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Straight talk no chaser, p.10
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       Straight Talk, No Chaser, p.10

           Gena D. Lutz
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  A pretty, put-together woman helps us exemplify the three things that drive us and certainly helps validate our worthiness to the rest of the world. If you’re on a man’s arm, looking absolutely stunning, well put together, and poised, then everyone is going to be looking at you and him and wondering, “Well damn, what does he do for a living? He must be all that.” In the world of men, that’s an absolutely necessary ego trip, one we cannot live without. Most women I know like retail therapy when they’re feeling kind of blue. We men need ego therapy. And a stroll with a woman we perceive as beautiful can be as powerful a feeling as hitting the game-winning home run.

  A woman who cares about herself and how she presents herself to the world, and looks like she’d elevate our game, is the woman who will get our attention; she’s the one who will make a man down a shot, pat his boys on the back, and then take what feels like a twenty-mile walk through a crowded club to ask you for a dance, or work his way over to the vegetable section in the grocery store to strike up a conversation about the difference between Roma and vine-ripened tomatoes just so that he can talk to you.

  Before you get too bent out of shape about what I’m saying here, keep in mind that this philosophy was taught to me by my mother, who dressed whenever she left the house—and she did this even though she was married already. It was she who taught my sisters to fix their hair and put on something nice and apply a little makeup on their faces before they left the house no matter what—even if they were going to the store for a pack of gum, it was important for them to step into that store looking “dignified.” “Conduct yourself with some dignity so that at least if you see a man, he can say to himself, ‘Wow, that’s one dignified lady.’ At least he’ll know up front he’s dealing with a person who cares about herself.” The way you dress is an extension of you. If you’re seriously open to a relationship, why miss the opportunity of meeting someone because you didn’t pull it together before you left the house? I’m telling you, a single woman who is serious about finding a man can’t afford days where she totally lets it all go. In the event that Mr. Right is somewhere in the vicinity, you have to be prepared to look the part of Mrs. Right. And if you’re not looking the part, a man will not imagine you in the part either.

  Instead, he might just turn his attention to the woman who did bother to go to the grocery store with it a little bit more pulled together. Your “off” day may totally be her “on” day—and in that split second when a man sees the two of you and is deciding which woman he’s going to approach, I promise you that the one who’s on her game will get noticed first.

  Every. Single. Time.

  So why not put into practice one of my favorite slogans—one I live by: It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. This is no different from the way you present yourself, say, at work. An employer will base decisions about how much you make, where you sit, what your title will be, and whether or not you get to represent the company in public based not just on your work ethic and how much you contribute to the bottom line, but also on how you look. You know this is true. He’s not picking the employee in the frumpy suit with the greasy, unkempt hair and the chronic halitosis to sit in the board meetings or give the big speech at the shareholders’ meeting; he’s going for the employee who spends at least some of his earnings on a few quality suits, a prime haircut, a consistent manicure, and a generally strong appearance to be the face of the company—to be the one who best represents the image the company wants to put forward. That boss doesn’t want anyone looking at his representative and drawing a bunch of bad conclusions, all based on one person’s appearance.

  I was explaining this point to my employees just the other day when I noticed a few of them dragging into work looking a little less than professional. I explained to them that even if they had a bad night or early morning, I shouldn’t be able to tell it by the way they fixed their hair or the outfit they chose. I am not supposed to know they are going through a rough patch based on how they present at the office. I get that things may not be perfect at home—I understand that things happen and maybe you weren’t feeling the business suit and heels and felt more in a jeans-and-sandals state of mind, but that kind of attire has no business in a professional setting. We have an image to uphold. I don’t care how tired I am, I’m going to dress and make sure I look good. I’m not coming out of my house in a jogging suit, without shaving. I cannot afford to be disheveled, ever.

  Because someone is always watching.

  The same goes for women who are open to a relationship: you cannot afford to go to the party in a jogging suit, looking unkempt, if you’re serious about finding a man. I’m not saying you have to hit the grocery store in a gown and chandelier earrings; I’m not saying that at all. But when you step out, step it up. Presentable does not mean perfection, but you can at least look pulled together. It’s just natural that doing this will catch a man’s eye—make him decide whether he’s going to throw his bait your way.

  Mind you, the need for you to look good extends beyond the initial meeting and first few dates. If a man is still in the process of trying to determine whether he wants to commit to you, you can’t just go au natural early in the relationship. You have to take it slow for a guy—leave the rollers, housecoats, and bare faces for when he’s really into you, or else you run the risk of giving him an easy excuse to make a hasty getaway. If you want to extend the shelf life of the relationship, keep it pulled together long enough to figure out if the two of you have a chance together (and if you’re following my direction, you’ll be using at least ninety days to figure that out, right? Right!).

  I have a friend who was dating this woman who appeared to be the absolute total package when he met her—when it came to looking good and the way she carried herself, she had few rivals. This was confirmed for my boy on at least three dates with this woman. After the third date, she invited him over to the house for a more intimate one-on-one date—just the two of them.

  Well, when he went over to her house, she opened the door in house shoes, she had holes in her socks and a beat-up pair of sweatpants on, her hair was pulled back, and she didn’t have on any makeup. She was in the house cooking and as she did so she said, “I figured we’re just chillin’ today and we should be relaxed.”

  “It just killed my whole image of her,” he said. “I wasn’t ready for that.”

  And who could blame him? Let a man fall in love before you show him the “real you,” because like it or not, he’s not about to find the sweatpants and the holey socks, or the woman who would reveal all that so early in the relationship, attractive. Sometimes, I think you’ve convinced yourselves that if we are really into you, we’ll accept you as you are from day one. “I’m going to show him the real me!” Well, he doesn’t need to see all of that. You don’t need to let out all the secrets—you don’t need to tell him you were in the salon turning that chestnut brown hair blond and that those aren’t your real eyelashes and the Spanx were the key component to that slick dress you were wearing when you first caught his eye. Let him develop deep(er) feelings for you before you start exposing the tricks of the trade.

  My wife, Marjorie, whom I reconnected with and married twenty years after we met and briefly dated, effectively put this into play when we first started dating again, and I respected her for it. For the first five or six months of us being together, she always pulled it together—even when we were together in private. If she took a nap, she would wake up and head into the bathroom to freshen up before joining me. This sent a strong signal my way because any woman with a guy in my position is going to be in the spotlight, too, and by doing little things to always be on point when it was just the two of us, she demonstrated to me that she could handle this role were our relationship to deepen. The same holds true for every guy—not just a celebrity whose mate’s picture will be in magazines. Every guy earning a paycheck does this because at the end of the day he needs to have a lady
on his arm who will make him feel as if he’s doing well (or at least better than he really is).

  Of course, Marjorie is a lot more relaxed now that we’re married, but in our house, even several years into our marriage, she’ll only go so far with the au natural look. She’ll pull her hair into a ponytail, but her skin will be glowing and her manicure and pedicure will be fresh. And she never goes out of the house—even for the simplest errands—without looking stylish.

  I get that not every woman is going to want to get dolled up from head to toe every time she looks at the front door, but can you afford not to? Because let’s not forget there is competition out there. And she will work it; everything from her hair and outfits to the shape of her body to her pedicure will be together. And when a man sees that, he’s going to be attracted to her.

  Now, we’re not so simple that we’re going to let go of something meaningful just because somebody else comes along and looks good. But if a man is still in the decision-making stage—he hasn’t professed his love for you, hasn’t done any real providing on your behalf, and isn’t willing to protect you at all costs—don’t give him a reason to walk away. This is something you can control; if he chooses to walk over and speak to you and ask you out and then ask you out again and again, then obviously, you’re doing something right. Don’t get too comfortable too soon and give the competition a leg up on your potential mate.

  Even when you’re in a relationship, you want to be careful; there are just some things you have to do to keep up the attraction you and your man have for each other. For sure, this goes both ways: no man should think it’s okay to get too lax in the keeping-it-together department, and at the same time, expect his mate to be pulled together 24/7. I still dress up for my wife, and we’re well into our marriage. Even on my casual days when I’m enjoying some downtime during the day, I put on a nice shirt and some slacks, shave, and freshen up before I come down for dinner. I do this because I don’t want her to always see me onstage looking dressed up and jazzy, and at home overly casual and beat down. This is a good attitude for all men to have, but it’s especially critical for men’s wives and significant others. I told you in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man that the number one reason men cheat is because there are so many women willing to cheat with them. I say to you now that what you cannot do in your house is keep providing reasons for your man to keep looking somewhere else for aesthetic stimulation. I’m sorry but we men have to have it. It’s what we like and we want it consistently. It simply isn’t cool for you to get too comfortable, to show up at dinner in a head scarf, house shoes that date back to college, and sweatpants. We don’t want to inhale the heady brew that’s part cold cream, part nail polish remover when we snuggle. What we saw this morning when you left the house was a nice dress, pumps you convinced us were essential, though they cost as much as a weekend getaway, a natural but shiny lipstick, and a cute hairdo. We smelled the perfume in the air. We saw the smile on your face and the pep in your step when you hauled all that pretty into the office. We watched all of that walk out the door, but then got none of it when you got home. This might not be a problem for you if we weren’t sitting in the office all week long, looking at all of our female coworkers dolled up and glamorous, looking and smelling good, only to come home to plain Jane. There could easily be a situation for you and your man if you let the other woman keep having her “on” days while you fill his days with nothing but “off.”

  Don’t shoot the messenger just because you don’t like the message but I have to ask: How long do you think that’s going to fly with a man? You can get mad with me all you want to, but the idea that after a certain point, a man should just love you for who you are without some razzle-dazzle is not feasible in the real world. We know you give it your all at work and then come home and give your all to the kids and keeping the house together—we get that. But you’ve got to recognize what coming home to a woman who cares about her appearance does for a man—especially when we know you’re doing it for us. Go home every once in a while and tell him, “You know, honey, I thought it would be nice for the two of us to come to the dinner table dressed up tonight—just for us.”

  Do that and suddenly the women dolled up at work aren’t so special, because he’s got dazzling at home. We know when you put on that sexy pair of underwear and that fitted T-shirt or that special piece of lingerie and you wait until the lights are out to tie down your hair that you’re doing it for us, and we get a kick out of that. Do this, and you’ll go a long way in keeping your man’s eyes where they belong—even after you’ve fallen in love and, over time, your body has gone through physical changes. When we truly love you, we don’t care that you’re not the same shape that you used to be; you’re still beautiful to us. While aesthetics is the number one reason why we approach you, it’s not the number one reason we fall in and stay in love with you. We get the changes. We simply don’t want you to let yourself go. We want to see that even with the changes, you’re making the effort to look good—to turn us on in the same ways that you did when we met you.

  For Ladies Only . . .

  Lord knows we’re not going to stay the same guy you met; we’ll have the potbelly or the bald spot, and body parts won’t function like they used to, and even with that, you’ll still love us. But that’s no excuse for us to let ourselves go—to force you to feel like you have to continue Level 10 sexual attraction to us when we know good and well we look like we’re barely on the deserving end of Level 5. Perhaps what we can both do is help each other get the sexy back—encourage each other to be better about living healthier lives, acknowledge and accept the changes our bodies go through as we get older, and help each other accentuate the goodness that’s still there. You can find a hairstyle that fits a face that might be a bit bigger; he can find clothes that suit his changing body. The two of you could get into a great couple’s exercise routine—take a salsa class together, or go for a brisk couple’s walk after dinner—that will help you lose weight and connect with each other. Just making that effort together will go a long way in putting some pretty new bows on both of your packaging.

  Part III

  Keeping a Man


  The Cookie

  More on Why Men Need It, Why You Should Keep It

  I mean, we just need it, man.

  Like the earth needs the sun, like sharks need water, like Parliament needs George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and Funkadelic, like Benny needs the Jets.

  Men absolutely cannot—I repeat, CANNOT—live without sex, or what I often refer to as the cookie.

  If he’s breathing and free and clear of medical issues that would preclude him from getting some, then a man is going to have sexual intercourse. Period.

  There is nothing on this planet that makes him feel better than sex. Not a hole in one on the golf course. Not a game-winning three-point basket at the buzzer. Not even the best drug. Hands down, it is the most gratifying, tension-releasing, confidence-building, conquering feeling any one human male could ever experience—the mere release is like a pressure valve being turned and all of that steam and buildup and energy rushes through, making the machine right again.

  And in order for our machines—our bodies, our souls, and our minds—to be right, we’re going to have sex by any means necessary. We enjoy the act that much.

  What women have to understand, however, is that it is just an act. As clichéd as it may sound, men have nary a second’s thought about separating the act of having sex from making and being in love. Of course, the more skilled our lover is, the more enjoyable it is—and if she’s as beautiful as the ideal woman we’ve conjured up in our mind when we’re fantasizing, it’s all the more enjoyable, especially if she knows what she’s doing. But really, we have no problem having sex, and hitting the road the second it’s over. If we’re not in love with our partner, we don’t want to cuddle. We don’t want to touch. We don’t want to talk and share and emote and plan and dream with you. And if we do submit to the postco
ital cuddle and conversation, it’s most likely insincere—just a way for us to keep alive the possibility that if we need another sexual release in the future, you’ll be available to us.

  Cold but fact. Straight, no chaser.

  Which is why we men never understood this whole concept women have about using sex to deepen a man’s feelings for them. If you think because you have a special way of handing out the cookie that there will be a difference in how we respond to you emotionally, you’re sadly, pitifully mistaken.

  He just took the cookie because you passed it out. I’m serious. No matter how sweet and seductive you were, no matter how much you’d worked out in your mind that sleeping with that man was going to connect the two of you in ways that going out to dinner and a movie followed by a long deep discussion on a walk through the park never would, he was likely saying in his mind, “Well, I’m here, 9:30 on a Tuesday night. If we are efficient enough, I’ll still be able to catch the sports highlights on ESPN. ‘Let’s get on in here, girl!’ ” Often, the physical connection doesn’t lead to much more than that.

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