the tribe . . .

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Have you ever wondered about the difference between men and women in terms of how they interact with the world and with each other? Ever since that seminal book, “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus,” was published over twenty years ago, contemporary life has altered and changed (including more women in the workplace and greater sharing of household/childcare by men.) Or, maybe not so much.

My husband, G., has a network of men who work together on a daily or weekly basis, have known each other, some for decades and have one trait in common. They don’t talk about anything personal to each other: not when a family member dies, not when they’re going in for serious surgery, not when they lose a job, don’t have enough money, or their refrigerator dies. They just don’t do it much. I’m amazed when I hear this because women talk about these kinds of things, even with other women that they don’t even know very well! Men seem to have a shorthand code about what they’re willing to talk about. It seems that the most meaningful way to get through to a man is to ask him to do something to help you. Usually, though, you just want him to listen, and not to do anything. Nor do you want him to give you advice about what to do. Usually, he wants to fix it, not listen to a problem. Men are hunters, trackers and warriors. It’s in their gene pool, their DNA, whatever it is, it seems to be the most powerful trait that drives them and makes them tick.

That being said, I also want to tell you about something else that happened yesterday that made me think about men as belonging to a tribe. To make a long story short, I was looking at a 2005 Subaru Outback to buy yesterday as a replacement for my 2003 car that has over 150,000 miles on it. The fellow, Joe, who drove the car over to have it inspected by my mechanic was young, affable and easy going. We talked about family (he has a four year old) and sports, mostly. He thinks that Bill Belichick will keep Tim Tebow for awhile just to show the world that he can turn him into a great quarterback by the time Tom Brady retires in a few years.

Back at the dealership, I met the Sales General Manager, a brisk fellow who was willing to negotiate the selling price on the car, but then added up a laundry list of other costs: sales tax, dealer fee (?); registry costs, new plates, etc. etc. As I waited for the numbers to be run, I asked Joe if he was related to the GM because they joked around as though they were. “No,” he said, “but I get teased for being a bad influence.” It turns out that Joe introduced the GM and then the car dealer staff to join him for chicken wings (25 cents/wing) after work 8 p.m. on Monday nights to watch football games on the big screen at a neighboring restaurant/bar.

The GM returned with the paperwork and I casually mentioned something about “chicken wings.” He spun around and said, “Who told you that? We don’t even tell our wives about chicken wings!” and when I asked him what they told their wives, he said, “We just tell them that we had to work late.”

Okay. So a tribe of men go out for chicken wings to watch Monday night football after work. No big deal. Except that this is what they do on their own. And they don’t TALK about it to anyone, especially their wives!

See what I mean?