I’m very envious of those male bonding stories. You know the ones -- those about soldiers during battle, Jack Kerouac wanna-be’s, motorcycling across America or backpacking through Europe,or motocycle gangs like the fictional Sons of Anarchy on FX.
You see, I’m convinced that men are by far the SIMPLE sex. They rose out of that primordial sludge with the single-minded focus of hunting prey. They tuned out the wails of infants, cast off the chills of winter, and set aside the circling of buzzards to either kill the animal they stalked or escape the one stalking them.
This fall football dominates television and the men in my family watch with avid interest. Nothing detracts them from the kickoff or the run to the end zone on that HD wide-screen TV.
It’s the same thing during basketball or baseball season, of course. The same basic instinct that allowed the strongest of mankind to survive their caveman era keeps their minds focused on the basketball game, oblivious to any sensory stimuli outside their narrow circle.
But the nifty thing about men is they get to give those really cool speeches like St. Crispin Day’s Speech from Henry V – “we happy, happy few, we band of brothers.” And they get to pat each other on the ass and sling an arm around a brother’s neck in manly affection.
And here’s the real thing I’m jealous of: men's bonds, almost entirely nonverbal, can be the most powerful ties that bind people together. They transcend love and family, careers and religion.
And the stories, the really great ones, portray those bonds. Shakespeare scholars call it “manly love.” They get to go to war and watch sports events.
Medical science has pretty much determined that women are the stronger sex, regardless of the antiquated notions of many people. Women outlive men; fewer female infants die than male ones. In some villages that still practice the outmoded notion of female infanticide, they have to import brides for their sons. Yeah, women are pretty hardy.
Psychological and sociological studies regarding men and women are interesting, particularly one such study that involved recordings in which the subjects were presented with three separate, unfamiliar stories read aloud simultaneously. They found that the men quickly focused on one of the stories and shut the other two out. The women, however, tried to listen to and comprehend all three stories at the same time. Resulting, as you may imagine, in a lot of headaches for the women!
I mention this because it underscores one of the great differences between men and women and one, I believe, which leads to a great source of contention between the sexes.
When men are engrossed in a project, large or small, their focus is immutable, much like their primordial ancestors hunting prey. If they’re watching football on television and you stomp angrily by three or four times, hoping to get their attention with your not-so-subtle annoyance, they really DON’T notice.
Women, on the other hand, really CAN talk on the telephone, cook dinner, and know precisely the exact moment when a toddler is on the brink of grave mischief.
The crux of romance stories is the relationship, conflict, and reconciliation between a man and a woman. Often the characters appear horribly unsuited to one another or have some basic differences that make their coming together seem nearly impossible. While we may not have such conflicts in our real romance lives, my experience has shown me that there's plenty of drama between men and women, often because of the way they think, approach situations, or react to them.
Do you like male bonding stories? If so, what's one of your favorites?