I had been venting in an email earlier in the week, and this friend did what had to be a very difficult thing for him, which was that he just listened. He wrote back that it definitely was his nature to automatically "fix things" but that he understood that, sometimes, women really do just want men to listen. How about that, ladies....a man who really does recognize that simple truth! He admitted that he "got it" but also admitted that his knee-jerk tendency is always going to be to just jump right in and fix the situation in a typically manly fashion. I'm joking at bit at the expense of all men, of course. They could shoot right back with their own pithy comments on our typically female tendencies.
The whole spark for this conversation was that this guy friend really, really (no, REALLY) likes to fix things. It's just his nature. My nature is that I like to really, really (no, REALLY) analyze things. While I was replying via email, my mind drifted back to a conversation that I had had with a group of girlfriends, probably a good twenty years ago. It was about the silly things we all do when home alone that we would rarely admit to anyone.
For example, I still am not that comfortable letting a hand or foot dangle off the side of the mattress in the middle of the night because, well, the Thing That Lives Under The Bed could grab me. I've always wondered, honestly, do men think these things? Or even worry about them? Or is it just a female tendency? And if men don't think or worry about such things, what are their quiet little secrets that they'd simply die before admitting to us?
Getting back to the subject of men vs. women, yes, it probably doesn't make sense that we females do want to vent to you men, but we don't necessarily want you to fix things - we want you to listen. I'm repeating that concept, because it tends to make men just sort of stop and stare with a puzzled expression, or perhaps scratch your head a bit.
"'Just listen, she says,'" you echo. "No killing, or conquering necessary. Hmmph. Go figure."
We know you probably don't get exactly why we want that, because you're much more comfortable with fixing the issue at hand. Fixing means action is involved and that's a comfortable spot for men. Listening involves, well, listening and not blasting testosterone.
I.e., in your most reasonable, manly tone, you much prefer to say to us, "Just show me what to aim at so I can kill it for you and we can go eat dinner."
I went on to say that, conversely, we females don't get how, when there's a creepy noise outside, you men automatically leap out of bed, grab the nearest bashing-their-brains-out tool at hand, and go OUTSIDE to investigate. We women know that that's what the bed linens are for - to pull over your head and wait until the creepy noise goes away. However, this practical attitude changes somewhat if you're going to leave us alone, in the dark, in the bedroom while you go stalk the creepy noise.
In that case, we suddenly become a big fan of your manly qualities, leap from the bed and plaster ourselves to your heels as you stalk that creepy noise. That way, we're assured of the fact that we won't die in that darkened bedroom all alone while you're OUTSIDE, investigating. This is when it immediately makes perfect sense to suddenly embrace the logic of the opposite sex. Women recognize that the person left in the darkened bedroom, or living room, etc., in any B-grade horror movie is the one that dies first, and usually, most hideously. Men are more concerned with bashing something a good lick or two so they can come back inside, dust their hands off and fall into bed to sleep the sleep of a job well done.
Personally, I'd love to have that approach at times, because it is direct, to the point and it seems so simple and efficient. Is that my nature? Of course not! Being the analytical type that I am, I prefer to poke at the situation, circle around it, maybe shift it a few inches over to that side, then maybe push it right back where it started, then have a cup of hot tea while I think about it from another angle. This would drive most self-respecting manly men quietly out of their minds, I realize. Not to mention the fact that if it were one of those B-grade horror movies, I'd have already gotten my head and my hand lopped off when I poked at the issue to begin with.
This is how my writer's imagination takes hold of a tiny thread of thought and just dives in with creative enthusiasm. I can't help it. Questions start to swim in my brain, demanding answers.
When men are all alone for a long weekend, say that their spouse or significant other is on a business trip, do they tend to leave more lights on throughout the house at night? That girlfriend conversation I mentioned from years ago shared some hilarious examples of what women do when their spouse or boyfriend is away for more than one night, and I must point out that many of them had to do with avoiding The Thing That Lives Under The Bed. This made me feel SO much better that I wasn't the only person alive who is leery of that critter!
One anecdote involved a girlfriend taking a running leap to jump into bed from several feet away, thus avoiding walking right up to the mattress and running the risk of getting her ankle grabbed by The Thing. (Apparently, it is Universally recognized by all females that when the guy is home, The Thing isn't as brave about grabbing ankles or a dangling over the mattress hand. Again, it's probably something about testosterone being present.) She went on to tell us that she kept a stack of books on the bedside table to throw at the wall switch to turn off the overhead light, rather than do her running leap in the dark. She also slept right slap in the center of the mattress so that The Thing wouldn't know which side she would jump out of in the morning - and her exit, similar to her entry, was a huge, giant leap that she made certain spanned a good three feet from the edge of the mattress, guaranteeing that her Exit Strategy placed her well beyond the territory of the dreaded Ankle Grab Zone. I hadn't ever thought of that maneuver, but I do remember laughing so hard at the tales admitted to in that conversation that I was crying and my face was cramping up.
It's the eternal debate - men and women really DO approach things differently. I can guarantee that anyone reading this blog is sitting there, sagely nodding....men and women alike, with myriad scenarios running through their mind that make complete sense to their specific gender, but would mystify the other gender completely. I would also hazard a guess that the biggest percentage of those scenarios are just downright funny if you were to put them into written format. If you're so inclined, after reading this blog, please feel free to share your own Mars vs. Venus anecdotes in the Comments section. I'm always up for hearing more hilarious anecdotes and variations to a theme!
There really isn't a higher-minded, spiritual purpose to this particular post. The friend I was chatting with via email just pointed out to me that I had entertained him with a few brief comments on the subject and suggested it might make for a good blog topic. I agreed, and sat down to write on the topic and this is what I finished with. It is meant to read as a lighthearted, good-natured view of both sexes and how we uniquely approach life. If I made you laugh, then my job was well done and I'm happy. I have laughed multiple times while writing out the memories and the various scenarios. Laughter is healing and joyful, so perhaps that could be considered the spiritual application of this blog entry.
Men and women are intrinsically different with our respective approaches to life, and therein lies that ages old, humor-filled, eternally fascinating, dichotomy.