievous sin that I would put right up there with murder. You are committing an ultimate sin. You are wasting your talent, allowing them to lie dormant and atrophy. You are doing nothing. Forgive my bluntness, but you are just taking up space.

There are two type of people in this world. There are "Or" people and there are "And" people. I am an "And" person. I don't know the meaning of the word "Or", often to my detriment, but in this case it is one of my greatest assets. I have various talents and so I explore them all. I write, I fight, I run, I train other fighters, I cook, I share those little life lessons I have learned to others on this blog (I could do a better job at that though. This is far from a world stage.) And I do this all while working a full time job and raising three kids.

Most successful people are "And" people. They are going a mile a minute in a hundred different directions trying to find their niche, trying to find that one area of talent, that one passion that they can excel at that will give them the happiness they are striving for. Other people, like my best friend Norm, are "Or" people. He could not conceive of working full-time while trying to do his art. He has to throw himself completely into his art or not do it at all. There is no "And" for him. He is determined enough to be able to pay the bills that way though. He doesn't just lock himself in his studio painting all day and hoping the bills will somehow pay themselves. He is out there hustling and paying his bills, doing art direction for music videos, selling paintings for thousands of dollars, doing story boards for movies. He makes his art his day job.

It is difficult to pursue your passions if you are not an "And" person. If you're like most of us and you are not independently wealthy and you have to work for a living and pay bills, it is very difficult to pursue your dreams at the same time. Add a family to that and it starts to seem impossible. If you are like me, you will be perpetually exhausted trying to do it all. But "Or" people have to be risk takers in order to chase their dreams, which is difficult to do if you have responsibilities. There are plenty of examples of people who have quit their jobs and threw themselves into their passions, spent their life's savings on a business they always wanted to open or an invention they always wanted to market, or a talent they always wanted to develop and fell flat on their face. There are examples of people who have done this over and over again throughout their lives, failing each time and rising to try it again each time. I'm not one of those people but i admire them. I don't have that kind of guts. That's why I'm an "And" person. I have to have a safety net a fall-back in case this dream doesn't work I can still pay the mortgage and feed the family. My success will likely take longer than the risk taker's success. There are so many inspirational examples of guys who risked it all to chase their dream. The Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith is an example of an "Or" person who risked it all to chase his dream and wound up becoming a multi-millionaire. For many many people that is the way. For many others, like me, that way is too risky and terrifying. Whatever way you take, don't let your talents waste away, don't let them lie undeveloped and unrealized. You owe it to yourself and the world to share it. I know it seems impossible, but it isn't. I do it and Norm does it and neither of us are any different than you. Norm has two kids and a wife. I have three kids and a wife. Neither of us have any help from family, we were both poor and worked our way up from the ghetto, the same ghetto actually. The only difference between us is that he does his thing full-time and I do mine part time, but I put just as much passion and zeal into my writing and fighting as he does into his art. Forgive the cliche' but where there is a will there is a way.

When you are on your deathbed, what will you regret? Will it be not working harder on your day job? I doubt that. Will it be not spending enough time with your family? Probably. Not treating your loved ones better and letting them know how much they mean to you? Probably. Not pursuing your dreams? Definitely. You let one of your dreams die and it will haunt you to your grave. I promise you that.

We all know people who sing better than Aretha Franklin or Patti Labelle who are content to sing in the shower or the church choir or the occasional family function and never try to take it any further no matter how much we implore them to do so. I have a couple in my own family. We all know people who are funnier than Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle who are content to sit on the couch smoking weed and cracking jokes while laboring away in some dead end job. We know people with genius IQs who don't go to college and get thier degrees. We know people working in auto shops who could be building space shuttles with their amazing grasp of mechanics and engineering, raw and undeveloped. We all know people who have amazing ideas floating around in their heads, world changing ideas, that never do a thing with them. We have all thought to ourselves, "Man, if I had his talent I damn sure wouldn't be living here,working here, etc. " But what about your talent? What are you doing with it?

Consider that, that guy with the genius IQ who is content to just read his books and increase his knowledge, writing his ideas in little scrapbooks that he or she never does anything with, may have the cure for cancer, global warming, AIDS, emission free fuel, interstellar space travel, floating around in his head. If he were to go to college and get an education to give direction to that genius there may be no limit to what he or she might accomplish. Now do you see why I put unrealized potential right up there with murder? Consider that, that man or woman singing in the shower or cracking jokes on the couch may have the talent to lift his entire family out of poverty and give his kids a chance at a better life. If he or she were out there chasing his or her dream they might be able to make better lives for generations of their family. Do you think Frank Sinatra's grandkids, or even his great grandkids for that matter, will ever have to worry about paying the rent? Can you see why I put so much on this? Consider that, that born leader, who is content to be a shift manager at WalMart, could have been the world leader that finally brought peace to the world. Do you get it now? The cure for AIDS or Cancer or World Hunger or World Peace wasting away in some do-nothing's head? Do you get why this pisses me the fuck off?

I don't care if you're an "And" person or an "Or" person, where there is a will there is a way. Our talents, our gifts, are not just our own. They belong to the world. Keeping it inside out of some fear of failure or rejection, or because you don't have enough time in the day or you are too tired after working all day and taking care of the kids, is the ultimate sin. No guts. No glory. The only real failure is to not have tried at all. Your fear lessens us all. Your cowardice and laziness deprives the world of your talent, makes the entire civilization of man less than what it might have become. Think about that. Then get up off your lazy fretful ass and do something!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Get Over It.

I am sick to death of getting those fucked up looks from people who have some kind of issue with who I choose to sleep with, bear children with, and marry. I'm talking about white men who have an issue with me being married to a white woman and Black women who have the same issue. What the hell is wrong with these people?

I was in Mesquite, Nevada not long ago on a company function. The company I work for took all of senior management and their spouses to get massages at a day spa in Mesquite, play a round of golf, and go skeet shooting followed by dinner. From the moment I set foot in this town I felt the stares of white folks going from my wife's pregnant belly to me. I was uncomfortable and annoyed and, after a few hours of this, I was getting that type of angry that usually precedes violence. The type of angry I haven't been since I was in my twenties. Everywhere we went we were getting scowls of distaste from the locals. What was even more bizarre to me was that most of the stares were not coming from white men, which I was used to dealing with, but from white women, which I can't recall every dealing with before. After a few hours I was hoping that a man would look at me the wrong way or say something stupid so that I could do something because I had no idea what to do about the women. A man I could pound into a little greasy spot, but what was I supposed to do about these ignorant ass women? My wife was pregnant so I didn't want her getting into a fight. Thankfully, she hadn't picked up on it yet which I found rather surprising. But once I pointed it out to her she got royally pissed. I was afraid she was going to get into a fight, pregnant or not, so I just excused myself and she and I headed back to Vegas.

That Monday, when my boss asked me why I didn't stay for golf and skeet-shooting I had to explain to him that we had taken off right after lunch because It was starting to get a little "Deep South" over there and I was afraid I was going to wind up in jail if I let me temper get away from me. He laughed and told me that somebody winds up getting into a fight with the locals every year that they go and that they always make sure to bring bail money. I would have been cool with that were in not for my pregnant wife. But still, why the fuck do I even have to deal with this bullshit?

The neighborhood that my wife and I live in is fairly mixed and Christie hates going to the local grocery store with our daughters.

"All the black women look at me like I stole them."

Our daughters look very African American, healthy doses of my genes. If they chose to never tell anyone they were mixed they could probably pull it off. I knew that it wasn't because of the babies that these women were looking at her like she had stolen something, it was because of me, their father. Those looks were the same type of looks she gets when I am on her arm. The "You stole our man" looks. Funny because I don't know any of them. It's not like I was dating one of them and Christie literally stole me away from her. A friend of mine once said that if you want a black woman who wouldn't normally look twice at you or give you the time of day to take an interest in you all you have to do is date a white woman. My politically correct side forced me to stick up for my sisters, my experiences in life told me he was right. I go into that supermarket by myself all the time and it isn't like any of them have ever walked up to me and tried to put their bid in before or after I was married. It's not like they had all applied for the job of my wife and I picked the less qualified white applicant over the dozens of qualified black ones.

It isn't like I turned my back on black women somewhere along the way and refused to date them in favor of white she-devils. I wasn't looking for a trophy wife. I didn't place white women on some pedestal above my black sistas. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Back when I was younger and dumber I turned my back on several white women that I was in love with because I couldn't see myself married to a white woman. It was black women who I had on this exalted pedestal. I was looking for someone just like my mother. Which is kind of weird if you ask me. I always felt weird having sex with someone who looked like my mother or my sister, like I should apologize afterwards and got to church or a therapist. But I dated who I thought I was supposed to date according to those around me who saw me as some sort of Black Leader in the making. And who I was supposed to date were not white women. So, I dated them on the sly and refused to fall in love. When I was dating a black woman I strutted her proudly but when I was dating a white woman I hid it like some dark secret. I regret that now. I should have been stronger and I'm not going to blame it on the times. Despite the Afro-centric "Black-consciousness" movement that was sweeping the country at that time I still knew right from wrong and I buckled to peer pressure. The same peer pressure that is now being directed at my family by those white folks in Mesquite and the sistas in my neighborhood. But I'm not in my twenties now. Now I'm a grown ass man with a family he loves and this shit just pisses me off.

Yeah, white people have done our ancestors some terrible wrongs and we as a people have had to overcome a lot to get where we are today. We have had to overcome all kinds of racism and prejudice. But in the end people are people. Refusing to date someone because of the color of their skin is as wrong as refusing to hire or promote one for the same reason. I treat romantic relationships the same as I would expect an employer to treat me. I look for the ones with best credentials and hire the most qualified. I don't show favoritism of any kind. If I think this Filipino woman is more likely to make me happy than this sista or this white woman than this Filipino woman is going to be the one I hook up with. That was a little nod to the ex-wife. I've dated Hawaiians, Jamaicans, Africans, Asians, Caucasians, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, French, Italians, Irish, Scottish, Russians, Germans, Jews, lots of Swedish women, African Americans and every combination thereof. Each of them had equal chance to win my heart. I wound up with a white woman. Oh, well. Get over it. If you had been there it might have been you but you weren't.

What I find most bizarre about White folks who look at me like I stole one of their women away is what makes them think she would have even been interested in them if I wasn't in the picture? Like I said above, it isn't like there were all these white boys that were next in line for the job and I butted ahead or slipped in on some sort of Affirmative Action Program that gave me some unfair advantage over more qualified White boys. She fell in love with me! Get over it!

On one of my earlier blogs about racial prejudice I made the observation of how White men and Black women seem to have the most animosity toward inter-racial relationships, at least from my perspective, and I recieved this response from a sista named Sette:

"I have to say your observations about how you notice "the sisters" still have animosity sort of equates black women to majority white racists. You seem to be fairly understanding and almost feminist leaning in some of your posts, so this surprises me. The dynamic there is completely different and it's because of this history of oppression that you've touched on that we (black people) may have such bitter feelings about race mixing. Especially in a society where black women are perpetually portrayed as the unwantable unless they look like Halle Berry, Beyonce, whatever pop culture person at the moment that catches people's fancies. You could understand then, why some black women feel animosity, which really isn't animosity but more like sadness turned to anger in what they may view as a rejection of them. The same way that when black men express dissatisfaction to my being married to a white male, I recognize that we have been put through such an abusive cycle that leaves a lot of us plagued with self worth issues. That we have not always been considered wantable, desirable, visible and that my pairing seems like a blatant slap in the face. The dominant culture doesn't have this to contend with. The feelings that our sisters and brothers feel towards us are feelings of hurt and anger of being rejected. After being bombarded with the message that white is beautiful, it is most desirable, it is most wanted.. I understand why other black people may feel that rejection, hurt and pain. That's not at all what white men feel when if they saw you out with white women. It's not at all what white women feel when they see me out with my husband. But then again there hasn't been a cycle of degradation aimed at white people as fundamentally ugly on the basis of skin color, nose width, hair texture and simply existing.It just struck me as sort of odd that what blacks feel about that and how they may treat us, would be equated to the same thing whites may feel about interracial dating. It's not the same at all. White people are the dominant culture, so of course they wouldn't express the same sort of contempt that minorities do when they see minorities dating outside races. It's the same for latinos, asians, and anyone who is marginalized. There will always be the feeling of rejection that the majority will never know, because the majority has always been desirable. It's kind of like the point that you were making about calling someone a nigger when they're black. If we could apply it to telling a black woman/man that the potential white mate is just better, the reaction would be completely different and most likely not even make an impact if you were to tell a white woman/man that potential black mate was just sexier. So yes the bigotry and the discrimination is there but it's rooted in something completely different. It's rooted in rejection for us."

I responded with this:

"Sette, thanks so much for your comments. In no way did I mean to suggest that the animosity felt by women of color towards interracial relationship is coming from the same place as that expressed by white males. But intolerance is intolerance. I understand the feeling that dating outside your race is somehow seen as rejecting your race. I also think that in this day and age we should all be enlightened enough to realize that this is not always the case. True, in many cases it is, and that's truly sad. I'm sure we all know Black men who refuse to date Black women and vise versa. However I don't think it is fair to assume that this is always the case. I think assuming that everyone who dates outside their race is doing so because they see another race as better or more desirable is another prejudgement (read prejudice). Being in an interracial relationship is twice as hard when you now have to deal with this type of prejudice from your own race. And the bitterness and hostility faced from members of your own race who disapprove is usually far more hostile and extreme. In my case, and I'm sure in yours as well, it is simply a matter of being open-minded and not limiting my relationship choices to any one race or nationality rather than having a decided preference for one or the other. As I've said before, no two women I've ever dated bare any resemblance to the other. I've dated all over the spectrum. Because I go where my heart goes. So I am offended when someone tries to dictate the direction they feel my heart should take or narrow my options in love and romance. I am offended when I get evil looks and nasty comments from people who think I should "Stick to my own". No, it is not the same as the animosity expressed by White males towards miscegenation. It is often worse."

Maybe I should give greater preference to Black women because of all the hardships we have endured together. Maybe I should hold some sort of grudge against white people because of what they did to my people before, during, and even after the Civil Rights movement and refuse to date them. Maybe I should. I don't. To me, that would make me a hypocrite. Whoever I fall in love with is who I'm going to choose to be with regardless of their color. How could I complain about discrimination while discriminating? I'm not saying we should forget but we must forgive and move on. People are people and if everyone doesn't realize this soon than it will only be the minority who suffer for it.

My wife and I were having a conversation the other day and the subject turned to our children and how terrified she was of the day her daughters discovered their history.

"I'm afraid they are going to hate me when they find out how White people have treated Blacks in this country. How will I explain to her that there are members of her own family that are racists?"

I comforted her and told her that we would tell our daughters all about their history but we'd also tell them about Dr. Martin Luther King and his dream of racial harmony and unity. I told her that we would tell them that they are racial unity in the flesh. They are the living embodiments of Dr. King's dream. We would tell them that racism of any kind is wrong, that prejudice of any kind is immoral. We would teach them to judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, their sex, sexual preference or religion. And that they would be living proof of the beauty that can come from such open-mindedness, the daughters of a country singing, Christian White woman who can trace her roots back to racist rednecks in the Louisiana bayou, and a ghetto-born Black atheist from the hip-hop generation who can trace his roots all the way back to the slave ships.

When my daughters inevitably face the racism of others, Black people who think I'm a sell-out for being with their mother, White people who think their mother is a race traitor for miscegenating with me, and they come home confused and frustrated about who's side they should take. When they go through the inevitable identity crises and start identifying with one race more than the other or not being able to really identify with either. Their mother and I will be there to guide them through that and teach them that just because others hate they don't need to internalize that hatred. They don't need to choose between the two races. They can be the example of how our two races can overcome the problems of the past and create a better world. How we can look past the color of our skin and find love in our shared humanity. They can tell them that Dr. King's dream is alive and well, living and breathing, in them.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Much Love

I have delayed writing this for a long time because the subject of monogamy is one that frankly, gets me into a lot of trouble. It is something I have struggled with all of my life. I will probably get into trouble for even writing this. Oh, well.

The other day my wife asked me if I had ever been faithful to a woman. I would have rather she had asked me how long I have gone without cheating because I could have confidently answered a year. Which to me seems like a long time. But to ask me if I had ever been faithful to a woman well, the sad answer to that was no. When I was younger I had no desire to be faithful to anyone. And then when I finally had the desire I found that I did not have the ability. My desires were too strong, too overpowering. I was like the character, Joseph Miles, from my novel Succulent Prey. Wherever I looked I was surrounded by flesh calling out to me to consume it and resisting it was almost maddening. Still, even the call of the flesh could not completely explain my inability to commit. As I grew older my sexual appetite declined as it does in all men. I may still have sex or crave sex more than the average thirty to thirty-five year old but certainly no more than the average twenty to twenty-five year old. Unusual for a thirty-six year-old but not indicative of a problem. Not like it was when I was twenty to twenty-five and my sexual habits were more equatable to a crazed weasel. Now, as then to a large degree, the problem is the simple fact that I love women. Not just their bodies. I love women. I fall deeply and madly in love with them and it pains me that I must choose one over another.

I am a polyamorous person. I do not, as is expected in this country, fall out of love with one person before falling in love with the next. My emotions just don't work that way. I am fully capable of being madly in love with more than one woman at a time. This inevitably leaves me in the unenviable position of having to chose between the woman I love and the other woman I love. Which means that I am always second guessing myself, "Did I make the right choice?" "Is she really the one or should I have chosen the other one?" And by doing so I am also always hurting some one's feelings and making them feel insecure about their relationship with me. It isn't fair to them or me. Marriage has solved this to a degree. I've made my choice. I'm fully committed to that choice. End of story. But every time there's a major argument the old questions pop up. Well I have another question. Why does there even have to be a choice?

Most of the men I know are very similar to me in this regard. True, most of the men I know are fighters or writers or construction workers or athletes of some kind and it can be argued that these fields attract certain types of men, men who are perhaps more macho or ego driven. Still, I don't think this is really about ego. I'm talking about emotion. It can be argued that writers as artists are more likely to shun societal mores. I don't think it's merely about rebelling either though. It could be argued that fighters other athletes have increased testosterone levels and that the selection pool is greater for fighters making it harder for them to be monogamous do to increased opportunity among a wide variety of females. This would make sense if we were merely talking about sex. I'm talking about love here. I'm talking about the very male habit of falling in love with one woman while still in love with another.

"Should we have to choose?"

That does make me sound greedy doesn't it? It makes me sound like I want to have my cake and eat it too. The common response to this dilemma is always, "Oh, you just don't know what you want?" This of course is not true. I have always known what I wanted each time I've been put in this dilemma. I wanted to keep them both. The only confusion came because society told me that I could not, that I had to choose one of them. My question is why? Why do we have to choose?

Chris Rock made a comment about the different ways that men and women react to potential mates. A man sees his bestfriend with a beautiful, intelligent, wonderful woman that he's deeply in love with and he thinks to himself, "I want a woman just like her." A woman sees her bestfriend with a handsome, intelligent, wonderful man with a good job and she thinks to herself, "I want him." It is so common for women to share other women's men that why do we even bother to pretend? In my first marriage I never bothered to hide the fact that I was married from anyone and I still had women crawling out of the woodwork to take me into their beds. Just as the instinct in males is to plant their seeds in as much fertile soil as possible, I believe that the instinct in females is to find the very best reproductive stock and the very best providers for them and their offspring, whether or not he already has another mate. This urge is resisted for the most part due to pressure from society and ideas of right and wrong that are programmed into us since birth. In some this morality is programmed so deeply that it supersedes and actually replaces the old instincts with these more civilized instincts but in others where this civilization has not gone as deep, the old instincts persist. I believe that this is why the more primitive and less civilized the environment a man or woman comes from or even conversely, the wealthier, more famous, more artistic, the more above the rules of society a man or woman is or believes themselves to be, the more the likelihood of polyamorous behavior. I suffer from both of these conditions. I emerged from the uncivilized streets of Philadelphia where the rules of polite society were slow to trickle down, directly into the art world where challenging the rules of society was the expected norm. In both circles my sexual eccentricities were applauded and celebrated. Even in so-called polite society, when men are alone and the women-folk are not in earshot, men did not often condemn me for my lack of fidelity. They wanted details. They wanted to live my life vicariously because each one of them wished they had the courage if not the ability to live as I did no matter how unenviable I assured them my life was. Because what it comes down to is that men like sex and we like it with different partners. We also like to be loved and we like to be loved by many.

Most mammals are not monogamous. In fact, a recent study shows that none of them are. Even the ones we long thought mated for life were cheating on the side according to DNA testing. Most mammals travel in packs where there is one alpha male and several females and other males who are generally the alpha male's children. Others are matriarchal with a female leading a pack of males and subservient non-reproductive females. Very few mammals have what we would consider to be the traditional family structure of one male and one female mated for life and those that do, studies show, still have "affairs" outside of their committed relationships. So are we humans trying to buck a natural instinct, perhaps even a selective design of nature? It does not appear that nature favors monogamy. I would think that if it did it would not be such a difficult thing for even us elevated and evolved humans to do. If polyamourous polygamous behavior were merely an aberration it would not be so common. In my experience the number of men that are truly monogamous far outnumber the number of men that are not and even they would if they didn't think they would break their wife's heart and lose their families. But if she was cool with it every last one of them would be cool with it too. Does that make it right? I'm not saying that. I'm just presenting another point of view.

Polygamy began, in many African tribes, as a way of ensuring that every woman would have a man to protect and provide for her. In many early tribes it was the chief's duty to marry any unwed women in the tribe. As tribes grew into nations this became impossible for the chief to do so he extended this duty to all the men in his tribe. Many Native American tribes sprang from the same traditions. A widowed woman would be married by her sister's husband so that she would not be alone without anyone to hunt for her or to help protect her. This practice was perverted in other cultures where a man's wealth began to be measured by the number of wives he had because presumably you only kept as many as you could afford. It then became common for the very wealthy to have wives and concubines that measured in the hundreds and even thousands. Obviously, this was not a matter of love but rather conceit. It is doubtable that many of these Sheiks, Sultans, and Kings, could even give the names of all of their wives and mistresses let alone have any genuine feelings for them. It was further perverted in religious cults that called for arranged marriages in which children as young as twelve were married off to men their father's age. Many now view child-brides as an inevitable consequence of polygamy just as they view child-prostitution as an inevitable product of prostitution rather than a function of its very illegality and lack of regulation. If it were legal there would be rules upon it just like every other legal institution. Rules which would prevent men or women from having underage spouses or having several hundred spouses I would assume. So what is it that prevents this from happening? Why is having more than one bride so frowned upon?

In the bible there are numerous examples of polyamorous polygamous behavior, which surprises me when we consider that biblical morality is one of the main reasons for the ban on polygamy. Are there other reasons than "The Bible says so?" Of course there are. I just can't think of one compelling argument right now. If you take away incest and child brides what other reason could there be? Men or women getting their hearts broken by having to share their lovers with other men or women? That's happening right now with or without polygamy. It's called adultery and it is at the top of the list when it comes to divorce statistics. The betrayal and the dishonesty has always been quoted as one of the main reasons for why cheating is so damaging to a relationship. If everything was on the up and up would that be worse? I don't know. I'm just asking. There's the fact of a child potentially having multiple fathers or mothers or not being certain who was the father or mother. Like that isn't happening in epidemic numbers now? At least if it was all under one roof it would be less confusing. If society lifted the stigma and the taboo around polygamy I don't think a child would care one bit whether he had one mommy or daddy or two or three. Now, because of the stigma such a thing carries in society it would be difficult to a kid but I still think he'd rather have three fathers that all live with him than three potential fathers that he doesn't know and has never met as we have today. It sounds like I'm touting polygamy as a cure-all for today's fucked up family situation and I'm certainly not. Maybe I am. I honestly don't know. I know the idea doesn't sound too far fetched to me. My wife would probably appreciate a break from my ravenous sexual appetite a few nights a week and I'm sure she would prefer it were with a second wife who she knew and approved of than with some random girl picked up at a nightclub. Maybe. Maybe she'd kill me either way. I ain't asking her any time soon.

So why am I thinking about such an off-the-wall subject? Have I completely lost my mind? I'm sure the HBO series "Big Love" has gotten many Americans seriously thinking about polygamy. The show does a pretty good job of illustrating the pros and cons of polygamy without resorting to the easy answer of "It's wrong! It results in child-brides!" Although they do show that side of it too. They show the jealousies, the camaraderie, the struggles the children go through trying to make sense of it all, the financial difficulties (though they did cop-out by making the main character wealthy), the husband's struggle to keep all of the women happy and satisfied (lots of Viagra.) I doubt I'd have that issue for many years. They even have terms for the other wives "Sister wives". Sounds warm and cozy doesn't it? Damn intriguing show. My wife hates it when I watch it though. She knows that after every episode my mind is working. "How do I talk her into adopting a sister wife?" If I can figure that out, I'm curing cancer next.