This is going to sound like a conversation between Jerry Seinfeld and his buddy, George, while sitting in their favorite booth at Tom’s Restaurant; but sometimes you just have to get something off your mind, and the best way to do that is to talk (or write) about it, even if it does mean a week of isolated incarceration in the travel trailer. So here goes.
Have you ever noticed how women can strike up a conversation with other women in almost any setting? A few years ago my wife changed hairdressers simply because she asked a lady in line at the bureau of motor vehicles who did her hair. In the three minutes they spent together I think they also shared pictures of their grandchildren and talked about getting together for lunch sometime.
Can you imagine a couple of guys doing this? I can just hear myself saying to the guy in front of me at the BMV, “Hey, I really like your haircut. If you don’t mind my asking, who’s your barber?”
I can tell you for a fact, this would never happen. Guys might exchange cryptic comments about how slow the line is moving, but saying anything more than this would be about as likely as discovering that the man in the moon is actually a woman.
It’s true, women think nothing of striking up a casual conversation with each other anytime, anywhere, about anything; and it doesn’t matter whether they’re in line at the grocery store, trying on shoes, or even in a public restroom.
There is a reason why, when a woman excuses herself from the table in a restaurant to go to the restroom, at least one other woman at the table will say, “Wait, I’ll go with you.” Two women going to the restroom together isn’t about taking care of business, it’s a social affair. Even when meeting a stranger in a public restroom, a woman won’t hesitate (so I’m told) to strike up a conversation. “Oh, I love that shade of lipstick. What is it called? Where did you buy it…and so on.”
Not so with men. First of all, two men would never deliberately go to the restroom together. That’s because their reason for going is to take care of business, not to chitchat with a buddy. And, as for a conversations between two men in a public restroom who don’t know each other…well, let me just say the only noises you will hear in a men’s restroom are the sound of a urinal flushing, the roar of the hand dryer motor, or possibly a grunting noise coming from behind a stall door.
Men do sometimes talk to each other in public places, but these places must be very public, like a park bench outside a gift shop in Gatlinburg. And when these conversations do occur they are always about important stuff, like cars, football, or the weather.
Such conversations usually go something like this. Without making eye contact and as if talking to no one in particular, one guy will say, “Sure is hot today.” And the second guy will nonchalantly respond, “Yeah, sure is.” Then the second guy will say, “Quite a game last night, huh?” And the first guy will respond, “Yeah, sure was.” And that is about as far as the conversation will go. Neither guy will feel compelled to share pictures of his grandchildren with the other, let alone tell his life story. Meanwhile, their wives will come out of the store together chitchatting like lifelong friends and making plans for where the four of them will go for dinner that evening.
I think these differences between men and women have something to do with feelings – mostly that women have lots of feelings and need (or like) to express them, while men, basically, have no feelings, and even if they did they wouldn’t need or want to express them.
This explains why I don’t feel a bit badly about spending a week in the travel trailer for writing this column. And besides, I know in a few days she will feel badly about sending me to the travel trailer and will want me to come back into the house to talk about her feelings.
George Brown is a freelance writer. He and his wife, Yvonne, live in Jackson Township.