The longer I’m married, the more I realize that men’s and women’s brains are wired as differently as circular saws and curling irons. Not even close. Their divergent evolutionary paths no doubt began when the couple with the charming brow ridges realized that since the woman had baby food hanging conveniently right there under her collarbones, it made practical sense for the larger, more combative knuckle-dragger to go out and kill brunch.
That basic division of labor led to chasms between our points of view, of course, which then inevitably led to in-house Rules of Conduct, e.g., Rule 1: Don’t lurch into the cave smelling like wildebeest entrails and expect baby-making activities to ensue. Couples continue to make rules to this very epoch, because what one considers perfectly acceptable behavior can drive the other vein-bulging mad.
For example, I work for clients who give me SWAG (for the uninitiated, the PG translation is “Stuff” We All Get); so you might look at the cap I’m wearing and think I know something about medical supplies, The Missouri Lottery, or road-grading equipment. I don’t, but since I hate to throw away a perfectly good anything, my wife has capped my cap collection at 20 – if one comes in, one must go out. Same thing with my Company-logoed Briefcase and Gym Bag Collection. Again, Goodwill has saved our marriage, and Sweetie Cakes has more room to keep lamps we don’t use.
A few years back, I was forced to make a rule as a result of a well-documented law of human nature: Men – okay, straight men – can talk to each other about hair for about seven seconds before it gets uncomfortable, while women can talk about hair virtually indefinitely. When a bunch of buddies meet up at a bar or a game, you won’t hear anybody say, “Steve! Your hair looks fabulous, buddy! Are you still going to The Hair Fairy?” And most of the time Steve’s not going to say, “Oh, I can’t do a thing with it, but I’m headed to the men’s room to try this new product. Wanta come?”
One night in L.A., we were dining with another couple when the women started talking about hair and how the heat and humidity distresses tresses. Approximately eight soul-killing minutes later, I was forced to create the Two-Minute Rule, which is how long my wife is allowed to talk about hair in my presence before we change topics. I had to do this because they can babble for hours about highlights and tints and frizzing, and sometimes the conversations are downright tragic, like for our friend Charlene: “Oh, God, when Christopher left The Clip Joint I didn’t know what I was going to do! I was lost! I couldn’t go back to Crops and Bobbers – you know about Blaine and that nightmare, God. I went on Facebook, I even thought about swallowing my pride and going to Shear Madness, I put out feelers ... ”
Feelers? Jeez. He’s not clipping out a kidney, sweetheart. I’m grateful it’s so simple for us guys. Our hair conversations tend to be quick and much more light-hearted: “Hey Jimbo! Did you just get a haircut, or did you back into a weed-eater, haaaaah! No, just kiddin’ you buddy, it’s very stylish – if you’re on a chain gang! HAH!”