There is a fair amount of misinformation out there about the female capacity for understanding and patience. Somehow we have become known, even among ourselves, for our willingness to lend a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a plethora of sound advice on everything from birth control to how to handle mothers-in-law. But all things have their limits, including female patience.
What exactly does a woman do when she has reached her wit’s end when it comes to offering consolation? Well, she starts acting like a man. No kidding.
Ever notice how when a guy is down the first thing his buddies do is offer him a beer? Why women don’t start with this logical step, I’m not sure. We tend to use it as a last resort, as if the consumption of alcoholic beverages is only for the completely disconsolate, those too far gone for reason, reassurance, or even hope.
And perhaps that’s why I’m a bit reluctant to admit that I was offered the alcoholic beverage ticket last night. Just how far gone was I? Well, what kind of person devolves into a fit of crying while sitting on an expansive deck overlooking blue fjords plunging into the Adriatic Sea while on a cruise a world away from work, spouse, and children?
Yes, my point exactly—a very far gone one.
It was my friend, Dorothy (a contributor to this blog), who was the victim of my sudden onset of despair, and after repeated attempts to console me with hugs, commiseration, reasoning, and even cheesecake, she finally threw up her hands and said firmly, “We’re going out to get drinks.”
“No,” I said, “I can’t. I look like hell. My eyes are bloodshot, my hair is a mess, and I’m dressed for hiking, not going out.”
She gave me her cool blue-eyed look of death and said dismissively from her position across the room, “Your eyes don’t look bloodshot from here.” And then she launched her attack even further, reminding me that the cruise ship’s late night entertainment included a guest trumpet player fromAustralia—hard to resist since my first crush was a trumpet player. (And trumpet players can kiss, too, not that I had any intention of kissing the Australian trumpeter—he was twice my age.)
But she coaxed me to do what Susannah (another contributor here) always advises—“if you can manage nothing else, at least put on some mascara and lipstick, for heaven’s sake.”
So I did, as Dorothy instructed me firmly on the agenda for the wee hours. “We’re going to get drinks, and then we’re going to the show,” she said. “And if you start crying again in the middle of the show, I’m going to dump my drink on your head.”
Enough said. Nobody wants to walk around smelling like a martini.
And the truth is, the whole plan kind of worked. I hate to admit it, but I think the guys are onto something. Because after you’ve had three margaritas and watched aghast as a 70-year-old trumpet player unbuttons his tuxedo shirt, pretending he’s Julio Iglesias when it’s obvious he hasn’t worked out in at least 40 years, you start to feel better.
I’ve never been one to advocate the use of controlled substances to soothe away pain, but they can be a proper band-aid at times when the point is just to get through the next hour, the next day, the next moment until things turn around, and you’ve had enough sleep, sustenance, and exercise to face your fears without freaking out.
So hat’s off to the men for knowing, better than we, apparently, how to shortcut the blues. Though it’s true denial is not a river inEgypt, it’s a handy tool when life gets to be a little bit overwhelming. One should always take the truth in small doses for best results.
What else do the guys know that we don’t? Well, based on the ever decreasing neatness of our cruise ship cabin, I’d say we’re also learning the male art of not getting too hung up on disarray either. I knew the degree to which we had finally devolved when I picked up a pair of black socks from the floor (no small feat when lit to full tipsy following a three for one cocktail offer at the bar), tossed them to Dorothy, and said, “Are these yours?”
In true male fashion, she looked at them briefly, nodded her head and said, “I wonder if they are clean or dirty.” Hold to nose: sniff, sniff. “Yeah, I think I can get another day out of them.” Toss back onto floor.
Can’t blame her. I’m rather sick of washing socks, bras, and panties in the bathroom sink myself, particularly since the stateroom attendant has a mildly disturbing habit of collecting the clothes lying about the room and displaying them in an alluring manner on the bed at night for evening turndown. Maybe he’s hoping for a big tip.
As for me, I’m hoping to learn whether or not the male denial and avoidance tactics work for the long haul. I’m thinking not, at least not where the female brain is concerned. We’re hardwired to face reality full on, stinky socks and all.