Thursday, May 9, 2013

What's the Difference?

I once attended a lecture, given by what I would call a rather daring psychologist, on the topic of "The Difference Between Man and Woman".  It was held in a small auditorium, so he lectured from a stage.  Several feet to his left, on said stage, was a stand with a bust of a man on it, and to his right a stand with a bust of a woman.  To the best of my recollection, this is what he said.  He approached the bust of the man, and waved his hand over it once.  "This is a man's brain," he began.  "A man's brain is made up of many compartments.  There is a compartment for his kids, one for the Lakers, one for feelings of sadness because his dog died, one for mowing the lawn, etc.  When he's feeling amorous, he goes into the 'Making Love with My Wife' compartment...finding in there all that he needs to accomplish that task, then he exits that compartment when he's finished, and moves into the 'Time to go to Sleep' box.  All very simple."

Several unimpressed "mmmm-hmmmms" could be heard from the females in the audience, as we all pictured our man unhurriedly meandering from one compartment to another.

The doctor pressed on, walking from the male to the female bust.

"This," he continued, "is the brain of a woman."  He immediately began madly wiggling his fingers and moving his hands all over the woman's head.  "A woman's brain is not made of compartments," he explained.  "The female brain is completely interactive.  By this I mean each activity and thought is directly linked to many other activities and thoughts, responsibilties and data that are housed in one single compartment.  The connections are perpetually racing, an electrical current sending messages...they never stop...not even during sleep.  Shifting, buzzing...all...the...time!"

At this point the therapist gazed over the audience, seeking out the males in the crowd and then nodded at them sympathetically, with a wistful smile on his face.

He continued.  "I know the gentlemen are asking themselves, "Why, whatever creates such a hullabaloo?  Why all the commotion?"  The psychologist began to enunciate his words - "This robust power grid in a woman's brain is ignited by...EEE-MO-TION."

"Heeeeeee're's Johnny", I thought, hearing Jack Nicholson cackling in my head as I snickered under my breath.

You could hear a collective male moan waft through the audience, "Ohhhhhh".  Then silence.

Well, I thought, that about sums it up!  Most likely men are not equipped with a compartment labeled "Understanding Women", or if there is one, its content is constantly changing its mind or reinventing itself.  Just ask Billy Joel.  I was starting to feel sorry for the guys.  We ladies do tend to spew those EEE-MO-TIONS all over the damn place.

My sympathy boat, however, was about to run aground.  The mental health professional was not quite finished.  A question came from a woman in the audience.

"Well, doctor, my husband and I can be taking a quiet walk, or just lying on the beach and I'll get a little lonely or bored and say 'Whatcha' thinking, honey'?

"Ooooooooo," I muttered.  I'd lived those 100 miles of silence on the road.  "Whatcha thinkin' honey?' I mimicked in my head.  Every female in the place knew what was coming next.

"He always answers, 'Nothing'.  Now doctor, how can anybody be thinking about nothing?  That's impossible."

"Oh no," the doctor was quick to explain, "it's simple."  I watched all the women in the audience move forward on their seats, ready for the long-awaited big reveal for this primordial question.

"You remember all those compartments in a man's brain that he goes into?"

The woman nodded.

" of them is empty."  He said with a self-satisfied grin.

Suddenly I was reminded of a book my daughter told me about.  You know, the one about men being from one planet and women being from another, in which, the good author explains, men like to go to their 'cave' sometimes, and just hibernate there.  Brilliantly I surmised this must be the empty compartment to which our very male doctor referred.

We all sat back in our chairs.  We glanced at one another and nodded in unspoken agreement.  Verrrry interesting.

I believe they were contemplating the same thing I was.  How limiting it must be to have to function out of containers!  Sort of like living out of suitcases, which, in my humble opinion, is a real pain in the patoot primarily because it causes me to waste a lot of time looking for things wandering around distractedly scratching my.....BING!  A light came on as I pictured the pile of dirty sweats on the bedroom floor my husband steps over every day and the unfailingly blank expression I receive when I mention to my husband that Mother's Day is Sunday.  Of course, I concluded.  A guy couldn't possibly have a box in his head for everything in life.  Right?

I want to be a man's equal, but that does not mean I want to be like a man.  What I want is his damn cave.  My slap-happy electrically charged hormonal currents wear me out.  I think I need a rest.  I'd put a little easy chair in there, with a lamp and a little fridge for chilled wine.  Nice stack of bestsellers.  And a window overlooking San Simeon Beach.  Oops.  I digress.

No..I don't think I want to be like a man.  If I were like a man, my children would have to become accustomed to me not really knowing what their exact birthdates are.  I'd be focused on protecting my crotch all the time and wouldn't have emotional energy required to empathize with Mary from Downton Abbey.  Some neighbor would come to the house and ask me to help fix his leaky toilet, and I'd have to give up my time sniffing my new grandbaby's neck.  I'd find myself scratching the itch in my git-a-long in public, experiencing absolutely no sense of social decorum because the door to my embarrassment container would be sealed tightly shut.

Well, I have to say our good doctor's revelations were really no surprise to me.  Men and women are definitely different, make no mistake.  If we weren't it would take my husband more than three minutes to shop for, clean up for and dress for a formal occasion.  He be at Gina's spa lying on her table allowing her to apply caustic substances to his face so that it would peel away.  And he wouldn't ask me to trim his eyebrows every six months, he pay someone to apply hot parafin to his skin and rip them off.

If men and women were the same, I'd have to climb out my bedroom window and balance precariously on my roof to wash the outside of the window.  I'd have to fish out the gaggy hair from the clogged bathtub drain.  I'd have to be the outside spoon when we snuggled in bed, freezing my ass off.  Nah.

I'll settle for grabbing a moment to read between peeling potatoes, re-patching my granddaughter's 12 year old baby blanket, clipping my mother's toenails, inventing new gluten-free recipes for my man, taking responsibility for picking eye boogers off the dog, and doing the Christmas shopping for every member of our extended family.  Oh, and having my boobs run over by a steam roller by my mammogram tech.

My grandson was here today.  He's exhibiting some signs.  I believe he was firmly entrenched in his homework compartment.  He was hungry and I had one hard-boiled egg left in the refrigerator.  I came into the kitchen and found its shell in the wrong side of the sink.  Smiling, I cleaned it out and threw it into the garbage disposal on the other side.  I looked around for the bowl it had been in and didn't see it.  Knowingly, I peeked in the fridge.  There it sat on my shelf.  Empty.

When his mother came to pick him up, I told her this little story.  Her eyes welled with tears and she hugged her son close saying, " little boy is becoming a man."  She reached for the salt shaker left by his notebook and lovingly put it back where it belonged in the kitchen.