I think it is appropriate that my one of my first few columns should deal with the most fundamental truth about men, and that is this: Men are simple.
I know some of you may be thinking that I’ve completely sold out my brethren in an effort to pander to my female readers and gain their trust. But that is just not true. Because “simple” is not bad, or inferior, or lacking value and substance. “Simple” means simply…not complex. It does not mean devoid of emotion or intelligence or empathy. No, men are quite capable of deep emotion, tremendous empathy and stunning feats of intellectual prowess. It’s just that men epitomize the axiom, “what you see is what you get.” You may try to credit us with great depth and complexity, but truly you are “barking up the wrong tree.”
It is quite understandable, however, why you would believe that there is much mystery and intrigue bubbling just under our hairy surface. That is the way you are (minus the hairy surface, usually). Because, unlike men, women are amazingly complex creatures. When you speak, your words are often filled with subtext and deeper meaning, which other women inherently understand. But men are oblivious to the subtle nuances of your conversation. Sure, they understand the words, but they fail to grasp the hidden messages, the unspoken emotional underpinnings. They take your words at face value. Why? Because men are simple.
I know this may be hard to believe, but consider this: How often have you asked your male significant-other, “what did you mean by that,” only to have him stare blankly back at you as if you’d just spoken to him in ancient Aramaic? From your point of view, your question is perfectly valid. He said he doesn’t feel like going to the beach today, but you know that what he really meant is that he’s noticed you’ve packed on a few pound and is ashamed to be seen in a public place with you and your flab. And you know this because you “read between the lines,” and ferreted out his true meaning. Thus, you are justifiably indignant. How dare he comment on your girth, when the last time he saw his toes, Paris Hilton was just a luxury hotel in France. And your assessment of his contemptuous comment would be absolutely accurate, were he a woman. But he’s not – he’s a man, and he’s clueless about subtext. So, when he said he didn’t feel like going to the beach, what he really meant was he didn’t feel like going to the beach. Nothing else. No underlying meaning. No couched insult. And he gazes helplessly back at you and your indignation, mind-racing, trying desperately to figure out how his lack of enthusiasm for surf and sand have provoked your ire.
You see, men talk in an overtly literal manner. For us, words are merely tools of communication (pretty much all things are tools to us – you know how we love our tools), which we employ, with no great pleasure, for their utilitarian benefit in attaining a specific goal. We want something, so we ask for it. We like something, so we praise it. We hate something, so we denounce it. Very practical…and very simple. Consequently, we don’t understand the fact that you regularly dissect interpersonal intercourse, extracting information that completely escapes us. You are complicated. You are analytical. You are deep. We just want you to like us, laugh at our jokes, and have sex with us at the drop of a hat. See? What could be “simpler” than that?
© 2008 David M. Matthews. All Rights Reserved.