COLUMNIST: Sometimes things don't make sense
"I know you don't ignore me on purpose," said the woman in my life the other day. This of course begs the question of a couple of things: First, please don't feed me home run lines like that one, because I might bust a gut swinging for the left field fence and answering that statement with: "Well, then, why do I ignore you?"
Of course, since suicide by tongue lashing this early in the new year isn't high on the list of ways I want to die, I don't answer that way. Instead, I go to my well of intellectual plenty, sort through several answers that I might use, get a blank look on my face while I'm doing all this, and come back to earth barely in time to chuckle sympathetically at her.
Sometimes I don't in fact make it back from answer land in time to even chuckle sympathetically. A lot of men are like that, I suspect. In fact, there are very few males who don't realize in this enlightened age that a woman making a statement like the one above in fact wants "to talk," and is liable, if the male doesn't immediately go change the oil in the car or lubricate a sticking door, to follow this statement up with "we never talk anymore."
"No, of course we don't. You're so right about that. I've got this idea: Let's talk about the car, which seems to be making a noise that isn't good."
But no male would say that. I just made it up in my mind, while I was in there searching around for something a woman would maybe want to talk about. It's pretty much an empty cavern in there. I have yet to find something "to talk about." Nothing. Nada. No reply.
Men don't ignore women. That's not in fact why we don't talk to them. Mostly, we don't talk to them because most of the things that happen in our lives aren't really all that important. To us men, that is.
For example, I heard about this conversation. Husband comes home. Wife, wanting to be part of this weird twosome that nature and society has designed for the procreation of the species, asks: "How'd your day go?"
"Oh, I went and saw Willie. We went fishing." Intuitively sensing that this isn't enough to satisfy her, he goes deep into his reserves of experience and adds: "I didn't catch anything."
Later on, a telephone from Willie's girlfriend produces the great news (to her) that she and Willie are getting married, and she turns to her husband with a great amount of disbelief: "And you didn't think that was important?!?"
Well, no, obviously he didn't think it was important. Attempting to train a male in what is and what isn't important is closely akin to beating a dead horse to get him to go. He didn't catch any fish, a fact that reflects directly on his masculine abilities in several ways, one of which is that, as he sees it, he failed to catch any fish; another is that, maybe Willie caught more fish than he did. Even though we're pretty dumb about this stuff, and even though we cannot quite come up with the stuff women want to hear about, we do understand that they don't want to hear much about the fish we didn't catch. We may not know what they do want to hear about, and may never know, but we've got a pretty good instinct about what it is they don't really want. For lack of anything else, sometimes we give it to them anyway.
In fact, very few men know exactly what it is that women want to hear about, and most women in fact cannot understand why men find it so difficult to figure this stuff out. It isn't like they don't give us enough opportunities; it's just that we mostly miss them when they come.
One of the many books which I've read and studied claim that mostly the problem is that men want to range free and women want to be connected. For a man, this means calling home and letting her know that you're going to be late. To the woman, this feels like the involvement in the relationship that she's yearning for. (According to the books, anyway. I'm kind of like a parrot mouthing phonetic sounds, here.)
To the man, it feels like he's not his own boss. To the other men, should they discover that he called home, it would seem to him that it would seem to them that he had to call home, which translates to a feeling of loss of freedom.
So, men, there you have it. Work on this, will you? Let me know how it comes out. And don't forget--call home.