29
Sep

The Difference Between Men and Women

Lets say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when theyre driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: Do you realize that, as of tonight, weve been seeing each other for exactly six months?



And then there is silence in the car.



To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe hes been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks Im trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesnt want, or isnt sure of.



And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.



And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, Im not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so Id have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward… I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?



And Roger is thinking: …so that means it was… lets see… February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealers, which means… lemme check the odometer… Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.



And Elaine is thinking: Hes upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe Im reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed-even before I sensed it-that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet thats it. Thats why hes so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. Hes afraid of being rejected.



And Roger is thinking: And Im gonna have them look at the transmission again. I dont care what those morons say, its still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? Its 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.



And Elaine is thinking: Hes angry. And I dont blame him. Id be angry too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I cant help the way I feel. Im just not sure.



And Roger is thinking: Theyll probably say its only a 90-day warranty……..scumbags.



And Elaine is thinking: Maybe Im just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when Im sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.



And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? Ill give them a warranty. Ill take their warranty and stick it right up their…



Roger, Elaine says aloud.



What? says Roger, startled.



Please dont torture yourself like this, she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. Maybe I should never have… Oh God, I feel so… (She breaks down, sobbing.)



What? says Roger.



Im such a fool, Elaine sobs. I mean, I know theres no knight. I really know that. Its silly. Theres no knight, and theres no horse.



Theres no horse? says Roger.



You think Im a fool, dont you? Elaine says.



No! says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.



Its just that… its that I… I need some time, Elaine says.



(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.) Yes, he says.



(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.) Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way? she says.



What way? says Roger.



That way about time, says Elaine.



Oh, says Roger. Yes.



(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)



Thank you, Roger, she says.



Thank you, says Roger.



Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures its better if he doesnt think about it.



The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.



Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaines, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?



And thats the difference between men and women.

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