I never read the bestselling book Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus. Actually, I did not have to read it. You see, I took a speed reading and study habits course in college once and learned that one does not have to read every word of a text to learn the overall content of it. Usually the titles, headers and the first line of every paragraph are sufficient. In the case of this particular book, the title itself was enough. From it, I knew exactly what the author was going to say and I agreed with every word.
Published 6:50 am Monday, June 30, 2003
Effective communication has always been one of the world's greatest challenges. Two friends who grow up together and have all things in common can still find difficulty communicating. Throw into the mix different languages, different cultures, different attitudes and experiences, and different genders and we have the makings of alphabet soup and a lot of misunderstandings.
And that's just humans! To facilitate the administration of an orderly society, it is often necessary for humans to communicate with other species. A farmer, for example, must know how to communicate with his mule. Neither can cowboys do all that fancy riding they do without a well-trained horse with whom they are constantly communicating. Then there's the family dog who barks when he needs to get out and we know immediately to go open the door for him. The list goes on and on.
Further, there is evidence that inanimate life has communication capabilities too. Studies have indicated that plants respond to different kinds of music and many perfectly sane people swear that talking to their flowers makes them healthier and happier. Moses parted the Red Sea by commanding the waters to part, did he not? If the Red Sea was not capable of hearing and understanding Moses' command, then what other option is left to consider?
It would seem that good communication is the key to harmony among all God's creatures and creations and that communication can be achieved on some level in even the most unlikely scenarios if we only work at it hard enough. Yet, nowhere on God's good earth is communication more important, yet more difficult, than communication between men and women. There can be no doubt that men and women see many things entirely differently and therefore have trouble communicating on these matters.
In the early cowboy movies, the hero always rode off into the sunset on his magnificent steed and waved goodbye to his lady love back on the front porch. I cannot imagine Hopalong Cassidy riding off in a carriage with his girlfriend and leaving Old Topper behind in the corral. What cowboy, what man, would leave his beloved horse for a woman?
Cowboys roamed the countryside assisting damsels in distress, stopped and camped where they wanted to under the big open skies, had grisly old toothless sidekicks hanging about them all the time, and drank whiskey straight out of the bottle. They also had extra pocket money to spend on fancy saddles and two-gun holster sets with pearl handled pistols. And when the cowboy sold a herd of cows, he put the whole wad in his pocket and bought drinks for all his friends across the street at the saloon. Cowboys did not have to rush home and hand all the loot over to their wives. Cowboys did not have wives. Cowboys were happy men. That's why they were always riding along singing happy songs. By golly, cowboys were happy!
Now contrast the cowboy with the early pioneer, an overworked, haggard man in overalls with no personal friends, an ugly wife who nagged at him all the time, and an old double-barreled shotgun over the fireplace that misfired half the time.
When the farmer rode into town to beg the evil banker for some more time on his farm loan, he rode an old clumsy red plow horse with streaks of white hair where the wagon harness fit. When the farmer walked into the bank, he humbly carried his battered, sweat-stained felt hat in his hand, not tilted rakishly to the back of his head like the cowboy.
I'm just indulging myself in a bit of exaggeration and fantasy here, of course. The Old West is history now and all the open range land is fenced in. The cowboys are all fenced in, too. There are no cowboys like Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry and Range Rider, and never has been.
Yet, the idea of the cowboy has captured the imagination of men and boys alike for over 100 years. Many modern Hollywood movie actors say that their dream and the ultimate role to play, is the role of a western hero.
There is a little cowboy in every man. Men don't necessarily want to be cowboys all the time, but like little boys, every man needs some boots and spurs and a hat and a silver-belt buckle; and every man needs to be let out every now and then to play cowboys.
Hear me now! I am speaking figuratively. To be precise, not every man wants to be a cowboy, but men do have an inherent need to play at something they love. Some men love hunting and fishing; some love motorcycles and cars; some love computers; and some still love horses and cowboys. Every man is a little boy in a grown-up suit. To a man, playing with his toys is a natural, compelling thing to do. All the men back on planet Mars do this!
The women on planet Venus, however, cannot possibly understand this manly peculiarity. At best they can only recognize it, acknowledge it, and trustingly indulge it.
Foolish Venus women view a man's other love interests as a threat to their own well-being and are no less jealous of the time their man spends with his computer, his motorcycle, or his horse than they would be if he were spending his time in bed with another woman. Wise Venus women, however, know the difference.
They know that men and boys are going to play because men are from Mars and that's what men do on Mars. If a man does not have any toys, he will find something else to play with, perhaps a serpent. You can train a dog, but you can never train a male dog to quit being a male dog.