Sunday, October 27, 2013

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman

One of my earliest memories was a confusing experience for an eight year old. After a busy day of freeze tag and “Mother May I” in Texas’ relentless heat and dust with my neighborhood friends, I stumbled into my friend Stephanie’s house for some water. Her mother was in the kitchen, back to me, stirring something in a pot and she was humming along to music so loud, she didn’t even hear me walk in. Just then, her father rumbled down the stairs, entered through a different door by the living room and surprised her with a kiss on the neck. She laughed flirtatiously, almost like a teenager and continued singing to him. I’ll never forget her voice, a bit off key but full of confidence: You make me feel like a natural whoaaamunn!

I stared wide-eyed, quest for water forgotten, and headed to my end of the cul-de-sac wondering what a “natural woman” was, and how did one come to feel like one. I thought, “Am I a natural woman yet? Is my mom one? Is this good?”

I should probably point out that as the daughter of a minister in a strict, conservative household, I really didn’t know any music beyond the Christian variety and a little Whitney Houston. Plus, I was eight. I probably wasn’t supposed to understand Aretha. But now, as an adult, I think I’ve got it.

Sometimes, fellas… you all say just the right thing, or remember just the right detail, or give us an unexpected gift that makes us warm inside. But often, it is your gift of touch that truly does the trick. For my friend Stephanie’s parents, it was a kiss at the nape of her neck. It’s these little things that makes us feel cherished, feel feminine, feel special, and yes… like a natural woman. What are they? I’ve gathered some stories from my girlfriends willing to open up:

1.       Her Feet. “A while back, I’d been dating a guy for a few months and for date night, we opted to stay in and order takeout. As I spread the takeout menus on the carpet, he casually picked up my right leg, put my foot in his lap and applied pressure using his long, nimble fingers and strong hands in a circular motion. I have no idea what we ended up ordering for dinner that night, but I remember his touch.” - Washington, DC

2.       His Chest. “In this day and age, women are independent, modern, doing things on our own. But I have no problem admitting that the place that I feel most safe is early in the morning, just before the sun comes up, when my husband pulls me onto his chest and nuzzles his scruffy goatee in my curls. It is in these moments that he is downright possessive. His arm encircles me, and he purposefully entangles our legs so that I can’t move. Luckily, I never want to.” - Phoenix, Arizona

3.       Her Waist. “We attended a concert together for the first time. It was an intimate venue, the kind where you’re not far from the stage and you’re likely to make friends with others in the crowd. As the floor filled with folks, I stood in front of him and he pulled me close, holding me at my waist. He kept time to the music by tapping me on either side, and with his warm body behind me swaying to the music, I felt the music most acutely there at my waist.” - Los Angeles, CA

4.       His Arms. “I remember it was maybe our third date and we were at the mall, walking to the theatre to catch a movie (The Pursuit of Happyness!). My (now) husband is a really popular DJ in the area and he’s constantly being stopped by people who want to say hello or take a picture. On this day, a few young women came up to him squealing with delight. As we approached, he put his arm around my shoulders casually, and told them, 'Hi, how are you? This is Amanda and we’re headed to the movies. But good seeing you!' Without making the situation awkward, he used a casual gesture to indicate that I was someone special to him who deserved respect. I’d been so used to guys trying so hard to maintain an appearance of singleness at all times, it immediately put me at ease.” - Philadelphia, PA

Sometimes, it seems our impatience compels us to head straight for the horizontal polka. But imagine how much more special, how much more intimate, how much more fulfilling our relationships would be if men slowed down and took the time to make their loved one feel like a natural woman? If you haven’t discovered that intimate – but not sexual – kind of touch that makes her smile, you’re both losing.

For every woman, it may be different. What makes you feel like a natural woman? What does your significant other really appreciate?