Hey, Baby, What’s Your Sign?

Author C. C. Finlay posted a link to this article on Facebook — “A Message to Women from a Man: You are Not Crazy.” The author tells women not to fall victim to emotional abuse (he calls it “Gaslighting). Charlie added the comment that the article should have been addressed to other men, with an emphasis on how to treat women respectfully.

This emotional manipulation is rampant internationally (not localized to “this country” as the author states). It is also non-specific as to gender. I feel very strongly about this topic of emotional abuse, having been a victim of it myself. If I could save even one more woman (or man) from herself (or himself) and her manipulative partner, then I will think myself very lucky indeed.

I’ve always said that the answer to World Peace is to give everyone on the planet an injection of self-confidence and a good night’s sleep. In this holiday season, where many wish for “Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Men,” I wish more than ever that this were possible.

Instead I will do my small part by posting my thoughts on the matter. This is one of the “Lost Blogs” that did not manage to appear in Beauty & Dynamite (which is now out of print). It is, in essence, my reply to Yashar Ali’s essay. We’ll call it “Princess Alethea’s Message to Women: You Are Crazy. Embrace It.”

Remember: The only one who should ever take advantage of your awesomeness is YOU.


“Hey, baby, what’s your sign?”

“I don’t believe you’re leaving ‘cause me and Charles Manson like the same ice cream…”
– Tori Amos, Tear in Your Hand


I forget how old I was…twelve? fifteen?…but I remember it as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. I was passing my mother on the stairs and I asked her, “Mom, am I weird?”

“No, honey,” she replied. “You’re normal.”

I immediately went to my room and cried. To me – to a girl who collected misfits and teddy bears with crooked noses and loved nothing without flaws – “weird” was the epitome of imperfect perfection. To be normal was…well, it was nothing. It was everyday, apple pie, vanilla pudding. And that thought seriously depressed me…for much longer than it should have.

Many, many years later I related this story to my mother. She laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. “Oh, Alethea,” she gasped. “I meant normal for you.”

I’ve recently become obsessed with Jonathan Carroll. It’s unsettling to find an author you’ve never read before who seems to have been put on this earth to write words that speak directly to you. Even better – he started doing this 25 years ago, so I have his entire backlist to gobble up.

The best part about Carroll is that he can write women. He can write relationships and feelings in a way that most men are unable…or afraid…to. It’s an awesome and powerful talent for a male author to have, and I have encountered few to date that can do it with such stunning accuracy.

I think the secret behind the authors’ magic is simple – they are lovers. And I don’t mean lovers in the big-sweeping-cheesy-Nicholas-Sparks definition of the word. I mean that they love women…physically, mentally, and down to every last tiny idiosyncracy. Their heroines are beautiful…and quirky. They have flaws. They’re usually a little secretive, a little unstable, a little out of reach. A little crazy. A little weird. And they make the reader fall in love with every last nutso bit of them.

This imperfect, slightly-crazy, off-the-cuff woman has become the uber-heroine in other incarnations as well. She’s the down-to-Earth, girl-next-door with a twist. Jaye in Wonderfalls. Dharma in Dharma & Greg. Sandra Bullock in Speed. They’re the curry, the cinnamon, the cayenne that make life spicy. They’re normal…for them. They are the perfect counterpart to the Everyman. And we love every last nutso bit of them.

So WHY is it that in REAL life–this life we continually say is so different from movies and television and books when all those art forms try to do is recreate it–men only THINK they want the weird girl? Oh sure…they’ll fall in love with her. They’ll have loads of fun. They’ll laugh at all the crazy things she does and the crazy things she says. They’ll ride the wave of her energy, and they’ll have a blast doing it.

But a month down the road…a year…two years…and he will inevitably turn to this woman and say, “Have you ever considered therapy?” or “You know, my life was a lot simpler without you.” (That one’s for you, Kitti dearest.)

Gentlemen, I have a request. If you’re thinking about falling for a woman who is a handful, a verbal fanaticist, a mental genius, a roller coaster of energy and emotion, a dreamer of impossible worlds, an incredible whirlwind of beauty and dynamite…admit this to yourself right up front. You’re not going to change her…and you’d be foolish to try. If you’re not brave enough, big enough, strong enough and clever enough to step up to the plate and look her dead in the eye, then stand down and admit defeat. Carroll, a true lover of women knows what sort is worth fighting for. But he is also aware that there will BE a fight…and that she will be worth it. Every last nutso bit of her.

There’s a Native American legend–it’s told in a variety of forms–about a scorpion who asks a young man to help him across a river. The young man is wary. The scorpion does not excuse himself for what he is, but he still asks the man to carry him across the water. The man does, and right before he gets to the other side, the scorpion stings him…effectively killing them both. Before they drown, the man asks the scorpion why he did it and the scorpion says, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

This fable has been used as a metaphor for all sorts of things – drugs, alcohol, the current vice du jour. But you guys remember this story the next time you believe yourself to be “burdened” with a crazy woman. You must choose. Step up or stand down.

‘Cause you knew what she was when you picked her up.