I grew up believing I understood at least a few things about guys.
An only sister sandwiched between two brothers, I was equally adept at bullying my younger brother into playing house as I was hitting home runs in our three-way backyard baseball games. My father sometimes worried I’d turn out to be a tomboy. I loved tagging along when he did odd jobs around the house, and showed real promise handling a .22 rifle on the practice range.
My successful co-existence in a largely male world continued throughout college. With a better than four-to-one male-to-female ratio, I was an instant minority in my major; and although romance bloomed here and there, it was much more like a big extended family. In the days of still refining Women’s Lib, I was generally treated like one of the boys.
As a young married, I reveled in the partnership of equals into which I’d entered. Sharing views on just about every topic, I discovered to my delight, on most points we were in sync. I vividly recall my mid-twenty-something self listening with quiet disapproval to a group of middle-aged women at a friend’s bridal shower garrulously griping about their husbands. These last generation women of limited enlightenment were determined to perpetuate all the evil and inaccurate myths about the differences between the men and women. Didn’t they know we were living in a New Age of equality and mutual understanding? I would never complain about the men in my life the way these old wives did.
Just shy of my 30th birthday, the babies started coming; first two daughters, then a son. Bit by bit my view of the sexes began to change. In the time it takes a little boy to become a bigger boy, I went from judging a parent harshly because her “brutish” kid smashed his sisters’ dollhouse to pieces to quickly improvising a “wreck station” for a three year old, who seethed into my home office one sunny afternoon and said, his baby teeth gnashing, “I want to break something.”
Now that we have a teenage boy and a steady flow of college guy stories from his older sister and other sources, I’ve lost any illusion of innate comprehension. As a matter of fact, I frequently want to ask the so called “stronger” sex, “What are you thinking?”
Last spring friends of ours shared an interesting tale told them by their then freshman daughter. One fine day she and her roommates discovered water seeping through their ceiling. The cause: an ice-maker the guys in the apartment above hadn’t bothered to disconnect before dragging the fridge out of the kitchen and into the living room. They wanted to shorten the distance they’d have to go to satisfy all their cold food and beverage needs when hanging out watching TV and gaming.
Our own daughter — through her totally unbiased female perspective — related how the only sounds issuing from the boys in the dorm room across the hall were the 24/7 grunts of effort and shouts of frustration or triumph inspired by their video game consoles. Surrounded by fine, young, unattached coeds, these modern man cave marvels preferred the safety of their violent fantasy worlds to actual contact with living, breathing girls.
Here at home, our 15-year-old son constantly baffles me as he alternates, usually with whiplash speed, between sweet consideration and explosive anger. And they talk about female hormones!
It’s been a long, slow, stop and go journey through my personal solar system between Venus and Mars. While I’m certainly grateful for many of the more obvious differences between the sexes, I’ve concluded men and women truly do come from different planets. Most times I think this is a good thing. But at others . . . let’s just say the next sound you may hear is me scratching my head in an effort to massage my mystified mind as I witness yet another stunning manifestation of how the other half thinks.
Susan Writer writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com and is one of The Frederick News-Post’s Board of Contributors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.