Part 2: Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships – Chapter 21

Chapter 21
I was on top of the world after that night. My life seemed so perfect. We shared our first week with each other talking and feeling excited about us. It all seemed like a dream. I never expected to be this happy. The second week passed and Flip and I had talked about everything. About how I had adjusted and how he and Tina were doing. I knew that the day we went to church together that everything had changed in Tina and Flip’s lives. I could see it in her confidence and in the way he said her name everytime he had a chance. For the first time since Flip and I had been boys we shared the same thoughts about women and relationships. I remember saying that if there were three men, one would be Stage Four, one would be Stage Three and the other Stage Two. In all honesty I’m not sure how that one works. But I can confirm how Flip and I were, Stage Three all the way, the right way.
The wrong way would’ve been decisions to be with the ladies strictly for our own personal reasons. We laughed and joked at work and it made the days fly by. Our spirits seemed to affect everyone. The guys on the line seemed to be pushing out the equipment just as fast as we could inspect it. Even the engineers upstairs were coming down to the floor and inspecting stuff, at least trying to inspect stuff. Work was good and life was great, life is great.

“Flip, I know that we said we’d talk about this a while back, but I guess it just slipped our minds.”
“What is it?”
He grabbed his empty lunch bag from the office refrigerator. Tina had been making lunch for him to bring so he could start budgeting. I still paid for my lunch, Janice wasn’t that motherly, which wasn’t bad. I liked the way she was. I would cook sometimes and she would cook sometimes, but mainly we ate pizza.
We walked towards the front of the building to my car. We had started carpooling. The increase in production had enabled Flip to keep regular hours for almost a month. We got in the car and headed down I-5.
“At dinner that Sunday you tried to tell me something,” I said.
“Tina and I consummated the relationship.” Flip didn’t like saying, “Hit it or got the skins,” cause that’s what you said when you didn’t care about the woman.
“Belated congratulations.” I put my fist out for him to give me a pound. He dropped his fist on mine and continued to drive.
“It was perfect. As scared as she was, it still turned out perfect, you feel me?”
I did feel him. I knew exactly how he felt.
“We got it good man. You know?” I said.
“You know what I feel best about, other than having Tina in my life?”
“Your conscious is clear?”
“I guess that’s good too, but I’m glad me and you don’t fit into that category anymore.”
“Which one the dog category?”
“Yep,” Flip replied.
“You think there are any other brothers out there like us?” I asked.
“Of course, we ain’t obsolete.”
I suppose he was right but you wouldn’t know it from how brothers act at the clubs, hell how I acted at the clubs and in the streets. I liked where I was in life.
A handbook can pull someone’s life together if he lives the handbook. I know that now. I suppose that I could easily place some silly statement in here to add to the first three stages, but it wouldn’t make any sense. I think you have a grasp of what I’ve been trying to detail. If you don’t I can outline them and show you more directly. I just didn’t think it made sense to just give out the rules without explaining how I developed the philosophy. I wanted you to get an understanding that I actually thought about this and took some time to pass it on in the best way I know how. But if you can bear with me a little longer, I’ll give you the final stage, but here we go with the first three in a summation, I hope you don’t mind.
Stage One: Life follows a set pattern. It can twist and turn in accordance with how you respond to a certain action. If a man has been hurt he develops a thick skin instantly. Some instances he develops this skin because it looks like it’s cool to his boys. This skin allows him to go out and literally take advantage of women in any way he chooses. Because of this outer surface he has built, he can no longer tell his outer appearance from his true self. He loses his soul and his conscience. A woman becomes like a cheap pair of shoes, something to slide in and out of for a short time, and then thrown away. Sometimes a brother will even say he loves the woman during this phase, Stage One is a living lie that changes day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute and every second that he breathes. In this phase he could care less about his partners, he’s reckless and sad. Life becomes about the conquest and how much you can run the board. Like a game of Monopoly, it’s all about how much property you get in the shortest amount of time. A boy in a candy store will remain a boy in the store until he learns that too much is bad for him.
Stage Two: The candy store has caused a cavity and now the boy has learned that too much of a good thing can be harmful. But he hasn’t learned to respect women. He only knows that he can’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong women because there are consequences. Life is still about the conquest, but now the conquest has to be made with someone that has a little potential. Enough potential, that if anything came up and the brother has found that he will be bonded to this person for life, he won’t mind. It won’t make him feel as if he made a huge mistake. There aren’t any benefits in either of the stages for the woman. It is a self-centered time for a man and can last as long as he can deal with shattering dreams. As long as he can stand finding out all he can about a woman and then dropping her like a hot potato. Usually a brother doesn’t sit at this stage for too long because it eventually wears him down.
Stage Three: Oddly enough, the stress and wear and tear of knowing too much about a woman drives a man to a point in his life where he decides that from now on he won’t use a woman anymore. He decides to settle down. This is the only stage that has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that he’s willing to work through problems instead of saying forget it and leaving. He wants everything to work out. The disadvantage is, that often he settles down with the first woman that catches him going into this stage. He isn’t really being honest with himself about how he feels about his lady. He just knows that it’s time to quit the race. In some cases, a guy at this point in his life is settling down for all the right reasons. In many cases this happens and the man moves on to Stage four. When he chooses to be with a woman for the former reason it results typically in a break-up and in the case of the man who marries in this stage, it ends in divorce.
That’s it. The whole setup laid out in a way that you can apply to everyday life. Oh, I guess I forgot a stage didn’t I. Take a trip with me to December the 3rd 1998. Flip and I had been with our ladies for over a year and everything was still going well. Tina and Flip had moved in together after weighing all of the pros and cons. Janice had a key to my crib and we were actually looking at houses. I had no intention on moving in with her yet. I still felt a little insecure about some things. I’m not afraid to say that. Flip and I were still working at MCC and eating lunch together and talking shit on the line.
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