What's a Liberated Man to Do?

A self-confessed liberated man contemplates the meaning of love, attraction, and Billy Joel lyrics.

by Barry Kluger • More.com Member { View Profile }

Billy Joel sang: “Don’t go changing… I love you just the way you are.” Who ARE we kidding? We chose our partners in business and life because we do want to change them, and we really don’t love them just they way they are. My criteria for dating after my divorce was simple: a woman who acceptedthe fact I had a child, was on a career path, and who looked great in a mini skirt — all reasonable in the litmus test of love. Hope’s were a bit less discriminating. Her criteria were: what are your goals in life, what keeps you awake

at night, and don’t you think disco will live forever?

O.K. Neither of us were perfect and to tell you the truth, Hope fell in lovewith me because I worked at a cool job, had all my hair, and sent her extravagant gifts (her being totally unaware I charged them to my corporate accounts). This was the perfect combination: steak and sizzle, her being the obvious heat, me being the obvious pillar. And from that day we met, we have each spent the last 20 years trying to bring the other to our way of thinking.

In fact, when she buys clay pots and furniture she brings them home only to faux paint them to the style she likes. My question: ”Why buy it in the first place?

Hope is a long-distance runner. To me that is exercise, and I hate exercise. But tennis or golf? That’s fun without being hit over the head that it’s good for my heart. Hope will often say: “You don’t want to go run with me, do you?” I always said: “If you already know the answer, why ask the question.”

Hope likes hotels that have five stars for ambience and zero stars forcuisine. I like just the opposite. I like a dump in the worst part of town with a meal to be remembered for eternity. Like the classic Billy Crystal character on SNL, she thinks it’s more important to look good than to feel good. 

I look at glasses as half full. She looks at glasses and says, “You knowhoney, these glasses are sooo last year and don’t match anything we have. It’s time we bought some new ones.”

And somehow, over the years, we have each given up some ground but have not abandoned our positions. I now love shopping for clothes for myself. There was a time I didn’t know an Oscar de la Renta from an Oscar de la Hoya, but now I can tell a Zegna from a Zorro, a Dana Buchman from a Dana Carvey and Jhane Barnes from a Barnaby Jones. 

And as far as Hope goes, she now appreciates I can do things around the house without calling down to the super, who we left 12 years ago in New York. She has also learned that there were indeed six Three Stooges — Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp, Curly Joe, and Joe deRita. But she still thinks musicals are not real and that the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his chest.

While we hold our ground, she does sometimes surprise me and, ahem, change my way of thinking. I affectionately call her Hurricane Hope, altering everything in her path. But then I realized it sometimes takes a hurricane to change yourlife and to challenge everything you thought was right, but, while not being wrong, may have needed to be shaken up. Hope is that hurricane and my life has been torn loose from its moorings ever since, on a new kind of journey. But I’ll never give her the satisfaction of hearing me say it!

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