21 July 2010

Garden Chat

Yesterday a former student of mine and I met up for the last time here in Cambridge and went to the King's College Gardens to chat. In the course of the conversation we discovered that in both our experiences there is one thing that men and boys do not like to do, or perhaps simply do not do very well, and that is discuss changes in advance.

I will give you two quick examples from my own life. When Irishboyfriend was taking me back to Ireland to meet his family, he had no interest in discussing what might happen or what it might be like - this means that he displayed no discernible interest in dealing with some topics that, when I finally brought them up, turned out to be quite significant to deal with (I am Jewish. Should I mention it? Better not. I had been divorced. Could I mention it? NO). I don't mean he made snide comments about how these topics weren't important, or that when I tried to ask questions about what it would be like he was cutting; I mean it simply seemed never to occur to him that such a conversation could be relevant or useful. Similarly, although at a different level, both times that Dr. Higher and I moved house, he didn't start packing his stuff until a couple of days before - and I don't mean "his stuff" in the sense of "his clothes"; I mean "his stuff" in the sense of his many many books and desk belongings, etc. Moreover, in all my recollection I cannot think of one man I've known who has responded to a parting in the offing (which is how this topic came up, because my student has a boyfriend she must part from in a few days) by saying, "Okay, let me get your e-mail now, a week before you go, so I don't forget," or, "Right. Let's talk about how we might keep this friendship alive after you're gone." Conversely, all the women I know do at least some form of this.

This is weird. Are these men just putting things off because they don't want to think about them? Are they hopeless judges of time, so they always imagine there's more time than there actually is? Or do they simply have a ranking system in which change - which in my experience for everyone ends up being at least in part anxiety-provoking and concerning - is not concerning or does not register until it's too late? Which perhaps is another way of saying, Are men not very good at seeing ahead and guessing consequences and/or future possibilities? Which is possible, I suppose, but seems like a strange kind of life training, even if you take into account that the majority of men are raised to be more self-centred than the majority of women.

I think I will have to ask some men about this. Sometime in the future. Hahahaha.

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