Authors: Whoopi Goldberg
Tags: #Humor / Form / Anecdotes & Quotations
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To my entire family, past and present
For all the relationships I had or ever will have
And especially to my brother Clyde
During the time that I was writing this book, my big brother, Clyde, passed away. For me, he was the greatest big brother one could have. When I was little and his friends complained that he was bringing his little sister everywhere, he would say, “Either she comes or I don’t go.” We remained very close in our early years, and then kind of drifted apart for many reasons in our twenties and thirties. In our late thirties we came back together; he became my driver and my confidant for years. The adventures were many. Somewhat wild. And nothing we can talk about in this book.
As you may know, my family was very small. It was just my mother, my brother, and me. And there’s something to be said for the Three Musketeers.
The loss of Clyde was a big surprise, and something that I’m sure won’t hit me fully for a long time. I’m dedicating this book to him because what I write about here evolved over a lot of conversations he and I had together on these very subjects.
ey! I’m really glad you picked up this book.
People had a lot to say when they heard I was writing this: “How dare you,” “Why do you think you can write this?” “You’re not a shrink, you’re not even a TV Judge.” Well, that’s all correct. I’m just Whoopi, who has a lot of fun and who has made a few mistakes along the way, and I hope to help you steer clear of the common mistakes we ALL seem to make.
I came to the conclusion that for me the things that are required in a relationship are not things I’m willing to do. Wow! I don’t know if I’ve heard anyone say that out loud or if I’ve read it in a book anywhere else.
What I hope, though, is that you read this and say, “Hey, I’m going to try that, it makes perfect sense,” or “Maybe not” and then you can move on to the next chapter. I can’t be everything to everyone all the time, so some of this may not work for you. These are just suggestions.
You can read this book in the bathroom; no one will
have to know. You can quote it on occasion to other people who are making the same sort of jumps or “mistakes” that you’ve already made.
The point is, this is what I figured out for me. If it works for you, great, and if it doesn’t, there is always another book for you somewhere else.
So, read on, and I hope for you the very best.
or the past seven or eight years, I’ve have been sitting on
, a supposed women’s talk show that deals with what women want. I have to say I’ve been kind of surprised by a lot of women’s responses to things said on the show. And I thought this was odd, because I
a woman, right? Still, a lot of the things I have heard—and still hear—on the show regarding relationships just don’t make a lot of sense to me. And if what I am hearing from other women about what they want makes no sense to me, there is clearly a disconnect. So I feel I have to address this.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s start at the
very beginning. That’s always a very good place to start.
We’ve all been brainwashed with false expectations.
That’s right. Brainwashed.
For example, when you’re watching the Nature channel and see animals that have mated—lions, let’s say. So with lions, you know there’s the pride, which is the lions’ big extended family or pack: the big mammy lion and the papa lion and the baby lions, and they are all together, right? They don’t futz around, I don’t think. The mammy lion goes out and gets the gazelle and brings it back, and she eats first and then she leaves the rest for the papa lion—or the other way around. But the point is, they are one big happy family.
And penguins. You know how cute they are. The mother penguin walks across the tundra to lay the egg, and the father comes and sits on the egg, and the mother goes and swims, just like in
. Then the mother comes back up with a draggle of food to feed everybody. And they’re all one big happy family.
You look at the monkeys. Monkeys mate for life. And whales. And wolves. Plenty of animals mate for life: Gibbons and titi monkeys. Swans. Black vultures. French angel fish (but not American angel fish, which seems backward, given the French’s tendency for mistresses… ). The albatross. Termites. Bald eagles. Barn owls. Bats. Prai
rie voles (which look like little rats). Turtle doves.
My point is that from the time you’re a little kid, you’re getting all these signals of what love and marriage and family are supposed to be. Some people even bring religion into it and say that’s the way God intended it. That two people are supposed to be together forever.
But not every species mates for life.
Dolphins do not mate for life. They do, however, have the ability to create strong, long-lasting relationships with one another, and some species of dolphin may even travel with several generations of family members. For instance, the killer whale—actually a dolphin, by the way—may be found swimming with up to three generations of family members within its pod. However, these dolphins will mate only with partners outside their pod, in order to prevent intercourse with other family members—what we humans would call incest. In fact, most species of dolphins are very sexual animals and are known to mate with several partners throughout the course of a year. Some dolphin species may even choose to have sex at any time of the year, unlike some of the whale species, which hook up only during their mating season. Not all dolphin species mate equally during the course of the year, though.
Yet, given the mythology of relationships I’d been exposed to, I thought dolphins mated for life. Until I
did my research and learned that, in fact, most species
mate for life.
What you may have noticed missing in these descriptions of animals that mate for life, and what the research makes clear, is that nowhere on this list is Man.
And nowhere on this list is Woman.
We, I think, are the only species that can choose when to have sex or whom to have sex with. We’re not like other animals, who are doing it to procreate and get stuff done.
Except the apes—they love to fuck. They just do. I don’t know why. Chimps and bonobos, in particular. They will bone everybody and anybody. Apes just happen to be our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, which isn’t to say we will bone just about anybody and everybody. Although some of us will…
Anyway, as we look at these lists of who mates for life, we see that humans are nowhere to be found. I think that’s a big deal. Maybe if we knew that when we got together with someone or got married, that it didn’t have to be for life, perhaps we would be better at it.
When I was growing up, there was this whole
Leave It to Beaver
ideal we were all supposed to live up to. I grew up in a housing project in Chelsea, New York, and there were all sorts of people there—blacks, whites, Asians, yellow people, brown people, orange people, gays, straights, big people, little people, you name it (if
I’ve left out your ethnic group, shoe size, or orientation, just insert it here)—all living together.
And single working mothers were the norm. My mother raised my brother, Clyde, and me on her own while going to work every day. She was elegant and smart, but she wasn’t Donna Reed.
Wait, do you even know who Donna Reed is? No? How about Carol Brady?
Anyway, my mother was better than these idealized moms. She was tougher and stronger and stricter, and it took just one look at her to know she was no-nonsense.
And if my mother wasn’t Carol Brady, my elder brother, Clyde, was no freckle-faced Beaver Cleaver… or Bobby Brady. If we each have a personal soundtrack following us around in life, Clyde’s would have been the theme song from
. He was
My mother and my brother gave me everything: they loved me and supported me and gave me the confidence I needed to go out in the world and do what I do. I felt like we were normal. But for some reason, in today’s world, the kind of family I had isn’t considered normal.
This idea of being “normal” and having a so-called “normal” family doesn’t really ring true for a whole lot of folks. If for anyone. Yet we are told that’s what we are supposed to strive for.
Meeting someone and staying with them forever, or
however long you live, has been ingrained in all of us somehow, and yet, up until the last century, who lived past forty? They didn’t have time for more than one or two spouses. They had no choice but to stay together, because they were dead before they knew it…
Okay, maybe that’s too harsh, but you get my drift.
Today we live much longer, and therefore have more time to screw things up, and we do. We oftentimes set ourselves up to fail, men and women. No one is spared… except… sometimes… maybe we give men a pass when they screw up because we figure they can’t help themselves and just want to plug a hole—even though we know there is more to them than that.
As a grown-up, I kind of feel you have to look at a person as a person. Each person is their own special individual.
There’s nobody more complicated than a human being. Straight, gay, black, white, or “other”—it doesn’t matter. The position we put ourselves in is incredibly complicated—mostly because we complicate it. My search in the last several years has been for how to be in an uncomplicated situation (aka relationship).
As you read this book, know that these are
solutions. They’re what I learned for
. I’m sharing them with you ’cause I would have liked someone to say to me a long time ago, “Hey, think about this!” This is what I
would like to have said to myself, if I could have written a letter to my younger self.
Along with, “Keep the bra.”
What I learned is I have to be honest about what I want.
For most of us, when we were little, we had this sweet idea—whether you’re a guy or a girl—that we would have this fairy-tale relationship, and the little birds would fly up to us and eat from our hands, and we would walk off into the sunset, and it would be brilliant and fantastic, and we would be perfect for each other.
But it usually doesn’t work like that, does it?