Posts from the ‘Men and Women’ Category

Bubble wrap and the Bogeyman….

Need more bubble wrap....

Need more bubble wrap….

I recently read an article in the Globe and Mail by Stephen Quinn.

In his blog, he recounts the adventures of his two lads as they try to make their way home via public transport from downtown Vancouver – with minimal help from  dad. The short piece has its funny bits – sometimes  “funny ha-ha”, but sometimes more  “funny-peculiar” –  like how the two boys were slightly perplexed and seemingly naïve to the perils around them. Well according to the author anyway; his lads seemed confused about the perils as assessed by a worldly man standing 5’11” . The world is probably a lot rosier when you are well protected boys standing only 4 foot plus…

The article took me back in time. No worries, I never  “abandoned” my kids downtown with only bus fare, phone money and a Hot Rod pepperoni stick each. But rather, I remember being a kid in Toronto at a time when parental overwatch was minimal.

Oh the things we did! Before grade six, I remember walking to soccer tournaments during the summer holidays, leaving the house at 7.30 am, walking what seemed a hundred miles to Riverdale Park at Broadview. Funnily enough, I “Google-Mapped” it a little while ago (I think that is a verb); surprisingly, it was really a simple walk through the side streets of the Danforth, across Greenwood then Pape and finally to Broadview – but each walk had Stand By Me proportions. A simpler time, each day Mom would pack me a ham sandwich, an apple and a can of RC cola – and if I was really lucky, a two-pack of Dad’s Brand oatmeal cookies.  That and a hug on the way out the door was all the motherly attention I needed. Heaven!  And at Riverdale Park,  I played soccer all day – no worries of sunscreen, no bottles of water, no sun hat – and ran around crazily all day. I would get home about 10 hours later – dirty, banged up and really happy –  just in time to hear my Dad’s favorite greeting as he walked in the door from work, “…’Jinder, what’s for eating?”

Streetcars on Queen Street c 1970

Streetcars on Queen Street c 1970

Donwtown Toronto 1975...I have no clue who is in the middle of the road....

Downtown Toronto 1975…I have no clue who is in the middle of the road….

I also remember as the oldest child of three – and at the ripe old age of 12 years – leading my brother and sister (aged 10 and 8), right into the heart of Gotham, to Dundas and Yonge. We would see Black Beauty or the Shaggy D.A. or Star Wars at the Old Imperial Six theatre. It was great! And how many times did we jump on the subway or the bus or the streetcar to head to Ontario Place or the Ex’, or Maple Leaf

The Imperial Six....

The Imperial Six….

Gardens or the Royal Ontario Museum, or the Planetarium, or the Science Centre (which even today is not a TTC-friendly destination…)? A kids’ adventure…

And where were my parents during all this?  At home or at work – who knows?  I didn’t care; I had a dime for a phone call – there were lots of phone booths around.  Who needed a smart phone or a GPS or a child tracker? Not us…

I remember those days – we all reminisce about sitting untethered in the back of the station wagon, people smoking everywhere, when biking or skating without a helmet was okay. Parenting today is so different; so many things that we do and things that we buy to keep them safe. Comparatively, we lived a relative Darwinian existence.

I remember being doing things on my own: buying stuff, and making change and generally being aware of things when they just did not feel right. I remember looking both ways and crossing with the green, and reading a map and asking for directions from complete strangers. I never felt threatened nor scared.

But I can’t ever remember letting my kids do that. Why not? Is it because I felt that the world was not a safe place, that the risks were too high? Probably.  And by not letting them, did I do really do them a favour?

Everyone knows that parenting has changed. Even the big corporations. I mean, look at the Chevy car ad…the parents fawning  over their poor lad Tonito!  Okay, what is that all about? That kid is gonna be scarred and look to Mommy and Daddy for everything. He will never learn the life lesson of forgetting your indoor shoes in the winter, or why idiot strings on mittens aren’t such a bad idea or the thrill of swimming to the far side of the pool without water wings and with that slightly terrifying panic of “I’m gonna drown…” – of realising that yes, yes he can do it on his own without mom or dad holding him up – or back.

Lucas the Forever Scarred... See the vid at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IZDzlZXNG4

Tonito, the Forever Scarred… See the vid at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IZDzlZXNG4

So why are we so different from our parents? I know – the world has changed… rapists and molesters, murderers and abusers, drug pushers and pimps and slave traders all abound in droves now. But sadly, statistically speaking – and counter intuitively – our kids are probably in more peril being with those in positions of trust than with complete strangers. But still,  I had the same fears as all parents, and I had to fight the urge to be over-protective. Hopefully I kept it in check to some degree – the scar on my daughter’s forehead is testimony to that.

But I am sure that, like all of my generation, I have imparted some of my anxieties and tics to my children. It’ll be interesting to see what their parenting style is like!

I think about what my parents did, or really, didn’t do. They never drove me anywhere unless they were going there too – I walked, rode my bike or took public transit. They rarely gave me money – I delivered papers, had summer jobs or did chores for money.  Don’t get me wrong.  I never wanted for anything. I had clean clothes (not necessarily the most fashionable). I had good food…though it took me until my 20s to realise that curry was something special. I had birthdays and presents and video games – Pong and Intellivision –  and the ever-present music.

But somewhere between my growing up and becoming a parent, I began to think that was not enough for my kids. I did not want my children to want for anything, or to get hurt or to be sad or tired or hungry or anxious. But in retrospect, I could have done better.  I now believe that independence and challenges are the very best teachers; a fishing pole instead of a fish.   As I look around, I am not sure that coddling or bubble-wrapping kids is working. Failure and rejection and disapproval are pretty good teachers, too.

I am who I am because Mom and Dad let me explore and experience and take risks and the occasional scolding.

Yes, my kids are confident and happy (I think). And they are independent: one living on her own and having spent a good chunk of last summer backpacking through Europe with friends, and the other just about to head off to residence and uni. Not bad, and even though they still do love Dad’s taxi and the occasional help from  Dad’s bank account, who wouldn’t!

But, thinking back, I wish I had released the reins a bit more. Think of all the other places they could have gone and the adventures they could have had.  And you know what, I am sure that if you giv’em a little age appropriate latitude as they grow, they will probably find out where the real bogeymen are all by themselves…

Later,

ASF

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Aaahhh…patchouli, incense, and pan flutes…

I need another massage. For those in the gutter, stop smirking.  I do not mean the flashing neon light, happy-ending kind of “massage” that some might pay dearly for. All I can say of those, to quote Sgt Schultz, is  – “I know nothing…”.  What I am blogging about is a therapeutic, deep-tissue massage…a good, but painful treatment delivered in a candle-lit a room that smells of sandalwood and lemon-grass and lavender, with soft mellow, soul-healing music playing in the background.  Sadly, my last one was over two weeks ago…

Now, please do not imagine that I have always taken a massage regularly. Truthfully, I have never really been the kind of guy to pamper myself.  Pampering usually meant an extra pint at Happy Hour, or using the ottoman (that is a foot stool, tuffet, hassock or pouffe, for you non-Canadianswhile watching a major sporting event on the big screen, or springing for the full-size Bucket instead of the 9-piece meal. Back then, for me the word “pampering” brought up images of extravagance, frivolity, femininity.  And because many guys are from the “Real men do not eat Quiche” school of thought (like I was), they think that any guy who likes massages should start carrying a satchel and wearing a purple scarf (sorry – a bit of a poke at my FB friends :)

Way back in my youth (by that I mean 2007 and before), I guess I was a “quiche-hater” too (an analogy only…I like “egg and bacon” pie).  Like most guys, my bar of soap served as body cleanser, hair shampoo and shaving cream. Lotion was a lubricant…and only came in those little bottles you stole from the hotel room.  And all my laundry was a nice uniform hue of pinky-grey.

Exfoliation, marjoram, conditioner, scented candles, nail file…not in my vocabulary.  Suicide chicken wings, armpit farts, rugby, torque wrenches, happy hour …now you’re talking my language.

But then I changed.  Maybe I realised that I did not give a hoot that some guys think that pink shirts are for women only.  I like pink shirts….a very attractive woman once told me they complement my skin tone – and that was good enough for me.  And also, maybe I discovered that my skin hurt most of the time because it needed some moisturizer.  I then realised that maybe, just maybe, you can pamper yourself while maintaining your cojones.

Mind you, the transition was not easy. In the late 90s during a tour in Bosnia, I had tried a massage once during leave in Budapest…but it was an old-school, barely post-communist era, rub-down in a room with all the warmth of a tiled operating theatre.  I was unclothed and feeling vulnerable – and though the skilled mature masseur managed to convert tense, knotted muscles into limp pasta – I was not comfortable with the “intimacy” of being manipulated by a sweaty middle-aged Hungarian man.  Seriously, the only people to touch me like that before were the Numbers 4, 5 and 8 in the Scrum – and my wife.  I would have preferred Ross and the wooden spoons.  And since I was afraid, to quote George Costanza, of “embarrassing movement” in similar circumstances in the future,  I gave up on the massages.

But, the turning point came after a New Brunswick half-marathon – this one marked by a wee lack of training, and some serious drinking the night before.  Post-joggle, I was sore…very sore – in body and mind.  So I went for a massage.  And it was not one of those analgesic/liniment/chinese tiger balm torture sessions you get from the team physio after the mandatory 15-minute soak in the ice-filled tub.  Nope…it was a pan flute-fuelled soothing, calm session in a candle-lit room that smelled of incense and patchouli.  Oh Em Gee!  What a difference!  The rub down was fantastic.  The heated, scented oil applied expertly by a skilled massage therapist was unbelievable.  Tension and pain bled way with each pass.  By the end of the hour-long full body massage, I was boneless; a large lump of formless flesh on a massage table lying in a puddle of sleep drool – I was not sure of the time, the day, or the year.  I do not think I could even remember my name – and even if I could, I did not have the motor coordination to say it without sounding like I had been to the dentist.   There was no hurt, no stiffness…and almost no consciousness. After this surreal experience, I was hooked.

And so, with that resonating in my mind, and some coaxing from my wife, I then dipped a toe into the world of pampering.  Not figuratively, but literally – I mean that I tried a pedicure.

Now, I have given a foot rub once or twice before – sometimes willingly, sometimes grudgingly, but always clumsily – and even with my crude technique, I have listened to the “oohs and aahs” the effort has generated.

Toung the feet…a sign of respect to an elder…called upasangrahan

But I never understood the allure. Maybe because, in an East Indian way, I am uncomfortable with someone touching my feet. (In India, touching the feet is how you show respect to someone (usually older); so having someone touch my feet seemed a tad elitist.)  But looking at the complete expression of ecstasy on my wife’s face during a foot rub, I gave in.  And then the light turned on.  I got it.  A warm water wash, the soothing kneading touch with a revitalising, minty balm on the arches, the heels, the toes, and the balls (…of my feet, filth-mongers, of my feet), and I suddenly realised that I had fallen down the rabbit hole.  My feet had dragged me into the abyss – head first.

And it got me thinking, why is it that men don’t do that sort of thing as a matter of course?  Why are massages and manicures and pedicures and hot stones and reflexology, all considered to be too feminine? All un-manly things unbefitting a manly-man? I mean, really, no one sex should have a monopoly on feeling good – it should be a unisex sort of thing.  Why shouldn’t men stand up for equal rights and have massages and pedicures.  They are awesome.

Now the heresy.  So I suggest that maybe it is time to shed the tough guy image, and think about experiencing those products and services and treatments that can take care of your skin and soul and stuff.  Lads…I think I can read your minds, “Clint never would have used those kind of products.” Maybe…but seriously, have you looked at his face recently?  Maybe he should have.  (And honestly, I am sure he has had more than his fair share of shiatsu…and he probably asked for Chuck Norris’s personal masseuse.)

So while many of you may not be quite ready to put your wallet and Kleenex and cell phone and iPod and Bosch Headphones and pen and notebook and kindle and newspaper and chewing gum and eye drops in a Satchel as you walk around town, maybe you will sign up for a full body massage. Go with your wife, or your girlfriend (but if you are a Player, don’t try to take both at the same time).

To quote Morpheus, “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”  Trust me.  Take the red pill and go for the massage.

Enjoy another kind of happy ending!

Later,

ASF

Every day is Valentine’s Day…or 14 February, “Bah, Humbug!”

February, yuck!  Christmas is but a faint memory, the Groundhog has seen his shadow, and the Northern hemisphere can look forward to a couple more weeks of shivering and cursing.  Now if that wasn’t bad enough, you can chuck February 14th into the mix. And if you are male, that means the dreaded recurrence of the annual St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Now, while Bugsy Moran’s boys were shot down in cold blood, at least they only suffered one Massacre.  We men, however, suffer through mass media’s idea of love, complete with all the guilt and tension that surrounds it.  Flowers, jewellery, dinner, perfume, lingerie…what do I do, what does she want? How do I show how much she means to me? I can hear the wails of male angst as I write.

And why? Just why, oh why, is it like that?

Now unless you are one of those annoying pricks of a male (you know the kind who rents a white Arabian charger and a full suit of armour to propose kind-of guy, the bastard who just ups the ante to unattainable limits for us normal guys) Valentine’s Day is nothing but a pressure cooker.  Implicitly, subliminally, covertly it is a sad truth that it is the man’s job to be the Romantic one. It’s his job to make the plans, book the venue, and make it a memorable 14 February (or the Saturday before or after, as schedules permit, and when payday happens to fall.)

And what a challenge it is…I mean what is romantic to him, may not be so romantic for her.  Valentine’s Day octagon-side seats to a UFC match? Nope.  Chicken wings and an NHL game on the pub’s big screen?  Doubt it.  A bottle of wine and Caligula? Dreaming…  None of those will cut it.  It is better to play it safe and break out the flowers and Under the Tuscan Sun or Chocolat

But really, what is Valentine’s Day? More importantly, what is expected? A casual question usually yields, a “Surprise me” or a “Something romantic”.   Not helpful.  And what do people think about the day?  A quick check of the Urban Dictionary shows that it is not all that popular – a day of sadness, anger, unfulfilled expectations. Probably not quite what Hallmark and Hershey’s had in mind, I’d guess.  (By the way, don’t get distracted by UD, it can trap you in its sticky, hilariously profane web…and what is seen (or read) can ever be unseen or unread…trust me).

Other sources say Valentine’s Day traces its roots to an ancient pagan holiday called Lupercalia.   Apparently on this day, men stripped naked, grabbed whips, and spanked young women in hopes of increasing female fertility. Now that’s romantic, isn’t it? I wonder when that tradition ended…“Armageddon, Armageddon…”

And who, exactly, is this poster child for those hopelessly in love, this Saint Valentine fellow?  Evidently, he was a martyr; he is the patron Saint of beekeepers, travellers, young people… and believe it or not…epilepsy and plague. How much more loving can you get than that?  Story goes that he married young Romans in secret, disobeying the Emperor’s edicts (evidently fighting age Roman men were more interested in getting laid than fighting wars for The Man – I guess it was a type of pre-Christ hippy movement).  And St V’s reward for the loving spoonful…a beheading. (Maybe that’s why men think with the little one…) Ironically, the figurative beheading still seems to be a tradition that exists today – ask any man who does not recognise Valentine’s Day appropriately.

And what about all those other icons…like Cupid. Now there’s the epitome of Valentine’s Day romance.  But really, he is nothing more than a mythical, chubby, diapered boy-man who shoots arrows at people, changing them into human versions of Pepé Le Pew; They lose all inhibitions and become uncomfortably amorous. Could you imagine that today? A semi-naked, diaper-clad little man, flitting along putting Spanish Fly and Flunitrazepam in random people’s drinks?  Very creepy, indeed…

If I haven’t made it clear already, I am a Valentine’s Day Scrooge…” It’s all HUMBUG, I tell you, HUMBUG!”  Do not confuse my “humbug d’amour” as being a “love curmudgeon”.  True, I have not rented a metal codpiece or greaves to impress my fair lady; but, I do love her and I am not afraid to tell her so, often, and when I want.  I object to the very idea that there is a specific day on which someone is mandated to show their love for their spouse or partner.  I love my wife everyday – all equally. I do not love her more on 14 February and less on other days.  Nobody who is in love does that.  And by saying that there is one day that is a must, people are excused from demonstrating their love on those other 364 (and 365 in 2012.)

I don’t need to be chastised or cajoled by the florists or the chocolatiers or the card-makers or jewellers or perfumers that it is time to buy gifts or I am a miserable excuse of an amour. I am sure that such gifts would be just as appreciated on 11 May, or 16 September or other random date.  I bet they would be even more appreciated, because a surprise gift would come truly from the heart – not from a contrived sense of guilt created by commercial advertising.

Yet the expectation may be huge. If mass media’s guilt trip is too overwhelming, resist – do not yield to the siren call of big business.  Give a gift, but go back to your roots…a home-made card using Elmer’s glue, a doily and red construction paper… a handwritten note recalling one of your most memorable moments together…anything that makes you think of how much you love him or her.   I’d guess you can’t go wrong; it is a safe bet to spend the time, rather than the money.

And that is because real love is not in the gifts; it is about the committment. Like what is in these stories

So, Valentine’s day…I say HUMBUG. Like any other day of the year, I will tell my wife that I love her – probably more than once – and I will remind her that 14 February is just a signal that there are only 54 days until the Easter Bunny arrives…

And that’s that.  Sorry to run, but I have to go and check out the on-line florists…see you later!

ASF

Where did my “Dancin’ Fool” go? Oh there he is…

I was watching CNN yesterday and saw that Don Cornelius died.  Perhaps some of you remember him – especially those of you were born before Stevie Wonder released “Sir Duke.  Mr. Cornelius, if you do not know, was the creator, founder and host of Soul Train – one of the epic early music shows on TV.

Now, I could go on many tangents writing about Soul Train. I could write about the empowerment of the Afro-American community. Or maybe the influence it had on Quincy Jones, Spike Lee and other black producers and directors. But I am too late. Yesterday, CNN covered all that in a stereotypical two minute feature, repeated 6 times an hour.

Instead, I will write about what Soul Train meant to me.  Soul Train was about boogie and moving & grooving.  I will blog about dancing – because when Soul Train was hot, it made all of us into Dancin’ Fools.

Soul Train was just one of many dance shows that influenced a whole generation and provided the “funky” moves we only dreamed of using during the school gym dances.  The brave and hip souls who exposed themselves on the Soul Train Dance Line were the ancient forefathers and mothers of the “So-You –Think-You-Can-Dance” Crowd.  If you cannot grasp the sheer quirkiness of the period’s boogie fever, pre-hip hop dance moves, and fantastic fashions, have a gander of just what Soul Train brought to the table and prepare to groove along to these highlights.

Yes, I can imagine the youngsters giggling through all of that.  Funnily enough, Soul Train was not the first dance show I remember. The grandpappy of all the shows, with the host who signed the deal with the Devil for eternal youth, was American Bandstand. For 30+ years, Dick Clarke did not age one friggin’ day as he hosted a variety of American Icons and the happening teenagers of the day.  But while Soul Train allowed all those who thought they had the stuff to strut it, American Bandstand was more like the mosh pit as the Alpha Dancers tried hard to get just a few seconds of screen time.  And that was the major difference between the ‘Train and the ‘Stand? (Yep, that was the hip lingo back then…and I still got it!)  If you wanted to stick out on American Bandstand, you had to do something really special

Soul Train and Bandstand provided the moves that helped me through school dances. Confidently, I was doing the “left foot, right foot” shuffle to “Kung Fu Fighting” in Grade 4, bumping to “Le Freak, C’est Chic” in Grade 9, or doing the Carleton Banks to “We got the Beat” in Grade 12.  For most of us, the TV dance moves were all we needed to get the other side of the gym begging us to dance with them. Yeah, right…

Inevitably as I grew older, dance shows served another purpose.  Now, for anyone born after 1990, imagine a time before the internet and free porn; imagine an innocent time when the Friday night  Baby Blue movies were the talk of the school lunchroom on Mondays, and when the images of the “20 Minute Workout” helped us master our domains.  And the dance show’s contribution? Yes…the Solid Gold Dancer. My goodness, did someone turn up the heat…

But sadly, there came a time when all the old chestnuts lost their allure.  The music became too mainstream and the dancers in the crowd, well, they were just like me – only nerdier.  I needed something more modern, more “with it”.  And who filled the void…Much Music and its hyper-hip Electric Circus.   Live from City TV studios in the cultural centre of Canada (you guessed it – John Street!) Electric Circus was “poser” Canada at its best…hosted by the chic Monika Deol and her vox basso. I mean, who didn’t want to be – or do – an Electric Circus Dancer? (For the record, that is not sexist. The dancers were both male and female…so people of all five sexual orientations could fantasize about them. How much more inclusively-Canadian can you get than that?)

But like always, the lights in the club eventually turn on – long after last call has passed. You suddenly realise that all that grown-up stuff – marriage, kids, work – has conspired against you and the dancing stopped without you even noticing. No more dance shows with their hip moves. Forget the funk. Forget the Boogie. Dancing – if you still did it – consisted of sweating to the Let’s Twist Again Medley, the Bird Dance or La Macarena at weddings.

But while I did not watch anymore dance shows, I still tried to find the opportunity to try out the moves that I saw during the occasional TV-surfing moments. On New Year’s Eve1999, I nearly suffered a cardiac arrest as I emulated the  Torrance Community Dance Group during an impromptu 4 minute dance solo on an empty floor.  There wasn’t one single Soul Train dance move during that set.  I realised after that unintentional aerobics class, that maybe I was getting old. That maybe I should put away the Billy Idol arm thrashing, the MC Hammer moves, and the Fresh Prince’s Running Man.

But as dance has been there pretty much for all of my life, I heard the advice, but I didn’t really listen to it. And so, dancing has made the occasional appearance during my grown up life (usually in the company of several drinks and the unmistakable beat of the 70s and 80s hits). When that happens, I am bopping because my pelvis and knees have loosened up through the liberal application of a few cocktails.  During these happy times, I still believe that I am just as good as the kids who shimmied along Don Cornelius’s Dance Line – even if I do have an overbite.

Keep dancing!  Later,

ASF

PS.  Interpretive dance…gotta love that too. One of my favourites!

A Babel Fish Primer for Venusians and Martians…or WTF just happened?

I was creeping a friend’s Facebook page today when I happened on to her link to “Shit Guys Don’t Say”.  The clip was funny and made me laugh – particularly because it is so true.  So, in a predictable and perhaps juvenile way, I had to search for a reply to even the score in The Battle of the Sexes.  I found it with “Shit Girls Don’t Say” – again equally funny.  The satire underlined a simple fact – men and women say the same things differently.

So, as idle hands are the Devil’s workshop and it is Saturday  and I rent instead of owning – I thought I would take a daring foray into the Yin and the Yang.  Now before I start, the disclaimer: I am not a licenced practitioner of anything and I am in no way a qualified expert. My insights are based on a few articles that I have read in Hustler and Cosmopolitan, as well as lessons identified as I have tried to analyse what just happened in the wake of the occasional “silent treatment” (much rarer as I get older!)

So here goes…

Women are from Venus, and yeah, Men are from Mars.   The Book is a light, but thought-provoking read – recommended for those who are inclined to claw a little closer to the summit of the hierarchical needs pyramid.  I admit, yes, I have read it and found it interesting – not quite life-changing, but periodically habit-changing. The Book provided a few insights that helped me understand how I and other XYs act, and it also showed me that I had only seen the tip of the female communication iceberg.  You know it; that beautifully dangerous thing that has torn the hull of many a male psyche, leaving poor sods isolated and afloat in the cold waters of confusion.

For my part, I believe it is really a simple comparison: men do not like to share thoughts until they have a solution…women like to talk about things until they feel better.  I am sure, however, that experts will tell you that miscommunications are never that that simple.  Undoubtedly, a psychology major, sexual therapist or relationship counsellor will tell you that it is more complicated – that the root cause is probably a subliminal power struggle, or something stoked by negative feelings of appreciation and respect. Who knows?

In the end, I think it is just much simpler to accept that the sexes think and talk differently, and try to bridge the gap. Half of us have penises and the other half have vaginas; we usually manage to get those to live together in harmony.  So, the verbal part can’t be that hard then, can it?

Now,  I and many of my male friends, have probably sat at the kitchen table asking, “What did I say?”, after being stunned by an emotional tsunami.  Why is that?  Well, The Book offers that it may be due to a woman’s “emotional waves” (and, by the way, that is superimposed on any monthly waves).  The “literature” says that these periods are when women realise they need “emotional cleansing and resolution” (wtf?…okay, I think that means that the emotional oil and filter need to be changed).  Reportedly during these wonderful moments, negativity and pessimism rule.  A woman’s problems – perceived, existing and previously resolved – all exit the woman’s orbit and enter the man-o-sphere.  And there they will stay until the wave passes. And when it passes,  lo and behold, life is good again – smiles, chats and general lovey-doveyness. No real rhyme or reason, perhaps some triggers; but, inevitable just the same. Accept it.

But to add to the confusion, these silent and sad waves are countered by what a man thinks is the other extreme… the “talk” zone. Evidently, Venusians use dramatic language and artistic licence – not necessarily to convey a message – but to express their feelings (hence Everyman’s silent subconscious plea, “please, get to the point before my eyes stray to your cleavage or I get distracted by my toenails.”) For a woman, talking likely makes everything better: her man is listening, he is attentive and he does care.  Seemingly for her, sharing a problem is good enough; she does not need a solution.

Unfortunately, men do not think that way. To a man, every action has an equal and opposite reaction: as caveman once said, “Ughh uggah uggh!” (Translation:  “Bring me problem, I give answer!”)

Now to the guy reading this blog, do not think that men are any less of an enigma. True, we hate flowery language.  Yes, we are bluntly to the point (unless running scared).  Apparently, we talk in a literal fashion, mostly to relay information – you know, the “You look hot in that flannel nightgown. I’m horny”, kind of thing.  99% of our thoughts are preoccupied with meat, sports, sex/porn, or whatever has crossed our line of sight in the last 30 seconds.  Despite that, and the fact that we mostly have relatively shallow thoughts (for example, why do the words “booby” or “fart” make us giggle?), we can “appear” to be deep in meaningful thought.  That is because when we are stressed, feel threatened or do not have an answer, we retreat into a “hull down” position into our Caves. (Caves are varied and can be a place or an activity, i.e. the Den, the Gym, a video game, the Internet, a bike ride).  Why do we retreat? The Book says it is because we feel shame – our armour is rusted, our cape is at the cleaners – because we are puzzled or confused; we are not self-sufficient and we are no longer The Protector. Simply put, we feel useless. And we will stay in that cave – sulky, broody and silent – until we find or solution, or something shiny comes along and distracts us (again, usually porn.) Wait, common thread – porn – is that the answer? No?…Okay.

So, you ask me – what does it all mean? Wow.  To be honest, I don’t have a friggin’ clue – I didn’t write the damn Book.  But if you indulge me, I offer four suggestions for Yin andYang conversations (keeping in mind that I have made, and will continue to make mistakes).  These would be:

  • Don’t offer a solution unless it is asked for – not even when you are positive one is needed.
  • A man needs space – and isolation – when he has an issue. When he’s ready, he will talk about it, or he will let it go.
  • A woman needs her guy to listen to her and to physically show that he cares.  No “multi-tasking” listening, put down the remote control, newspaper or game controller and listen to what she has to say (and, remember Suggestion number one – listen only)
  • Don’t be cheap with the hugs.  There are never enough hugs. A good hug says more than any words can say and is a great way to enter the Cave or to show jus thow much you do care.

And that’s all I have to say on that…the game is just starting.  Later…

ASF