Thursday, 3 September 2009

Women Talk

Disclaimer: I have already been informed that this is probably one of the worst pieces I've ever written, but feel free to pile it on. Oh, & any resemblances the characters in this article may bear to specific REAL people (beside myself) are a pure coincidence of stereotype. (Full disclaimer coming in a future post.)

We have a small dining room in our kitchen so it often happens that I’m doing the lunch dishes while the girls have their tea/coffee time &, especially when we have other girl visitors, the girl-talk conversation INEVITABLY wonders to a conference of pregnancy/childbirth testimonials. It’s like a time of feminine solidarity, a bonding activity that brings together women of all ages & walks of life & unites them around this common adventure that they, either have or yet will, embark upon toward the propagation of humanity.

Now I’m not one of those guys that turn green & leave the room at the mention of…you know, mucus plugs, bloody tampons, un-dilated cervix' & tearing... To the contrary, as long as it’s not housewife gossip & soap operas, I find MOST forms of girl talk quite fascinating because you get to hear how girls relate to other girls (it’s almost educational). And honestly, what girl TRIES to make herself sound grosser than she HAS to be in her own story? Truth be told, I’d sooner overhear that than a two hour discussion on cars & sports.

Now, at first I used to think it was normal & natural that if you’ve spent nine months with a perfect stranger in your tummy & then spent the better part of a day squeezing it out of a hole that was pretty much just designed for sticking things INTO, you WOULD have a tendency to want to talk about it a lot at any opportunity & to anyone who will listen. Granted.

But, you know, you do lunch dishes often enough & you start noticing strange conversational patterns recurring. For example, in most NORMAL conversations the comments are triggered by the previous comments, right? Whether it’s contradicting it or agreeing, answering or denying, adding information or adjusting it with a different objective, every contribution is built on the preceding ones, & we call it a conversation.

NOT SO with the preggy talk, no. When mothers converse (or should we say “air their collective experiences”) one of them will go on for as long as seems polite & then let the next girl have a go & so on. And when it’s her turn again she’ll simply continue her story where she left off, like episodes of a TV series that have nothing to do with the other series other than sharing air time on your TV. At least that’s how it SUPPOSED to work! Cuz when one of them ACCIDENTLY slips back into a normal conversational pattern (& some of them do that a lot), her contribution is immediately resented & she won’t get invited to tea next time.


For example, if girl number three says, “I was in labour for a whole day!” & then girl number one or two (who just HAD their turn) adds, in a normal conversational manner, “Oh that must have been terrible, I was in labour for 36 hours, so I know how it feels…” the unspoken energy in the room will be “Hey, what’s with that? Despite the shroud of sympathetic pleasantry, you’re just cutting in the queue to trump MY story with your extra 8 hours & undermine my degree of martyrdom! Wh…why would you do that? Why?”

Not that it actually MATTERS because, according to my theory (which is still in the refining stage), they’re not even actually LISTENING to the other women’s story. No, while ONE of them is talking, what the rest are ACTUALLY doing is keeping tabs on the windows in the conversation. You know what I mean? When is the appropriate time to cut off the current speaker & who’s turn is it to do so? Does the one speaking feel that she is getting sufficient respect & support out of our time together or should we ask little questions about her story to show interest & help her feel that it’s all about her?

It’s a delicate balance that many men may never understand or fully appreciate, but it serves a double purpose. Firstly, not listening to the other’s stories allows them, as I said, to concentrate on making this time satisfying & mutually rewarding for all the pain, nausea & sacrifice that has wrenched each of these women out of the cocoon of girlhood into motherhood through one or more traumatizing experiences. Secondly, if you KNOW the other girls aren’t listening to your story, well then it means it’ll be JUST as exciting when you get to tell it to them again tomorrow.

But that's just a dishwasher's theory.


Lisa said...

Mike I must say you're just that good...and right!!! you just know our species all too well don't you? loved your piece, keep writing!...:P

esty said...

this was both brilliant and embarassingly true.
Good for you for being the one to listen

Marianne said...

haha yes, even if the other women don't hear story, theres always that faithful dishwasher. Just shows how important it is to get your stories out there..its never a wasted effort.

Marianne said...

I love your blog!

Heather said...

I am certainly that dishwasher..went to a BBQ the other day and five minutes was enough to remind me why I categorically avoid them - at every turn there was a woman with a baby (not even necessarily her own) having a very soft-spoken, serious conversation about diaper brands and napping schedules and spit-up.
I usually retreat to the random room that hides the uncomfortable menfolk...and the beer :)

BladeMaster said...

excellent piece micheal and a lot of truth there to. keep it up man

Myki, Gabriel, and munchkins said...

So right on! I'm definitely one of those types of women ... haha!

Jacky Gallo said...

hi there and I totally agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Haha! That's just how it plays out in my head.

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