• September 2009
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Even the Good Ones Think We’re Crazy

By the time she’s in her 30s, the average single gal has spent approximately 758 hours deeply engrossed in the complex, maze-like game of Deciphering the Y Chromosome.  A major stage at which this game starts (and often ends since it can easily encompass at least half of those 758 hours) is Figuring Out the Brain of the Y Chromosome.  We single gals embark on this journey of figuring out what the hell goes on in those brains of men over drinks at happy hour when we’ve just met a new one, curled up in the fetal position on living room floors after breaking up with one, and quite often we endeavor to Figure out the Brain of the Y Chromosome when we’re engaged in a conversation with the chromosome itself.

We know we shouldn’t.  To exert so much energy on a game that has been played by our mothers and grandmothers who have only been able to bestow this brilliant discovery on many of us: “Men are…not women. Good luck.”  But, we do anyhow.  We are strong, independent women; seeking out needless challenges that only promise to frustrate and exhaust us is just what we do.

Several days ago, I had dinner with two good Black men.  I’ve known these good Black men since we were teenagers and they were two good Black boys. One is married; the other is newly single after having been in a long term relationship that produced an adorable little girl.  Since both of these good Black men are my platonic friends, I thought it would be advantageous to play another round of Figuring Out the Y Chromosome with them.  Authors of dating self-help books continually suggest that women stop talking amongst themselves about what goes on in the heads of men and go right to the source.  What these relationship “experts” neglect to also mention is if a curious single gal wants an uncensored peek into the male brain, she should make it her goal to talk with a male with whom she is NOT having sex and with whom the chance of naked activities in the foreseeable future is very minimal.

Hence, my childhood friends: Roger and Greg.

According to Roger: “All women are crazy.  It is a matter of how crazy your woman is that determines whether or not you marry her.”  Roger has just completed his sixth year of marriage.  Apparently, Roger’s big brother has been married even longer than he has.  Roger credits his brother’s theory on the universal insanity of women for making it easier to argue with his wife, particularly when he’d like an argument to end in a concrete resolution.  

“See, it’s like when y’all say you want to deal with the problem, that’s not really true.  You really want to deal with how you feel about the problem AND the problem itself.”  Roger says after 6 years of marriage, he still has not figured out when his wife wants him to do either one.  When he tries to go right to addressing (and fixing) the problem, he is asked: “Can’t you just listen to me for once?”  When he spends the first few minutes of a conflict saying absolutely nothing, he is then in trouble for not doing anything to work on whatever the problem is.  (Sometimes, Roger is not sure what the argument itself is about or why his wife is displeased.)  According to Roger, this is quite stressful to men and further proves his brother’s theory about every woman firmly foot holding a spot on the continuum of crazy.

We exhaust men.  We have a lot of emotions and feelings and thoughts and needs swirling around all at once.  We can not turn off all of that complexity so they have to keep dealing with it.  Everyday.  

We can be tiring.

When I shared my suspicion that while men may not be as complex as women, they are in fact much more complicated than they admit, Greg was quick to jump in. “Yeah, those few times when we are complicated and emotionally complex it is when we’re trying to figure out what to say to y’all, how to say it and when to say it and keeping in mind how you will hear it, how you will feel about it and most of all, if what we say will make you happy with us.  Or at least, mildly pleased.  When we’re not doing all that…we’re simple creatures.”

So, apparently our insanity is the sole catalyst for men’s occasional descent into complexity.  

I want to stress that these two men with whom I had dinner are in fact, GOOD BLACK MEN.  That elusive category of male many women have been fooled into believing died off around 1983 or so.  Roger and Greg are not good black men merely because they have good jobs and ambitions and the restraint to not hit women when they are angered.  They are good men where it really matters.  Men who know right from wrong and govern their lives accordingly.  Men, who are flawed and no doubt have deserved the occasional shoe being thrown at their heads by the “crazy” women in their lives, but for the most part, honor and respect women.  Men who try to protect the women they love and raise their daughters with a strong sense of how they should be treated by the man they will eventually love after Daddy.

Even these type of men believe women have a screw (or two) missing?  Father, help us.

By the time we were wrapping up our meal, I was determined to make this round of Figuring Out The Male Brain result in a victory for me.  There have been so few over the years.  Since I do not see Roger and Greg very often, I wanted this dinner to be symbolic.  To represent the one time when I can truly tell my girlfriends I have gained some crucial insight into the Y chromosome that will unlock decades worth of confusion and mind-numbing misunderstandings.  

I wanted to know what was so difficult about having to deal with more than one emotion at once.  I explained to Roger that perhaps what causes his wife to get frustrated with his inability to know when to react with immediate action and when to switch gears and just listen is because she does it all the time, with little thought.  Her friends do it as well.  You need me to address this conflict while still acknowledging how upset/afraid/worried you are about the conflict?  Okay, done.  And if you don’t mind, while I’m doing that I’ll also call and reschedule my doctor’s appointment and lecture my kid about that D in Math, too.

It is second nature to us.  Being intuitive to a person’s needs and shape shifting to fit those needs before changing gears and dealing with that person in a different way.  Isn’t it just a matter of multi-tasking?  

“Why can’t you people just get better at multi tasking?”  Isn’t there one of those “dummy” books for this significant skill?

The good Black men looked at each other and then me.  I waited for just one little secret piece to be revealed.  Some insight that would declare victory.

“Look,” Greg said.  “We just don’t do it that well.  One thing at a time, please.  That’s all we ask.”

Roger smiled in agreement.

So, after another energizing round of Figuring Out the Y Chromosome, I have this to report:

Men are…not women.  Good luck!

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