One of the things in life of which men are most acutely aware is that there are women everywhere. Today, for instance, I’ve already seen five or six different women. And that was just looking out my living room window.
And no, I don’t stand in my living room, blatantly ogling people as they walk by. That’s tacky. What I do is spy at them through the blinds. It’s the only polite thing to do. And if spying on my neighbors this way has the effect, every once in a while, of getting my nose caught in the blinds, it’s usually nothing that a few bandages, some iodine, and a few quick stitches with some dental floss can’t fix right up before I feint from the pain.
But the point is, women are everywhere. And even though men have women everywhere in their lives—at work, at home, at the gym, in the restaurant restroom if they mistook the little stick figure with the skirt on for a picture of a man with a giant triangle in his pants—they know that few if any women know these five things about them:
1. They look at porn. To say that men sometimes look at porn is like saying that things sometimes float in space. The reason men look at porn so much is because every man has a porno screen installed in his head, upon which there is always something playing. A preview of coming attractions. An opening cartoon. A feature presentation. Credits. Special features. Deleted scenes. A gag reel. And all of it is centered around naked girls doing things that would make Orville Redenbacher’s bow tie explode. The amazing thing is that men have learned how to spend so much time functioning as if they’re not being mesmerized by the flickering porno screen playing in their head. They have developed this unique evolutionary capacity from the sheer necessity of having to at least every once in a while get it together enough to make it to the store for more popcorn.
2. They bond over what losers they are. Women are mystified by the nature of male bonding. They think men bond over the joys of forming a football huddle, or the love of beer, or due to some kind of primordial mingling of testosterone-infused pheromones. But the real reason any man can instantly bond with just about any other man is because every man holds within himself a secret that he’s only comfortable sharing with other men. And that secret is that he is, generally speaking, a loser. Like he knows his name, every man knows that in life he can never truly win at all the things he’s supposed to. Not because he’s incompetent, or inferior, or incapable of figuring out how his blinds work. But rather because he knows that, no matter what he does, “winning” will always remain a relative state. No matter what a man wins, gains, earns, or accomplishes, he knows that for him there will always be so much more to win, gain, earn, and accomplish. He knows that being a man means competing in a huge, ongoing game he could no sooner actually win than he could fly. Every man knows that, in the end, his life’s predicament is best and most truthfully understood as funny. They’ll never come out and say it just that way, but whenever men are standing around together holding beers and laughing, that’s almost always what, beneath it all, they’re really laughing about. When you have nothing, you still have blessed humor.
3. They want to fight. Men are designed to rage against the machine. The problem is “the machine” is usually their boss at work, and raging against him or her would instantly become raging in their car on the way home because they just go fired. The problem with modern life is that nowadays it’s almost always considered rude to squat down into a sumo wrestling stance and then launch yourself at someone who has annoyed you. Nobody invites back the dinner the guest who continuously lunges across the table to attack yet another yapping schmuck. No company offers a business seminar on “The Timely Pummel: An Effective Strategy for Salary Negotiations.” But men want to actually and physically fight. Even if they get the crap kicked out of them, fighting is something that makes makes sense to a man. Talking just confuses men. (And not least because every word in our stupid language seems to have about a zillion different meanings. “Shall we, then?” “Is that contingency satisfactory?” “Would you prefer the house dressing on that?” “Is foreplay really that hard?” Ridiculous, every one.) Give a man a bar, send him into a bar, bar from that bar any man not carrying a bar, and he’ll be happy.
4. It freaks them out knowing the buck stops with them. Men live their lives knowing that, if push comes to shove, it’ll be they who are expected to rush into the burning building, to chase away the burglar, to jump in the icy river and save the only dog in the freakin’ universe who apparently forgot how to dog paddle. If you’re a woman who can’t understand why her man seems never to want to leave the house, wonder no more. It’s scary out there, is why. People fall out of buildings, get hit by cars, pull out guns they start waving around. Mad dogs attack; drunks go berserk; trucks swerve out of control; confused ducks fly straight into billboards. And when calamity strikes, who does everyone expect to step up and deal with it? Men, that’s who. No one else. No one looks to the woman to chase down and tackle the purse snatcher. Nobody wonders why the nearby little girl didn’t stop the runaway car. Nobody asks Junior to quit playing with his toy truck and go scrape the duck off the billboard. It’s all on the man. When women go out with their husbands or boyfriends, they think things like, “Isn’t this nice? What a nice place. I like being dressed up. This is fun.” Men, though, think, “Who’s gonna die? What’s gonna collapse? Who’s gonna attack? Where are the threats coming from?” Generally speaking, a man on the town is a man waiting to get back home, where it’s safe.
5. They live to hear they’ve done well. Women tend to think of men as simple creatures. Rarely do they understand just how right they are. Men like sex; they like food; they understand how wrong it is to confuse the two. But what any man really and truly likes—what makes his bones tingle, and his toes start harmonizing, “I Can See Clearly Now”—is to be told that he’s made his loved ones proud. A woman wanting to please her man doesn’t need to dress up in lingerie. She doesn’t need to prepare him a ham sandwich, or do any of that sort of thing. All she needs to do is give him a hearty pat on the back, and tell him how proud he’s made her. That’ll do ‘er.