more men and women

February 19, 2001

Today, my producer here on the other side of the studio window and our main afternoon music man with the mellowest voice this side of James Earl Jones, Rich Ball, requested that I talk about one of his favorite subjects: men and women.

Understanding between men and women is often messed up because ultimately, each just has really screwy expectations of each other. Actually, I think women are really to blame here.

Gals, if you would just accept one simple fact and base your expectations on that, you would be a lot happier. This simple fact is that men are dense; we just don’t get it, and we probably never will. If you would just expect us to behave like teenage chimpanzees most of the time (which we do anyway), you would suffer a lot less disappointment.

Rich Ball is now jumping up and down on his chair, screeching and getting off on all the lights on the ol’ console. Calm down and have a banana, guy.

Recently, a highly regarded scientific report came out stating that based on years of research, women by nature are more capable of multi-tasking than men. Multi-tasking means doing or thinking about more than one thing at the same time. Men are just not good at multi-tasking, which should come as a surprise to nobody.

Women can, with equal effectiveness, think about or do several things at once, which as a rule, men can only think about one thing at a time. Another way of looking at it is that women can juggle many balls, while a guy can only juggle one — which is probably why guys like women so much. Think of hungry chipmunks and you’ll get the picture.

I’ll give you an example of how this difference in multi-tasking plays out: you know how us guys get lost when we’re driving? If there’s a woman with us, she will say we should stop and ask for help. But more often than not, the guy would rather die than do that.

He says, “Honey, I’m not lost — I just don’t know where we are,” which is just another way of saying, “I don’t need help.” Now previously, we thought guys just did this out of an ego thing, but this new theory suggests something else. When the woman suggests to the guy that they get help or just stop and read the map, she is asking the guy to multi-task, as in think and drive. At the same time.

That’s just too much, ladies. Because it’s too much, us guys just stick to doing the one thing that we can do, which is continue to drive.

To get around this issue, ladies, the next time you are lost and he is driving (which is probably why you are lost in the first place), just turn to him and say in a loud voice, “Stop the car!” He may ask why, but don’t tell him because he’ll just get confused. Just repeat, “Stop the car!” Now, you are asking him to do one thing only: drive the car to a stop. We can do that.

The only danger here is that your man will stop the car so suddenly, it’ll put you through the windshield. That scenario will then present your man with a number of different problems — none of which he may be able to deal with, because again: he can only do one thing at one time.

Come to think of it, ladies: you should do the driving. It’ll lessen your frustration in the end.

Guys, it’s important to understand that women just see the world differently than we do. They have a compulsion to make the irrational, rational — but in a completely irrational manner. This confuses the hell out of us dudes.

I’ll give you an example. My mother grew up in Manhattan, and my old man grew up in Brooklyn. One day, a long time ago, me, my old man, and my brother were at home, contentedly doing just one thing as men are wont to do, when my mother walked in really angry.

Now, Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan may be the largest one-way street in the world. It turns out that my mother got a ticket for going the wrong way down the largest one-way street in the world. She was in a dither, carrying on about how unfair it was that this cop gave her a ticket. So my old man said, “Well, you were going the wrong way down the biggest one-way street in the world.”

And my mother said, “Well, the policeman should have known that I knew I was going the wrong way. I’m from Manhattan, he could see that on my driver’s license.”

And my old man, being a single-tasking guy, said, “Huh?”

And my old lady said, “Well, I knew it was Amsterdam Avenue and I told the policeman that, and he still gave me a ticket!”

My father, still confused by this exercise in logic, responded with “Huh!?!?!?”

My mother tried to explain by saying, “Since I knew I was driving the wrong way down the biggest one-way street in the world, I did not deserve a ticket.”

Me and my brother, being more intellectual than my father, just gave up and agreed with her. But poor old dad never did get it.

Now, here’s some advice for you guys. Do you notice how women tend to criticize us with questions and the questions always begin with the words “Why,” “What,” and especially “How?”

Say you take your clothes off at night and just drop them on the floor and she says “What are you doing?” Dudes, this ain’t a question. She is really saying: “Hey you clod brain, put your clothes in the hamper!”

You might try to convey that you are simply dropping these dirty clothes on the floor because you are just going to wake up and put them on again. At this point, she does it again, this time with the “How” question, as in: “How can you wear those filthy things again?” What she really is saying is “You disgust me.”

But, of course, being a guy you don’t hear these questions for what they really are; you just respond literally to them, by explaining to her, “Well honey, first I put on my pants, then my socks and then my shirt.”

By answering this way, you’ll probably spend the rest of the night asking a “Why?” question, as in “Why am I sleeping on the couch tonight?”

And if you are dumb enough to ask her why you are sleeping on the couch, she’ll do it again. This time, it’s “After what you said to me, how can you ask such a question?” Not knowing the answer, you can just climb back on that ol’ couch.

Relationships are about communicating and understanding not only what is being communicated but why. To help with this, I recommend a wonderfully helpful book entitled You Just Don’t Listen, by Deborah Tannen. I learned a lot from it.

One of the things Tannen points out is that men and women talk for different reasons. This will be really helpful for you dudes out there who find yourself constantly asking yourself, “What in God’s name is she talking about, and why does she think I care?” She doesn’t, Jack. See, men talk for utilitarian reasons, to get things done. Here’s a typical male two-minute phone call:

“How’s it going?”

“Good, how’s it going with you?”

“Good. Did you catch the Giants game this weekend?”

“Yeah, they sucked.”

“Nice talking to you.”

*Click*

Women, on the other hand, talk as a means of establishing and sustaining relationships. The content has nothing to do with it, it is the process of talking that they enjoy and is important to them.

So just remember this, guys. When you’re driving and lost — do what the gals tell you to: “Stop the car!” And gals, when you’re talking and your guy is rolling his eyes, just remember that too much information may just overload him.

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