Recently, I read a post about the lessons women want to teach their daughters about men and their relationships. Many excellent experiences were shared, possibly too many. Then again, little girls are more cerebral than their male counterparts. Little boys require simple instructions: fire bad, truth good, rifles are not telescopes. For the sake of my future son — a hypothetical if ever there were one — I will keep it straightforward and tell him the one thing he needs to know about women. It is something his old man has learned over years and years of wrapping relationships around trees: Listen to the women in your life. Of course, if I had followed my own dad’s example, and just did what he did, which was pay my mother undivided attention when she spoke, I wouldn’t have had to learn things the hard way.Assuming I can convince a woman to welcome my toxic seed, and that she then chooses to allow the love critter to issue forth from between her legs, and that the resulting creature doesn’t have tentacles, or a forked tongue, or a 666 birthmark, and further assuming it doesn’t immediately jump out of her miracle zone and run repeatedly into walls, I will take a moment to impart this simple piece of sage advice: Give the ladies your ears, as well as your heart. Once he is old enough to start lying to me, I will first explain to the adorable brat how babies are made, possibly with the help of holographic dinosaurs. I will then call the tyke over to my hover-toilet, sit him on my robot knee, and tell him that most men never get it. They are too busy bragging, or yapping, or fretting. Listen to a woman, really listen, and she will tell you everything. Her hopes, her fears, the depth of her love for you, and in some cases — this is if a man gets really good at listening — she’ll eventually tell you in her own way about the friend of yours she’s going to bang after the two of you break up.
This is easier said than done for men. It’s almost counter-intuitive to our nature. When we don’t seem to listen, it’s not because we’re not interested in what you’re saying. It’s just that usually when you sit down with us on the couch, after a long day, some of the things rolling around in your head trigger our combat instincts. What most men don’t immediately get is that for women, talking is its own reward. By talking, you are playing a game of Tetris in your head, rearranging all the differently shaped thoughts of your day into a winning order.
But to us, it’s something entirely different. I usually ply in sweeping gender platitudes, but what I’m about to write is super sweep-y and platitude-y, but that does not mean it’s not true. Every guy reading this has had the following experience: His girlfriend comes home, a little upset, and complains about a co-worker. In my case, it was a donkey-knuckle of a boss who, for whatever reason, was coming down harder on her than her incompetent male co-workers. I immediately had the following thoughts, rapid fire: I will rearrange his face, I will pour sugar in his gas tank, I will catapult gasoline-soaked balls of barbwire at him from my ocular cavities while I sip free, umbrella-adorned mai tais at the next office Christmas party. She would complain, and I would butt in with ACTION PLANS. I came off condescending and bossy. My girlfriend at that time was more than capable of dealing with the twerp, and eventually, she did. My desires to solve what I thought were her problems came from a good place. But all I really needed to do was … listen.
When it comes to participating in the carnal activities that, potentially, lead to the siring of offspring, listening is a man’s best friend. Women will whisper, shout, and mumble what it is they need in order to have belly rippling orgasms. Even the most simplistic request is sodden with meaning. A “yes” is not a confirmation; it is a nuanced instruction that says, “Continue what you were just doing, do not stop unless told to. Remember this, because if you keep doing it, I will show you that I remember that time I stroked that place and you went ‘Eeeyyuurrgghh’ and while that’s not really a word, I listen to your body, and grunts, and non-words.”
I won’t be quite so direct with this aspect of my advice to Junior. But a couple decades down the road, while I’m floating in a tube of life-sustaining, nutrient-rich bio-goop and he’s sucking down a stem-cell smoothie, we will wink at each other. “Thanks, Dad,” he’ll say. And I’ll say, “You’re welcome.”
I actually don’t know what I’ll name my currently imaginary progeny. It would have to be manly, a reflection of the poet-lumberjack that is his father’s legend. Maybe I’ll name him Obi-Wan Knievel or Maverick, or Destro (which is short for “Destrolomew”). I’ll combine “Rambo” with the Norse God “Odin.” How does “Rambodin” strike you? Most likely, I’ll just give him the greatest Texas name, my dad’s name, which was Jack. Jack J. DeVore. The “J” will also be for “Jack,” just to hammer the point home. And that kid will listen to all the women in his life.