Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vive La Différence

Last Wednesday, the New York Times had an interesting article here on the nature of male friendships:
Researchers say women's friendships are face to face: They talk, cry together, share secrets. Men's friendships are side by side: We play golf. We go to football games.
The story reminded me of an incident that happened almost twenty years ago. My boyfriend at the time and I had been invited to a barbeque at the home of a couple we both knew. The wife and I spent nearly 45 minutes in the house, making the salad, setting the table and talking. The couple was having marital difficulties, and she explained that they had finally agreed to visit a counselor. The wife talked about the many things she and her husband were learning about each other, things that surprised them both after more than five years of marriage.

While we were talking, the two men were out on the deck with the grill and the steaks.

Later that night, in the car on the way home, I asked my BF what the husband had said about the counseling sessions. He responded, "We didn't talk about that."

I said, "Oh, you don't want to tell me ..."

He interrupted to say, "No, it's not that. We didn't talk about it."

A little offended, I answered, "Look, it's okay if you'd rather not talk about it, but just say that, okay?"

He finally convinced me that subject of the counseling, the marriage, the troubles, had never been broached during the 45 minutes the two men had been out on the deck. I was floored.

That December, we attended a show called Defending the Caveman by a comedian named Rob Becker. The premise of the one-man show is that, based upon evolutionary instincts, women and men are emotionally different as well as biologically different.

While describing an incident with his own wife, Becker presented an almost word-for-word version of that discussion my boyfriend and I had had in the car. My BF practically fell off his seat in the Majestic Theatre; he was laughing that hard.

The Times article writer shared this about his friends:
I've played poker with the same guys every Thursday night for 18 years. We rarely talk about our lives. We talk about cards, betting, bluffing.

I used to say that my poker buddies don't even know my kids' names. But then I wondered if I was exaggerating. So one night I turned to my left at the poker table and casually asked my friend Lance: "Hey Lance, could you name my children?"

He shrugged, paused to think, then smiled sheepishly. "I could rename them," he said.
There's a song in My Fair Lady where Henry Higgins asks, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?"
One man in a million may shout a bit.
Now and then, there's one with slight defects.
One perhaps whose truthfulness you doubt a bit,
But by and large we are a marvelous sex!
Today I'm celebrating that difference. I don't always understand it. At times it makes me crazy. But I never regret it.


Sharon said...

I learned a long time ago not to expect my husband to have a conversation with one of my sons about a serious issue that needed to be addressed. He'd say a quick sentence, there would be some mumbling on both sides, and then they'd talk about football. When I would ask about the outcome, my husband would say that everything was fine. I decided to have those necessary conversations myself, and that saved time and energy for all involved. Interesting post.

Maya Reynolds said...

Sharon: The beauty of your comment is that, because of your understanding, your sons received the benefit of both the yin and the yang from their parents.

I find that simply marvelous.