May 13, 2009

Part-Time Hustlers

This is a repost from a blog I follow and love, A belle in Brooklyn. The idea of a side piece, mistress, whatever you wanna call it - has been around since the beginning of time. I think Belle does an awesome job of looking at it from a different perspective. Take a look and feel free to see the original post here.

Part-time Hustlers

As you might know, I'm obsessed with HBO. Any movie that comes on and almost any dramatic series produced (except Deadwood), I'll watch just because I know it'll be good. It's not TV. It's HBO.

So I'm watching re-runs of House of Sadam and it's at the part where after like 25 years of marriage, Sadam decides to take on a second "wife." Not sure how official she is, but she's not boss lady, doesn't produce an heir, and no one really respects her. But she does get to pal around with the fearless leader, spend his dough and have all access to fly ish and sex.

When all the shit hits the fan and the Americans invade Iraq, the wife gives up her house and has to flee in the night. She gets out the country with a bankroll, but worries constantly that people are looking for the family and because their money was ill-gotten if it will be seized. The second wife/side chick? She doesn't have Sadam (neither does wife 1), but she does have a bankroll of her own, no one to answer to and she aint worried about a thing. She's safe and off everybody's radar.

I noted a similar set-up during my re-read of The Coldest Winter Ever. When Papa Santiaga gets popped, the feds seize the family house, the cars, the money, essentially everything. The family's broken up and of the six members only 2 end up okay. But the side piece is chillin. She has dough and no headache. Her man is gone but she's 22 and pretty. She'll be just fine.

So this got me to thinking about the benefits of the side piece. And when I say SP, I don't mean a jump off, I mean a mistress type. And before anyone goes crazy, I don't advocate for taking this position (if for no other reason than karma, to avoid drama, and its a slippery slope to heartache and headache), but a lot of women happily play that position. A lot. So I just want to examine why.

Here's the deal. Often when we think of the other woman, we think of some unfortunate chick who couldn't get a man of her own. We're told we should want a whole man, to be the only one because that's what any self-respecting woman should want. But I'm thinking there's more to the side-piece phenomenon than a woman with low self esteem. Maybe what we Belle readers (because we're all super self-respecting and would never, ever settle for any man... Insert sarcasm now) call a whore, is really a smart chick who figured out how to get the benefits of a relationship without the obligations of one.

Ride with for a few minutes more. I'm going somewhere with this.

I was watching Grey Gardens a couple weekends back (still can't get a blog going on that. It brought up a lot of ish and I'm way late on it now) and there's a scene with Little Edie explaining to her married suitor why she only dates married men: she wants to be an actress and he'll let her work, ie she can have his company when he can spare it one night per week and she gets the freedom, unlike a wife, to do as she pleases

Like Chris Rock's take on OJ's alleged killing spree, 'I don't condone it, but I understand.' Being the side hustle works well for a particular segment of women who aren't so worried about having kids and families. This position doesn't give you full benefits, of course (part-time work generally doesn't), but there are some. Like actresses who bartend or waitress so they can free up their schedule at a moments notice to go for an audition, the side hustle has its perks. And side work, when managed properly, can come without a full day's headaches.

Let's be clear: sometimes a relationship is a headache or mind-numbingly mundane. (I can make a good argument that good relationships should be relatively boring. Excitement typically comes with a degree of drama, which is bad for stability.) Relationships also mean a degree of obligation— putting out when you don't feel like it, attending events you rather die than sit through, listening to conversations about feelings and other yawn-inducing topics that bore you almost to death. You like have to answer the phone, have to call back in a timely manner, have to check-in, not because you're a child, but out of respect for your partner. You have to communicate constantly, you have to compromise, you have to be considerate, you have to put the "we" before the "I." And frankly, all that can be taxing. I get how a self-respecting woman would say 'no thank you' and just stick around for the good parts.

Sure a side-piece has it's lows. You're not committed (or if you have sense, you shouldn't be) and neither is he to you. You can get laid off with no notice since there's no contract (only a marriage lisence is binding really), but you can also legitimately carry more than one "job" to protect yourself against an untimely firing.Yeah, you'll probably spend holidays alone and it's doubtful anyone's coming by to nurse you back to health when you're sick. But that's kinda the worst of it.

And is that such a bad trade-off for freedom if that's what you ultimately want?

Like I said, I don't condone it, but I get it.

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