A Man Said

“Well, it’s like she thinks you’re a computer and could just process the pattern.” My brother paused, “I’m sure I could.” He paused. “Are you sure they didn’t teach this to you already?”


“I was the one who knew the most in my last class and somehow, I missed a turn. At least it feels that way,” I needed to complain to my brother.


I scramble to learn each of the verb categories in the week between classes; each evening marks the time from this revelation and the official introduction. This anxiety should not be an unfamiliar one for women, a quick turn around to shape our ability to perform as similar as we can to one particular form. A masculine one, an overconfident one.


For those who are unfamiliar, as I was only days ago, all Hebrew conjugation stems from a past tense form. This form is the singular masculine third person. In short, what a man said.


--


After several days of randomly running across nostalgia, I reset my radio dial. Now convinced of both its value and permanence, at least as far as radio is concerned, I tell my dad, “There’s a new oldies station. I heard it. 101.11.”


“I don’t live in the past,” My dad didn’t hesitate.


This was not the response I expected.


“Your mother never wanted you to listen to those,” My dad usually remined me of this anytime we reminisce the memory of Saturday morning drives the Volvo with no seatbelts.


I don’t change the station back. Even if he didn’t want to revisit our shared memory of singing in the car when I was a child, I could at least reclaim the bouncy feelings in my first car driving out of the high school parking lot. I allow my hand to hover, tempted to stay, and move on.


Still, there are songs now that are harder to hear. The ones where women wait and have no expectations. The ones where the messaging of female standards is so shocking, I may not turn the dial but am no longer compelled to sing along. My voice cannot accompany the words,


A man said.


--


Despite my choices which may include objections to the world as is, it maintains its practices.


I crammed for a week to be ready with the verb background knowledge I needed to conjugate in past tense. All the rules meant to prepare me to apply what


A man said.


Changing my radio station back is irrelevant when every television station plays homage to Olivia Newton-John and a lyrical Grease medley.


“You’re the one that I want.”


Hmm. But in the form,


A man said.


No matter the medium, life stays rooted in the same, a type of permanent past tense. More or less, what


A man said.


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