Here is a Guest Post from Deb Clay (short story writer extraordinaire), who is a member of my writer's group. I so appreciated the way she put this together and thought my readers would enjoy it as well. Thank you Deb!
There is an interesting category of words in the English language called contranyms (or autoAntonyms). These are words that can have contradictory meanings depending on the context in which they are used. Here are just a few:
Bolt: To secure, or to flee
Bound: Moving toward a destination, or restrained form movement
Buckle: to connect, or to break and collapse
Cleave: to adhere, or to separate
Continue: to keep doing an action, or to suspend an action (as a ‘continuance’)
Dust: to sprinkle dust onto, or to remove dust from
Handicap: an advantage provided to ensure equality, or a disadvantage that prevents equal treatment
Temper: to soften, or to strengthen
Sanction: To approve, or to boycott
And the list goes on. But I believe the greatest contradiction on the face of the earth is woman. Any woman who has been a woman for a while (I refuse to state an age) is very familiar with this idea. Any man how has spent time with a woman (itonly takes about, umm maybe thirty seconds) is familiar with this idea. And if you are a married man you are either intimately familiar with the rest of this discourse or you are the most unobservant creature in the universe. So, let us delve into that mystery, that contradiction called woman.
We’ll begin with something simple. Body temperature. She may stand in the back yard on a frosty February morning wearing only a night shirt, sweating as if she had just run the LA marathon, all after cycling between being very hot and very cold three or four times every hour during the previous night. Talk about wreaking havoc on the circadian rhythm. One wonders why she doesn’t explode or simply drop from lack of sleep, but amazingly she seems to be adept at doing that Timex thing-you know, take a licking and keep on ticking. Speaking of taking a licking, one also has to wonder how the gentler, weaker sex, in spite of all her frailties and delicateness can carry and birth a child and live to tell the story. My mother calls childbirth standing at death’s door. Isn’t it ironic that a woman has the strength to stand at death’s door yet is so frail that men feel compelled to open doors for her?
Then there is the seat of the most contradictory part of woman, the part most notorious, the part that causes the strongest of men to quiver in their boots. The emotions. Just say that word and most men will break into a cold sweat and search frantically for the nearest exit. They are lucky. They can escape. Woman is stuck with them—emotions, not men. She is ecstatic one minute and crying the next for no apparent reason. Oftentimes she doesn’t even know the reason.
And for you men out there, have you ever been through this scenario? “Hold me! Don’t touch me! Hold me! Don’t touch me? Hold me! Don’t touch me!” No wonder the men try to escape.
Yes, woman is indeed a contradiction. She holds within her a tenderness that can soothe the hurt of man, child and beast alike, yet her fury can bring a nation to its knees. Many men try their best to avoid the challenge of dealing with a woman’s many contradictions. I suppose that’s why they play golf, or go fishing, or sequester themselves in the den with the TV on weekends. But to the man who has the courage to navigate that heaving ocean of contradictions called woman, belongs a love and a devotion so sweet it will bring tears even to his eyes.