Men and Women, together apart.
I'm on a roll thinking about the many differences between men and women, and this week the thought occurred to me of just how big a divide there is over something so very fundamental as talking. There was a time when I thought that men hardly have much to say at all, except perhaps on matters of business, sports and politics. However, while that may be true in America and Britain, nothing could be farther from the truth here in Spain.
I have observed Spanish men gathering in their favourite bar or cafe and chatting for hours over this and that. They seem to be compelled to seek out the company of others to "charla" over cigarettes and wine. It would appear to be part of the (wonderful) attitude of the Mediterranean man to find the time to relax, enjoy the sun, a meal and a bottle of wine and family and friends. Two topics that are central to their interest are football and bullfighting, in equal order of importance. The local nightly news will often occupy twenty minutes, followed by football for thirty minutes.
The situation has been ramped up lately because in the Catalan region, after much talk, of course, the traditional bullfight has been dropped as a custom. I cannot give you a sense of the controversy this caused in the region, and throughout Spain, only to say that this is a huge topic and very divisive.
I think the mindset for men to gather and to talk socially is missing in America and Britain. Someone once said that if two of these men were to sail a yacht around the world together, apart from discussing shipboard matters they would likely not have anything else to say to one another. On the other hand, my friend Pepe is known to talk all the time, without pause. He seems to know a little about every topic under the sun, or at least he has an opinion, and if I were so foolish to lock myself in an airplane with him for a trans-Atlantic flight, he would talk going into the airport, all through the waiting period and the flight, and coming out of the airport on the other end.
Women, on the other hand are united as sisters around the world in that they use the ability of speech to bond together as men never have. I admire the ease with which women communicate with one another with none of the hang-ups that men have. It starts when two women meet and they find things to just love about what the other person is wearing.
From there the conversation could flow easily in any direction, including about things of a business nature, to politics, to family problems and children; home problems, dealing through the financial crisis, sewing, cooking, personal fitness, etc, etc. None of those topics is of any less importance than men talking about what to do about those Iranians and their nuclear plans, but the subject matters are approached in such a natural manner. You will notice I did not specially mention men, as a talking point, because I think it would be egotistical to imagine that women even think about men when they are having their coffee mornings. In fact, I think that women welcome the break from their dealings with us men and never give us a mention when they are together.
Is one approach better or superior than the other? I think not! I think it is the acting out of how we are wired and what works best for men and women. Where problems arise is when a woman wants to make a best friend of her husband or boyfriend, and she wants to spend hours in conversation with him. This is not likely to work that well because he is not a she and just doesn't have that lobe. It is very difficult to interest a man in what you bought at the shoe shop, or the new dress you bought, except when you are wearing it.
To take the husband or lover on a shopping trip is normally pure torture for him. In my wife's case, she is a very careful shopper. She reads everything and carefully inspects every garment as though she were an auditor. My idea of shopping for a suit is that the whole experience should take no more than fifteen minutes. But that is a completely different subject that we will pursue another time.
Copyright (c) 2012 Eugene Carmichael