Taking It Personally: Differences Between Men and Women

I hope you’re not too surprised I noticed

Many continue to deny it, but there are differences between men and women and they show up in what seem at first to be strange ways. 

After reading that last sentence, readers are now split between “Duh” and “This guy is a total jerk.”  But hear me out …

For instance, when I first got my netbook PC, I noticed that, many times, as I was using it in public a woman would walk up and start the conversation with “That looks cute” and then ask to try it. One morning, I was in the Lexington Public Office Building, by which I mean the near , and in less than 20 minutes three women came up, told me the netbook looked “cute” and tried it out. As I was leaving, another patron said to me “I’m curious—have you just discovered an alternative to dogs and babies for meeting women?”

Oh guys came up, too, but then they would usually make some disparaging comment about size or perceived lack of power. Given that this publication is family-friendly, I will not explore this approach further, nor will I extend the argument to the cars driven by various people.

My Boy Scouts were rock climbing at Rumney in New Hampshire. I was late to arrive and, as my wife and I slogged up the trail to the most visible route called the Parking Lot Wall, I noticed that there was a mix of all male and all female groups. It didn’t take long to see that the two genders had a different approach to things, though.

Women were encouraging to each other. “Oh, excellent hold Julie!”  “You almost had it that time, Kim.” “Nice effort, Michelle!”

Men, on the other hand, were a bit more critical. “You call that a hold, Jack?”  “Good grief—my hamster could do better!”  “You might as well fall now, because you will eventually.”

And so it was in the Center recently. I had just come out of , feeling all warm and wonderful because my lost debit card had been replaced in just two business days instead of the 7-14 quoted by just about every institution these days. Of course, the PIN is sent later, which extends the agony of being without a card, but Brookline was able to give me a new PIN immediately.

It all turned ugly a couple of minutes later.

As I walked down the street heading for the Waltham Street crosswalk, my toe hit a sunken brick. Ooops! Crash! I tried to roll so I could take the fall on my backside and shoulder, but the granite edging near the police booth was coming up fast, and that route looked like a broken shoulder, so I just went down on my side with my thigh landing across that edging.  The Kindle in my backpack was unharmed, but I was left with a bloody ankle, a very bloody and banged-up elbow, a scraped forearm, and a thigh that hurt soooooo much.

There were several people around. Guys looked quickly and turned away. Several women, however, immediately came over, asked if I was OK, and checked me out for any really serious damage.

I know—some of you are about to use that women-expected-to-be-caregivers line. It might even be true at some level. But when I spotted a snake in the Home Depot a few months ago (I mean actually inside the store) the people who stepped forward to identify it and remove it from the store without killing it were pretty much equally split between men and women. So I have to say that women have overcome many cultural stereotypes and may well be, at this point, more advanced culturally than men.

I am healing nicely, by the way.

After two days of severe pain with no sleep at night, and then several days when I had trouble walking more than a few steps, I now have only a couple of bandages over raw spots, a slight limp, and an aversion to brick. Oh, yes, and a couple of sympathy emails from guys who were sitting in and saw me fall. I don’t fault their lack of response. I mean—you can help a guy lying on the sidewalk or Tweet about it to your friends. Even I know which is more important.

Natalie, the office manager for a company I work for now and then, said I would have to modify my thesis about only women coming to help. It is her opinion that guys will respond if the victim is a woman, if she isn’t injured too badly, and if she is “hot.” Hot is Natalie’s word.

Mark Twain cautioned us about generalities when he said, "All generalizations are false, including this one." Still, I am going to go out on a limb and say that when some trouble befalls me, I hope there are at least a few women in the crowd.

I just wish that they would stop calling me “Sir” …  It sounds so … well … old …


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