I am going to be up front and honest here. In today’s post I will be making some rather large, sweeping generalizations about men. I am aware that not all men are the same. Some are in a class all by themselves. But having grown up with a father and a brother, currently living with 2 sons and a husband and if the conversations I have with my friends are any indication- these generalizations are much like the stereotypes we all tend to avoid these days- based on fact, most often true, yet not appropriate to voice without offending someone. If this is not your first time reading my little blog, you are well aware of the fact that I am not particularly worried about the whole “offending others” thing. I’m simply about being honest and authentic.
So, here’s my sweeping generalization for this fine Friday night…
Men are simple creatures.
See? That wasn’t so bad. Yes it’s a stereotype, a cliche, the basis of thousands of relationship books and, well, really freakn’ true. You can put a cute name on it: Men are from Mars, Men are like waffles, whatever. Call it what you like, the fact remains… men are simple. Let me clarify, however. I don’t mean men are simple as in simple-minded. I am not labeling them is dumb or slow. But the truth of the matter is, the inner workings of a man’s mind are not an intricate series of complex wiring. I know this isn’t true of all men. Just most men. Yes, brother dear of mine, I know this does not include you. I think most men, in fact, would agree with this. I know DH would emphatically support my claim. In fact I have an evidential anecdote to prove that he would agree.
I can’t remember if DH and I were married yet when this event occurred, but nonetheless, this happened quite a while ago. We were walking through the mall and DH turned to me and made some sort of teasing remark. I have no idea for the life of me what he said, but I remember being slightly taken aback by said comment. “What did you mean by that?” I asked with barely contained shock and offense. “What do you mean, what did I mean?” he replied looking confused. “Well, it sounds like you were trying to tell me something with that comment. Is there something else you’re really trying to say? Was there a hidden meaning in that joke?”
Now at this point, DH (or DB since I can’t remember if he was boyfriend or husband status at the time) abruptly stops our trek through the mall. He pulls me up short, looks me in the eye and says the following, life changing words: “Listen. There is not now, nor will there ever be, any ‘hidden meaning.’ There is no ‘underlying message’. There is no ‘subtle hint.’ There are no ‘lines to read between’. It is what it is. What I say is what I say. If I didn’t say it, it wasn’t what I meant. There is no deeper thought beyond the words that come out of my mouth. That’s what girls do, not guys.”
Well holy heck! Don’t you think this little piece of information is something that should have been included in our 5th grade “Life Styles” pseudo-sex-ed that we all mortifyingly sat through? Personally, my years of dating could have been a lot less confusing with that little nugget. I sure as heck would have spent a lot less hours on the phone with my girlfriends trying to figure out what he really meant when he said, “You seem cool. I’ll call you.” It turns out, all he meant was that he thought I was cool and he’d call me. Really? Could it have been that simple all along? What an idiot I was, er, am! If boys are not going to shed light on this vital piece of information during the dating process, it should have at least been part of the marriage vows.
Now one would think that this gem would be enough to crack open the vault of hidden man mysteries and that marriage would now be a whole heck of a lot simpler, right? Well it turns out, this mystery goes even deeper. Since DH’s revelation I have discovered yet another key to the riddle that is men and relationships. Ready? Here it is: Not only are they simple; but men have very little foresight and even less hindsight. “It is what it is” truly is their modus operandi.
I think most wives, and especially those who had children with their husbands, can attest to this statement. While women painstakingly agonize over the simplest of decisions; men simply make a decision. I remember being at a BBQ once and watching a conversation between my friend and her husband. It was time to feed their 2 year old so the wife leaned over and asked her husband if she should give their son a hot dog. His response? Sure. She continued to mull over the decision a bit more before she responded with, “Should we give him the bun or just the hot dog?” At this point her husband looked confused and a bit scared. If I had access to his brain I’m sure the following thoughts were passing through, “Bun or no bun? Bun or no bun? Who gives a shit? I don’t know? Is this a trick question? Just give him some freakn’ food on his plate. What’s the big deal? Oh look! Beer!”
Now to this man (who is without a doubt, one of the best fathers I’ve seen) it was pretty obvious. The bun-no-bun decision was not life or death. It’s just food. There was no right or wrong answer. Just feed the kid and let’s enjoy ourselves. Am I right? I’m pretty sure I am.
But to a mom, nothing is that simple- partly because we are moms, but mostly because we are women. We have to think. About everything. We are over thinkers. We think too much. We’re all think-y. In a woman’s brain, the following conversation happens, “Crap, it’s time for Johnny to eat. Didn’t I just feed him? OK, what did he have for breakfast? Was it healthy? Uh, it was kind of healthy, kind of junky. I’m such a crappy mom. I’ll bet that mom over there made organic whole grain pancakes from scratch without syrup or butter or anything because her kid has been trained to eat healthy things whereas I’m a crappy mom and went with the whole-grain toaster waffle. And I put syrup on it. Mrs. Butterworth syrup, not even organic straight from the tree syrup. OK, kind of a healthy breakfast. Fruit for a snack this afternoon- go me! See? I’m not that bad. Now it’s meal time. Hot dog. Hot dog. God I love hot dogs. I shouldn’t eat them. They’ll make me fat. I wish I could just get these stupid 10 pounds off. I just don’t have time to go to the gym. I feel guilty. I suck. OK. meal time. I’ll give him a hot dog. One won’t kill him. Stop over thinking. Just go with the flow. Teach your kid to be flexible. Teach them a healthy relationship with food. Don’t over think it or he’ll turn into a freak who hordes food in his room because I never let him have anything. Then he’ll be fat and unhealthy and won’t make friends. Just give him the hot dog. It’s OK. Now, do I go with the bun? It’s a white bun not a wheat bun. Crap! Now what do I do? He already ate the dreaded toaster waffle. Do I let him have the evil white bread hot dog bun? What should I do?”
See? Women- we’re crazy. Men- they’re simple. Eat the ever-lovn’ hot dog with a bun. Without a bun. We are not negotiating for hostages. Shove some food in front of the kid. He’ll eat what he wants if he wants it. If not, he’ll live.
I wish I could be that simple… sometimes. I have to say, however, that, although this mental process is often refreshing, it is not always the best way to go through life. Case in point… when your wife is about to shove an entire Royal Velvet bath towel down your throat any moment? Start thinking, Buddy. Those are the moments when a little foresight might come in handy. You see, I’m finding after 11 years of marriage, that my husband has a bit of an obsession with towels. In fact, I am thinking of looking for some sort of outpatient program or a group that meets in the nearest Bed Bath and Beyond. Yeah, it’s that bad. You see, he feels the need to constantly grab a new towel from the linen cabinet whenever he comes out of the shower. Now I know that I am not the most “on the ball woman” when it comes to laundry. I tend to leave it in the wash a tad too long or I forget it in the dryer for a day (i.e. week) or so before I fold them or put them away. But I can honestly say that our towels are never stinky or mildew-y. So there is no reason why they need to be replaced every day or two.
However, my husband’s mind does not work this way. He does not realize that by grabbing a towel each day, he, in turn, creates a ridiculous amount of unnecessary laundry for me to do. Somehow it is lost on him that each of those towels arrived in the linen closet because I washed, dried, folded and put them there. There is not “fluff and fold fairy” doing the dirty work. In addition to this fact, he does not seem to be cognizant of the fact that we only have two towel bars in the bathroom. Two towel bars that each hold two towels, thereby allowing 4 towels to hang and dry at at time. So if he continually grabs a new towel after every shower, where does he plan to put them when he’s finished? Ah, you see the key word here is “plan.” He does, in fact, have no plan for these towels. So they end up in a wet lump on the bathroom floor. Or our bed. Or the carpet. Are you getting my drift here? So now the towel that was clean and fresh only moments ago has become a stinky mess because it has spent an undetermined amount of time in pile somewhere until I found it and tried without success to air it out; thereby creating more laundry and the need for a new towel at the next shower. It’s a vicious downward spiral of towel debauchery.
No foresight as to how the towels arrived in the linen cabinet in the first place. No foresight to realize that the towel bars are already full. No foresight to see that leaving them on the bed makes the bed wet and forces me to change the sheets unnecessarily. No hindsight to recall that the existing towels have only been used once.
No foresight. No hindsight. Just… sight. Do you remember in “Finding Nemo” when Dorri was swimming alongside Nemo’s dad singing “Keep on swimming, swimming, swimming”? Sometimes I think that if I could project the thoughts coming from DH’s brain I would hear “Towel, towel, towel, towel.” And that’s all. Just the word towel on a continuous loop. That’s until it’s time to get dressed. Then the narration would turn to “boxers, boxers, boxers, shirt, shirt, shirt, etc.”
So, based on my “extensive” research into the male psyche and my extremely large subject group (my dad, brother, husband, 2 sons and friends’ stories about their husbands) what have I learned? When I’m in an ugly mental decision-making cycle about completely stupid things and I just need someone to make the choice for me regardless of the consequences- I’ll call my husband. If my husband tells me that I’m being too sensitive? He simply means I’m being too sensitive. He doesn’t “really mean” he doesn’t like me. He doesn’t “actually think” I’m an emotional basket case in need of medication and exstensive therapy. He isn’t “trying to tell me” I’m insecure and weak. He means what he said- I’m being too sensitive. That way of thinking is rather refreshing and has saved me a whole lot of time delving deeper into his “underlying meanings.” It has also saved him from having to find a different way of saying the exact same thing because that’s really all he meant.
However, that same simple thought process will continue to create a mountain of unnecessary laundry, leave me sitting on the toilet with an empty roll of toilet paper staring me in the face, cause me to rinse his dishes and put them in the dishwasher after he’s blindly set them in the sink after dinner, etc. So I’ll just smile and do the laundry, drip dry in the bathroom and load the dishwasher; all the while remembering that he couldn’t help it. It’s not his fault. All he heard was “towel, towel, towel, wipe, wipe, wipe, sink, sink, sink.” Somehow his brain just doesn’t tell him about the follow through. I guess that’s what wives are for 😉
Men… no foresight, no hindsight, just… sight.
That’s just their normal.
P.S. For those of you worried about my DH’s feelings being hurt: *cough*mom*cough* DH has read this post and is not in the slightest bit offended. And he always means what he says, right?