The Care and Feeding of North American Women
For Men Only: Ladies, Please Skip to the next Chapter. Please?
Part one: Understanding the objective-subjective means of communication.
Women tend to be more strategic than men in their social interactions. For example, two men who do not like each other will generally react either by beating each other senseless and then letting the issue die, or by just avoiding each other. Women who do not get along with each other within a social group will engage in a long-term war involving secret alliances, accusations, and power-games in order to establish supremacy. And it only gets worse after elementary school. For this reason, words tend to carry more political significance than physical actions do. Because women tend to interpret every communication on a subjective basis, it is helpful to remember that women perceive actions entirely differently than males do; common statements may be perceived incorrectly, as in the following examples.
1. Greeting a woman with a smile.
2. "Wow, you look really nice this morning!"
3. "Would you like to dance?"
4. "Are you in a bad mood today?"
The above examples are merely intended to illustrate my point that women seldom take statements made by men at face value. One should be careful in uttering phrases which are vague or unspecific to women; easily clarified statements such as "The weather is nice today" or "I hope the weather is nice tomorrow," which do not involve social alliances or relationships, leave one less open to being misunderstood.
Part two: Translating from Womanese to Manese
Because women tend to interpret language from a subjective basis, they also tend to speak English in their own peculiar mode. Simply, women assume that men understand them when this is often not the case. Men comprehend language on a direct basis; there is no need to translate what is said because it is unnecessary to consider the source and background of the information; how many ways can "That's a bitchin' new bike, buddy" be interpreted? However, a statement made by a woman is basically unintelligible to a man unless he can account for who is saying it, the audience, what that person was wearing, who was listening, what the mood of the speaker is, and what the relationship of all present is to the speaker.
This is all highly confusing to males, and thus we present some typical interrogatory statements made by women with specific advice on the proper answer to such statements which will allow you (to use a psychological term) to avoid getting into big fat trouble.
1. "I'm really getting fat."
2. "Does this look good on me?"
3. "Do you think she is pretty?"
4. "How old do you think I am?"
6. "Do you think I'm silly?"
7. "We spend way too much time together."
Part three: Preventing getting yourself in deep doo-doo
The previous section merely illustrated some strategies for male—female conversation. Now it's time for the big leagues where we examine entire scenarios and some standardized rules of conduct for men in social interactions or boyfriend—girlfriend relationships. The following practical guidelines are intended to assist you in dealing with general situations of potential disaster, whether with one or many women.
1. Situation: You are sitting with several females in a room with few or no other males. The girls are somehow in a rowdy and vulgar mood and begin making jokes about their monthly functions.
Response: Never, ever, for the love of all that's bright and beautiful, never join in the banter because after even the most coarsest remarks, any joke you make, however innocuous, will be greeted with stony silence and you will descend to the popularity level of, say, Hitler. Women are extremely protective of their reproductive periods and will attack any male comment with "that's gross!" or "you have no idea what it's like!" The same applies to situations where women are joking about their breast sizes. Do not offer an opinion even if asked as you will be shot for it. Thus you should try to attract as little attention as possible until the topic changes, by either laughing quietly or pretending to be distracted by another activity in the room, i.e. television commercials (write down the order number for that Magic Cheez Grater deal!) or the careful retying of shoelaces.
2. Situation: You are sitting, again, with several females in a room with few or no other males. While watching television, Brad Pitt or a similar heartthrob appears on the screen. The women bill and coo over his attributes.
Response: Do not denounce their actions as purely sexual or feign disgust with their superficial attitudes. You will be dealt with a tirade along the general lines of "We don't like Brad Pitt because he's attractive but because he's sensitive and vulnerable and cries while he reads poetry," or with "You're just jealous!", which is an instant reputation destroyer. The safest response is to, again, ignore the situation by suddenly paying attention to winding or resetting your watch or adjusting your sock levels.
3. Situation: A girl in your social group decides to play matchmaker; she coyly asks you which girls in the group you are attracted to.
Response: Girls will often ask this in order to find out 'what sells' in their group in order to establish hierarchy; this may also be asked to determine your availability for an interested party. If you tell her this information you will be dead meat and the subject of gossip within a radius of twelve city blocks; the safest answer is a vague answer, i.e. identifying yourself as a confirmed bachelor or priesthood candidate. (Think twice about identifying yourself as not liking girls at all if avoiding gossip is your objective.) Persistent questions may be dealt with by "that's a guy thing" or "I find all the girls attractive!"
4. Situation: Your girlfriend has begun to hint upon the subject of marriage by stopping in front of jewellery and bridal stores and leaving wedding magazines strewn about her room. Somehow, whether the topic is gene therapy or Icelandic trade, marriage comes into it. She might come right out and ask you what you think a happy marriage is—as much an oxymoron as 'military intelligence' and 'country music', remind yourself.
Response: To avoid a fate worse than death, you must try as much as possible to change the subject; (i.e. Nice weather we're having! How 'bout those Oilers!) if you are clearly trapped, you might try changing the subject to a known area of female explosion which could distract her (i.e. religion: 'Ah, yes, but what would Augustine have thought of modern marriage?' or, in worst case scenarios, politics: 'Did you know that sales tax is charged on wedding apparel?')
5. Situation: You are sitting in a room with numerous females and few or no other males. After one of the females in the group leaves, one or more of the remaining females begin attacking her. The mood steadily grows tense.
Response: Get out! You are walking into a catfight which will consume everyone there like flesh-eating disease. If you remain quiet you may not attract attention, but you will be classified anyway as 'for' or 'against.' A common mistake is to join in and agree with the accusations. This will result in all women immediately perceiving this as an outside attack, especially if the group is relatively close-knit; you will be denounced as a back-slasher who is criticizing their meek, defenceless sister. Perhaps the safest response if leaving is imprudent is to mildly defend those attacked and appeal to a higher standard, i.e. Christian charity. If you are not criticized for being naïve, you may be able to come off as above it all and will gain mega brownie points. At this point you should remain silent for at least fifteen minutes while you watch television, seemingly absorbed in some amoral soap opera or other suitable female programming.
6. Situation: Your girlfriend has not spoken for several minutes and will not look at you. Realizing that it is unnatural for a woman to refrain from speaking for more than twenty second periods, you ask what is wrong. She replies, "(plaintive, mournful sigh) oh, nothing..."
Response: You are in big trouble. Did you forget her birthday or run over her cat? You are now, unfortunately, faced with two unpleasant alternatives, for the longer you allow her to be silent the angrier she will get. Clue: estimate the length of her sigh. There is a general correlation between this and the length of the explosion you will get in exponential terms. For example, a one second sigh usually indicates a five-to-ten minute lecture, whereas a two-second sigh could culminate in getting bawled out for an hour. The best response is to A. run for it or B. speak softly to her and recite poetry.
Remember, poetry, poetry, poetry! It's your last-ditch secret weapon. It can get you out of jams. And I'm not talking about the Battle of Maldon. Keats or Shelley will do. Look for Victorian poets with feminine features and lots of silk, and lacy script. You'll almost never go wrong. Watch Sense & Sensibility for tips, if you can stand to.
Part four: Things to watch for; interpreting group female behaviour.
If the average male knew, for example, the political manoeuvrings that women engage in at mating ceremonies such as dances, they would run screaming into the night. Women have the known habit of leaving for the washroom in small groups; do you see many men doing this? There are reasons for this activity. This may be a means of freeing a woman from a conversation with someone undesirable. Thus, if you are talking to a woman and her friend approaches (usually on a visual cue such as winking or sending up gunpowder flares) and asks for help powdering her nose, you should take the hint while realizing that the woman is at least trying to be tactful.
This may also happen between two women engaged in a catfight (i.e. "I really think you have to go to the washroom" through clenched teeth). Men generally do not have extended conversations in the bathroom; remarks are usually limited to the mundane (i.e. "lend me your comb" or "did you see the [eyes] on that blonde at your table?) In contrast, a ladies' washroom resembles a military headquarters; strategies are meshed out, men are fought over and evaluated, and organized cosmetics sessions occur. No wonder they take forever in there. Man, how long did it take to plan Normandy?
Males also seldom realize how united women are in communication. Women radiate an aura of being locked in an eternal power struggle and seem to cut each other down at will: "Who does she think she is?"; "Nice dress! Does it come in your size?" However, in matters where cooperation leads to the common good, i.e. romance, women have more group solidarity than the Red Guard.
For example, I warned earlier never to admit romantic interests to a woman. If this information is given, manoeuvres begin taking place that would dwarf a Rommel battle strategy. What happens is that A. this information is relayed throughout the girls in the social group within one hour, or within twenty minutes if it was given 'in strict secrecy.' B. The opinion of the intended girl(s) is sought. C. If you are judged to be unsuitable, you will descend to the status of Jack the Ripper and will become an outcast. However, if your prospects are good, you will soon be surrounded by numerous smiling females seeking information, generally with the subtlety of a steam shovel, which will be relayed across the group instantaneously; the concerned female(s) will act in a seclusive and flirtatious manner.
Part five: Summary.
Generally, the information provided thus far applies mainly to high-school age and college women. For unexplainable reasons, the birthing of children seems to wreak numerous psychological processes in women which often makes them easier to comprehend; thus there is a silver lining to the dark cloud of marriage.
I would like to acknowledge those subjects which have provided me with a wealth of practical information in the newly emergent field of Applied Wenchology, whether through observation or direct contribution, and to friends who have suggested ideas for this chapter. Obviously, I have only touched upon the basics of male—female social relationships, and caution that the only effective means of learning is to go out and take your bruises like I did. Despite my obvious expertise, I married very late.