It goes back to my youthful West Dem days in the 1950s: with no TV or CDs or Facebook, I found laughter in behaviours around me, in characters I’ve mentioned before, such as ‘Four Foot’ and ‘Big Os’, and the shopkeeper Tony Vieira at my aunts’ shop at Hague Front. With that background, it was a natural segue for me into humourous songs – ‘I Want to be a Puppy’; ‘It’s Traditional’; ‘You Can’t Get’; ‘Women in Love’; ‘Copycats’; ‘Postpone’, etc – and, from that, into learning the value of humour in coping with life’s trials.  In the highly problematic area of male-female relations, for example, applying a sense of humour to the issues can often bring some measure of relief, if not calm, to the vexations.  Albeit unsolicited, I therefore offer today a calypsonian approach to the ladies on lessening these conflicts by understanding men better, and I also hope that, after reading this, some perceptive lady will offer the much needed ‘Understanding Women’ response. (I am sure the editor will run it.)

Basic research reveals that scientists have discovered approximately 100 gender differences in the brain, and therapists emphasize the importance of these differences in how the range of behaviours differs between the sexes.  You can read about these differences online at your leisure; my remit here is the non-scientific but proven practical calypsonian view of the issue based on several years of intense confrontation and observation in the school of personal relations, leading to what I would cautiously describe as a practical take on helping to lessen tensions between the sexes. Since some psychologists warn of the unshakeable positions lodged in the male brain, I am addressing my suggestions to the female sector where we are told more flexibility is possible. Note that there are certain issues where my only suggestion is acceptance – dealing with the truth, even if it’s another man in the bedroom, is the mark of the true calypsonian. To the ladies, therefore, these are my proposals, sincerely offered in the spirit of reducing the degree of cuss-down and walk-out between men and women.  To begin with, some general recommendations for comity:

As much as possible, ladies, try to be specific with the guys. Do not dance around an issue.  Do not drop hints in the hope that we will pick them up and get the topic going.  Don’t, for instance, leave four-colour new-car brochures casually placed on the sofa; rather, introduce the idea in plain language that even the yard-man can understand; that way you may get the car. Hints give men the option of not getting the hint; we can’t ignore a clear statement. As the Trinis would put it, “Come straight or don’t come at all.”

Stay in your area of expertise; don’t wander.  If you have a project in the house, you need to choose between telling us what you want done and telling us how to do it, not both. So if you ask the man to repair the broken door, don’t lurk around afterwards suggesting purple-heart instead of pine, or three coats of poly instead of two. If you’re so good at repairing the damned door, why aren’t you doing it yourself?

There are exceptions to this one, but believe me: most men are not caught up in fashion trends or the popular colour of the day.  Our fascination is watching MMA on the tube where people try to choke each other into submission. Fashion? We’re wearing the same shoes we wore last year. So if we go to some social gathering, don’t ask me a week later to remember some woman by the colour of the dress she was wearing. I don’t remember what colour dress you wore yesterday.  And while we’re on the subject, men see in only a few basic colours – black, blue, yellow, green, brown, etc.  To be specific, pumpkin is something you cook; for us, it is not a colour; neither is avocado.  Think of it this way:  would you buy a pumpkin car, or an avocado one? See what I mean?

Yes there are physical differences, so the toilet seat presents problems – women always need it down, guys sometimes need it up – but it would help avoid all those clashes if you just recognise that all toilet seats come with a hinge; so if it’s up, don’t make a speech; just put it down, and away you go.  When I come in and it’s down, I don’t yell at you; I put it up. The hinge is an amazing invention – created by a woman, I suspect – it works both ways.

Here’s another suggestion: When we finish a job in the house, don’t immediately propose three other projects before you say thanks for the completed one.  I’m standing there, wincing with a cut where the chisel caught me, or with an aching back from bending over all day, and you’re blind to the finished job I’m so proud of; you’re already consigning me to more work before I recover from this one.  For your next project, call the contractor yourself and pay him from your GRA refund.

Watching TV, if you have only one set, can wreck a relationship; there needs to be blanket acceptance on both sides.  Women must recognise that what appears to be mindless, repetitious sports, like cricket, where the game today looks just like the one yesterday, nothing much happens, and it ends in a tame draw, is a male ritual based on blind obsession.  What you consider boring is utterly fascinating for us. We will stand around the water cooler at the office in the morning arguing fiercely whether Shiv was out to an almost invisible snick or not; veins in the neck bulge; fists are clenched; it’s more important than Trump’s next wacky move.  Okay, it’s not logical.  Neither is it logical for you to be continually engrossed with a soap opera that has you crying your eyes out, week after week.  Leave us to our cricket, we’ll shut up when you cry.

In closing, three subtle but important points:

  1. When we have to go out socially, whatever you choose to wear is okay with us…well, hold on here: provided of course that the essential areas are properly covered. Don’t be coy by asking what the “essential areas” are; you’re an expert in that field; yesterday you pointed out the curvaceous young thing at Giftland who was showing too much.
  2. If you have a problem, don’t come to me asking for both a solution as well as sympathy. I’m only a man, I have my limitations; there is only one Roger Federer. In time I will work out a solution; in the interim, call up your favourite cousin for the sympathy; the two of you can sit together and cry at the soap opera.
  3. Men will forget a birthday or an anniversary; it’s brain fog – we apologise; it happens; like when you forget which drawer my socks should go into. It’s not a national calamity – it won’t bring the government down. Believe me, we feel badly about it, but we all have our lapses; I forget your anniversary, you forget to check the oil level in the car or to put back the spanner after you use it.

Finally, I’m not expecting that my suggestions will eliminate all the male-female tensions, but I trust that a little humour will at least leave us seeing how ridiculous we both can be.

Happy anniversary, ladies…whenever it is.

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