BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Men, love them and hate them.

(the hate part)

I come from a family of mostly boys. In the house where I grew up, there's a comfort room for boys and another for mum and me. As the world knows, some men just don't put the toilet seat back. It is rare that they close the doors when they relieve themselves. And before toothpaste manufacturers had the wisdom to put flip-open caps, fights over returning the toothpaste caps have been recorded all over the world.

In the kitchen, men wash the dishes in their own messy way. The sink just overflows with leftover food when they're done cleaning. In contrast, my mum's version is not only right, it is perfect. When men cook, there are pieces of vegetables or chopped meat all over the kitchen. Mum's way is nothing like that. As if the mess isn't enough, men wouldn't even have the slightest clue that they've actually made a mess of the kitchen.

Don't ask them to do the weekly grocery shopping. They will -- and I will bet the world -- forget something, no matter how many grocery lists you write. Actually, by some strange twist of fate, they might even lose the list on the way to the grocery store even if it's just a 5-minute drive. Oh, and please don't ask them to buy sanitary napkins. They are either too macho to oblige or too, hmm -- masculine to remember. Hoping they would do it would just leave you soaking in your own blood, literally and figuratively.

But I write this article no longer with my brothers or my father in mind. Just men in general. You see, I just finished a project for an organization. It was simple work but the headaches caused by having men oversee the tasks were just too much. They did not meet the deadlines. They did not check the proofs. They did not see the details. Heck, they don't even remember the agreement, the tasks and the responsibilities. And when the project got all f_cked up, they had to run to me for help. Is it unfair of me to conclude that it's all because they're men?

What's left to do but to sigh in frustration. Perhaps, this is the reason why women fall in love with the same sex.

(the love part)

Now, let's go to the love part. Some men, despite their follies, are so lovable and talented. My dad can do just about anything. He can talk his way out of any mess. He once talked his way out of a traffic altercation by offering an enforcer a left over cheese burger. He can breeze his way through airport security to send off my mum even if he has no flight tickets to show. He has constructed apartments, town houses and studio-types out of junk. No kidding. Scrap tiles, wood and metal he has accumulated through the years have served as materials for some of the best houses he has built. Once, in a foreign land on vacation, he earned enough to buy himself a vehicle simply because he built a treehouse out of nothing and out of boredom. To the amazement of the neighbors, he ended up providing handyman services to every house on the street and got paid for it.

The family joke is that my dad is the man who can fix anything and everything except his life.

And that's just my dad.

Jes is a jack of all trades and a master of all. With his eyes closed and hands all tied up, he can make magic. He can make book covers and artworks and photographs and gourmet dishes. Out of nothing. He can fix this and that. He can read maps and decode train routes in complicated European cities. He can be patient and he can be quiet. He can talk to children including special kids. He can travel from Afghanistan just to kill a rat and he can drive through hell or high waters.  He can charm an 18 year old and a cougar going on 60. Hey, he even tries to understand me.


I end this post with the conclusion that men, no matter how much you hate them, can be equally lovable. They probably exist to put some balance in the world -- to make women feel beautiful and for those who feel too beautiful than they actually are, to realize that they're not.

Men see things in black and white, if they see things at all. They don't sugarcoat. They just say it as it is. Black dresses are all the same. They can't tell the difference between a wedge and stiletto so don't expect a compliment when you're wearing your new pair. Oh and ladies' bags are all the same. Don't even ask them which one will suit you for the night's event. Be thankful if they actually notice you're wearing a bag. A fat woman is fat, no ifs or buts.

Perhaps, they exist to make the world simpler while women live to complicate it.

As Dave Barry once said, "Guys are simple...women are not simple and they always assume that men must be just as complicated as they are, only way more mysterious."