Photo: digital vision photography/veer.com
Why do you get so angry when some jamoke cuts you off in traffic?
Two things. Testosterone is one. The automobile is the other. See, we have this fight-or-flight thing programmed into our DNA, and when another male of the species challenges us, we are coded to get our hackles up. Add to that the fact that from the moment we got our driver's license, the automobile has been the extension of our sense of both power and freedom, and you have a perfect storm of nature and nurture creating a hostile response to a challenge to the things that make us a man.
That said, we know we need to just calm down. One thing that would help is if you would just rub the back of our head and mutter "bastard" under your breath in sympathy.
You know when you just sit there with a scowl on your face, not saying anything? What is that about?
Generally, it's not about you. We tend to take everything personally, and we tend to anticipate not what can go right but what will inevitably go wrong. So, whether it's something complicated at work or getting that stinking sliding door to roll right, we're consumed with the obstacles in our path toward success.
Is everything really about sex?
Well, no. I mean, yes. Sex is one of the reasons we're together, you and us. There was something about you the first time we saw you that made our heart sing. If we're lucky, it's still there every time we see you. Plus, is there anything more affirming, more life affirming and satisfying than sex? Essentially, we don't see the downside. So the answer is no, not everything. And the answer is yes, a part of everything is, if we're both lucky, about sex.
What do men talk about?
Usually, we talk about what we're engaged in at that moment. Or we're telling each other stories of embarrassment or triumph. We grew up telling each other stories, and we'll never stop. We don't tell each other jokes. The topic of our conversation rarely matters, and we probably won't remember what we were talking about later when you ask. The only time we really talk seriously with each other is when we fear we might be failing. But that's rare, and it usually passes quickly. Which is why we didn't mention it.
We can't believe you didn't notice our hair.
Yeah, well. That might just be something you will have to learn to live with.
You don't seem to like it when we tell you what to do.
Oh, you noticed. Look, we tend to see ourselves as the initiators of action. If we know what needs to be done, usually we'll get it done. In fact, we take joy in accomplishing things. Let's compromise. Just stick a list somewhere of things that need to be done. Don't put our name on it. It's just a list of tasks. We like tasks. We like doing them. We like finishing them. But we like it best when it was our idea to do them.
What do you like most about us?
Oh, Jesus. We love it when you sit down on the side of the bed and kiss us for no reason. We can't get over that. We love it when you ask us for advice on something that really matters to you. We love the way you smell. We love the way you smell right after you finish exercising. We love the way you look just before you wake up in the morning. We love it when you argue with us about something—movies, sports, politics—that really doesn't matter. We love the way you will fill a silence at a dinner party, and we love the way you give us guidance when it comes to our mothers. We love the way you look when you're half-dressed or half-undressed. We love your certainty, even when you're sure we're wrong.
And we love your hair.
Inside the Male Brain
From the July 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine