Fact Finder

I'm continually shocked by how little my wife knows. No sports statistics whatsoever. Not a single date of a major battle -- from any war. The names of drummers of seriously important '70s bands consistently escape her. We drink the same bottles of wine and yet she never seems interested in memorizing the names of chateaus. I sometimes wonder whether we'd just see a bunch of feelings if we opened up her brain.

ORDER OUT OF CASSAVETES

As civilized creatures, it is our primary responsibility to make order out of the chaos of the world, and women are not doing their part. When we see a baseball game, the male brain instantly thinks: Hey, let's gather at 6 a.m. in a law firm conference room and spend 12 hours bidding fake money on players to build fake teams to compete in a fake league. You, meanwhile, are just sitting there enjoying baseball. Or feeling baseball. I have no idea.

From an early age, boys are taught that the world is a dangerous jungle we must conquer. One way to do that is by breaking stuff, shortly followed by the need to set everything on fire. But after second grade, that behavior no longer goes over so well, especially when you're sober and/or in charge of the U.S. military. So the rest of us try to control the chaos of the world by collecting data and knowing every possible thing about a subject: every Who rarity, every Heisman Trophy winner, every John Cassavetes movie (in order), a whole lot of digits of pi. Sometimes we go overboard with all the categorizing, but often what looks insane is indeed necessary. It's a very fine line -- but it's how we organize the world.

What's more, knowing the specs of every Mustang since they were first produced on March 9, 1964, in Dearborn, Michigan, has the added benefit of allowing us to have long discussions about useless facts with other men without mentioning any emotions whatsoever. Generation after generation of men in Philadelphia have managed to carry on conversations at every wedding, funeral, and Mummers Parade without discussing a single thing save the Philadelphia Eagles football team. Which is for the best, since they know that what's actually in a man's heart cannot be expressed safely to other men. This also explains the breaking stuff.

Besides, deep down, we truly believe that if we just try really hard, we can completely understand every detail of the universe. When we kneel in front of the stereo we've taken apart -- screw by screw, Q-tips in hand, silicone spray at the ready -- in an attempt to fix the circuitry and then somehow put it back together, you are witnessing the triumph of the human mind. No, that amplifier will never work again, but we'll be that much closer to fixing the stereo the next time it breaks. We won't be able to fix it then either, but should someone ever figure out human immortality, we will eventually be able to. And we believe, wholeheartedly, that somewhere there's a man kneeling on his floor with Q-tips and silicone spray, working on immortality.

When we quote batting averages with no end in sight, you simply think the Y chromosome is tinged with Asperger's. But it's far more complex than that. Like whales, we communicate in a way you can't understand. When I say, "Paul O'Neill batted .318 between 1993 and 1998," and my buddy responds with "Will Clark had a .303 lifetime average over 15 seasons," what we're really saying is: "My God, we both care about this little blue marble we live on. Even though we're such different people, with different beliefs." We're saying that we are people with passion. Do I leave that conversation still thinking Will Clark is a stiff dork without the heart to win a championship? Sure. But I respect that .303 lifetime. And, more important, I can now quote it to others.

BEAUTY AND THE B-SIDES

I used to think that men and women were basically the same inside, coated with different clothing, cultural expectations, and amounts of body hair. But after my second long-term girlfriend, I realized that lots of women don't know their favorite band's B-sides, or even have favorite bands. The Style section of the New York Times, I've noticed, has absolutely no charts or tables. How do you have any idea of which fashion designers are winning and which ones are losing? This boggles the male mind.

It's not that my lovely wife, Cassandra, isn't anal-retentive and organized. She keeps our files. But does it matter to her that our CDs are categorized by genre, then alphabetized, and then arranged by the year the artist's album came out? Apparently not, given the way she puts them back. In fact, there's periodic talk about throwing them all away, since we only listen to MP3s anyway. Which is not the point. The point is that CDs are things we can categorize by genre, then alphabetize, and then arrange by the year the album came out.

Sometimes this works in your favor. If you tell us you like gerbera daisies, we'll find out everything there is to know about them from the florist, no matter how long it takes. No, you'll never get any other type of flower again, and you'll wish we'd consider another kind. But it'll be too late; you're stuck with gerbera daisies and, we hope, the guy who keeps buying them. Not that we don't worry. Remember when we insisted on helping you buy your car, and the hours of useful, important questions we asked the salesman about the engine and safety features and warranty options? We were so good that you didn't even need us to come with you the next time you bought a car. In fact, you downright insisted on going alone.

We know you think that geeking out on facts prevents us from enjoying anything; that we're so busy memorizing the grape varietals in a Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape that we don't appreciate drinking it. (FYI: syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, cinsault, roussanne, counoise, muscardin, vaccarèse, terret noir, clairette, bourboulenc, picardin, piquepoul.) But we do. We may compare and categorize a lot, but that doesn't mean we don't feel love, anger, lust, and sadness remembering the wine we drank the night you moved in. And it doesn't mean we don't weep (on the inside) when the radio plays that band we heard for the first time when the cool kids in junior high invited us over to listen to albums. It's just that focusing on facts is our way to express those emotions safely. What makes no sense at all is that the only part of our life we don't keep stats, raw data, and Venn diagrams on is also the most important: you. At least not in any way that wouldn't gross you out.
12 Views    
Facebook Facebook Twitter Linkedin Google Pinterest

Related Articles

Refer your 10 female friends! Earn Instant 500