Monday, December 14, 2009

The Pool

Lubbock Texas circa August 1976 -- long ago and far away.

Larry, newly married, young, innocent in the ways of virtually everything, anticipating his new bride's first birthday as man and wife: "Hey, Marty, what do you want for your birthday?"

Marty, newly married, already versed in the art of emotional complications and complexities looking for her new husband to prove his love: "Oh, nothing".

My first mistake and one of my first lessons in loving the opposite sex. Of course I didn't get her anything for her 22nd birthday, that's what she said......right???

We did manage to get past this major faux pas on my part, it wasn't my first and certainly wasn't my last. I'm still looking for my last mistake.

My instincts told me better, my Momma taught me better, but I listened to my man side, you know, the whole "boys are from Jupiter to get more stupider" part of my brain that said to me, "hey, cool, okay, no problem, that's easy enough."

It's a classic case of the differences between Marty and I, and I think men and women in general. I asked what I thought was a simple question. I got a much more nuanced answer than a young man could understand. I hadn't been trained.

I can't tell you how many times Marty and I ended or entered one of our "discussions" with her saying. "I know this is what you really meant and I know this is what you really feel". And me replying, "Marty, really, I'm not that deep." Nuance is not part of most men's psychological make-up. We have to learn emotional subtleties; we have to be educated in nuance.

Look at emotions like a huge swimming pool, maybe even one of those really awful wave pools at a water park. There's the deep end and there's the shallow end. There are smooth times when the water is like glass and rough times when waves are higher than you can see. See, just like real emotions.

Where are the women? In the deep end of course, experiencing the environment, experiencing the emotions, riding the waves up and down and occasionally asking their chromosomal partner to meet them in the deep water of life.

The men, we are standing tall in the shallow end. Sometimes we will get on our back and do the back stroke in the shallow end and maybe, maybe we might even get to where the water is up to our necks, but we always want to be able to stand up with our head out of the water. Treading water (dealing with our emotions or the subtitles of life) is exhausting.

None of this should be construed to mean women and men are that simple. None of us are. We are all different. We all are standing or swimming in different places in the pool, it's a big pool. We all need to be in different places in the pool, but we all need to test the deep waters sometimes.  Marty, bless her heart, dragged me to a lot of different spots in the pool; turns out I can tread water.

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