A couple of weeks ago, I went out for a dinner with some old friends (actually, they were my sorority sisters – or for those who really understand black Greek-letter organizations, I went out with about five of my nineteen line sisters). After dinner, I was not ready to call it a night, so I headed over to a familiar cigar bar for a smoke and for a drink. I had a seat at the bar, ordered a glass of wine, and within a few minutes a rather handsome man, handsome in my estimation that is, caught my eye. Eventually, we spoke and that led to more conversation with him and one of his friends who was visiting from out of town.
As I enjoyed their company, my glass of wine and later a cigar, in that order, the rather handsome man asked me, “What’s your sign?” On the one hand, I was not offended by it. I don’t take everything about astrology to be all bad, and to be quite frank, it was astrology that gave birth, so to speak, to astronomy. About a year ago I learned that many atheists have major problems with the mere mention of astrology. I learned that after writing a blog where I mentioned astrology and the backlash against anything positive or noteworthy about astrology was pretty harsh. I was a little troubled by the negative reaction that was displayed; it was what I would characterize as very dismissive and hateful toward astrology and anyone who spoke well of it. But in some respects it did not catch me totally off-guard.
Many atheists, at least the ones that regularly participate in online atheist forums, are white. Given the history of European peoples to discredit and dismiss the practices of non-white indigenous peoples, I was not that shocked with the knee-jerk responses to astrology which informed the development of astronomy as a scientific field. Grant it, I’m not at all supporting the efforts of tricksters and charlatans that co-opted legitimate and systematic practices of astrology or other forms of star-gazing for their personal gain (and that by exploiting many people), but, as a front-runner to astronomy, I am and always have been fascinated with the study of the stars and what we have learned about ourselves and our existence here on planet earth through that study. And, the fact that the earth itself originated from a former star leaves me with lots of questions about the energy or influence that stars have upon the earth and all its inhabitants, especially human beings.
On the other hand, if astrology is what someone uses to predict the success of a relationship with someone else, or if it is used to predict the success of one’s day-to-day feelings or of one’s life in general, then I am quite leery. In fact, such notions make me nervous. I trust that most people reading this blog have seen the failure of a relationship or two, and thus they know that it was not the stars or the position of the stars that ended those former relationships, rather it was the inability of two people to stay together, for one reason or another, that caused the dissolution of those relationships. Indeed, I am grateful for all of the relationships that I have encountered in my forty plus years of life. The good, the bad, and the ugly have all gone into making me who I am today.
Having said that, at the bar that night, I was hoping for much more than a conversation about “my sign,” or the position of the stars on the day that I was born. I was hoping for an interesting conversation in general, perhaps one about current events, or things happening in my life or his life. Frankly, I was hoping for an intriguing discussion about something of interest to this guy, something beside his thoughts on how astrologically and thus sexually compatible he thought we were on the basis of the twelve astrological constellations. We did touch on some other things, but he kept coming back to the matter of “our signs.” I took that to mean that he did not really have much else to say, so he expressed himself with what I suppose was most easy and familiar to him: “what’s your sign?” Boring.
I thought to myself, wow, is this all that he can say? In all that he had lived through, we had lived through, he could not find more to talk about, obsess about, than what the stars allegedly had to say about our sexual compatibility. Dayum. Another one. Unfortunately, there are many men like this, who will use just about anything, the stars included, as a means to barter for sex. Some use dinner, some use stars. I find it to be quite cheap, desperate, and a low blow to their own integrity and desires. In fact, I have much more respect for a man who comes right out and says, “I am so sexually attracted to you that eventually, maybe tonight, I would like to experience sex with you,” than I do with a man who goes down the block and around the corner with enticing but speculative narratives and stories. Such a statement doesn’t mean that I would oblige him, but I can at least respect the honesty because the latter, the elusive type of guy does not seem to display much confidence in himself. Why on earth would I or should I want to have sex with a man who lacks confidence in himself? You tell me.
Years ago, my mother asked me, “How do you know so soon after meeting a man that you are not interested in him?” She wondered this because she marveled at how little time it took me to figure out if I wanted to be with a man or not. Even when I was in high school I was pretty scrutinizing when it came to male companionship. I found adolescent boys who engaged in hissing and cat-calls to get my attention to be quite childish and silly. Actually, I found that kind of communication offensive. Instead, I was always attracted to the guys who told me directly what they were thinking; usually, it was the older guys who did this (the ones who were old enough to be in college – though often they were not for various reasons – usually because they were more interested in working and making money). So, looking back, I guess I could say that I would not allow myself to get that deep, no pun intended, with a guy who did not really appeal to me (it was not until much later in life that I started acquiescing and taking bigger chances in this regard.)
The men who did not think and think well fell into that category (the “I don’t really have anything of value to say” category). And, it is sad to say, but percentage-wise this is a very BIG category today (based on what I know about dating men as a single woman). Every man is not equal when it comes to thinking. Every man is not operating with the same skill–set and cognitive abilities. Some are deficient, and then some are better, highly skilled at thinking and thus at being present to themselves and others. Put another way, some men (and women for that matter) are still thinking at a high-school level, even though they are in their forties, fifties, and beyond. So, though it may take me a minute to let go of the ones that I am really into, and the ones that I am sexually attracted to, I leave non-thinking and thinking-deficient men in the dust every time. And I make no apologies for that. Nor do I feel the need to explain something to someone who probably would not understand or agree with what I would be explaining anyway. There are certain situations when I don’t necessarily seek out understanding or agreement to make up my mind about whether to keep a man in my life (i.e., when a man is not thinking, being dishonest or misrepresenting himself or his situation).
Thinking does it for me. In life, work, love and even in the act of sex, I am most fulfilled with those who share common values and a thirst for knowledge. Men who have not taken the time to increase their knowledge about many subjects; such as politics, philosophy, history, social phenomena (racism, sexism, heterosexism), jazz and thus leisure activities, etc., and those who seem to have no real thinking behind the things they do or believe in on a daily basis don’t do it for me. Sometimes I give men who don’t seem to think the benefit of the doubt, but I eventually rule them out (better yet, they eventually rule themselves out of my life). The same is true for my relationships with women and work. My inner circle of friends and confidantes consists of people who think freely for themselves and who make decisions in life based on solid, rational grounds that are supported by evidence for what we know to be true and for what may reasonably have been true. Referencing astrological configurations as if they are reasonable bases for sexual compatibility, love, or intimacy, as if the stars and the atmosphere are like a giant crystal ball at our daily disposal are not things that I use to determine success when it comes to physical or emotional expressions.
Whether at work, play, in love or as a part of sex, a conversation about one’s personal sign is a mere conversation piece to me; it is not an invitation to something serious (and for those who know me, they know that I am, very much so, a very serious person when it comes to love and justice). And, while I like science, as fascinated as I am with the possibility of potential relationships between the stars, this planet and all its inhabitants, the men who catch my attention, the ones who make the best and most lasting impressions, are those who have the ability to talk about much more than the position and the power of the stars. They are the ones who are able to show me who they really are without shame and on the first impression.
© 2014 annalise fonza, Ph.D.