October 21, 2010

Men Are From...?

Wednesdays have become the traditional day for all my dad's friends to come and hang out in his shop. The hot dog griller is fired up and loaded down with "homewreckers" while men of all ages make the weekly pilgrimage bearing their half racks of beer. There is the occasional woman but for the most part it's just the testosterone crowd. If you can't handle drinking, swearing, crudeness and lots of male humor, you might as well skip it.

I stopped in yesterday to wish my daddy a happy birthday and I found myself just observing the group. People watching is one of my favorite things to do and this group was particularly fascinating to me if only because it just emphasized how different men and women are.

Here is what you will find on a Wednesday. Men of all ages, shapes and economic backgrounds are standing around the shop, brought together by a shared love of cars, beer, and my dad's warm friendship. While there are a few stools, most of the men stand around, beer can in hand, and visit with the guy standing closest to them. They may not know each other's names, may never see each other outside my dad's shop, but they can find plenty to talk about for the 2 or 3 hours that they are there. It's rarely personal, consisting of car stories, work stories and woman stories. After hours of talking and laughing and having a good time, they head home to their wives, girlfriends, or mothers, some not even knowing the names of the men they had such a good time with.

Now let's imagine the scenario with women. First of all, women would never get together in a shop. They'd find somewhere with chairs and sofas so everyone could be comfy. They may have drinks and food as well, but everyone would take off their coats, be introduced and the hostess would make sure everyone was comfortable before offering everyone their choice of beverages, coffee or tea. They may start the evening not knowing each other but by the time they head home, they know everyone's names, their kids' and husbands' names, their birthing stories, the little quirks their spouses do to drive them crazy (in both good ways and bad) and their favorite movies, foods and hobbies. In the space of a few hours, women will open up with each other and share things that would make men cringe to even contemplate.

I'm not saying one way is better than the other. I've been in the groups with women where far too much was shared but I've also been there when we laughed so hard we cried. I've been among men and heard them gripe about their wives but I've also seen them rally together to help out a friend. No group is better, just different. Those differences are what bring us together and yet also cause so many problems. While it would be nice to see men opening themselves up to their friends, do we really want to hear them comparing stories about passing that kidney stone or what happened at their last prostate exam?