Book club is here today. Good books, goood food and Sally’s rummy Xmas egg nog never fails to pack ’em in.
Over twenty women are here today not counting the kids. And I saw at least three of them! I had a chance to say ‘hello’ before being banished to the back room but saw two of the little ones – still at the crawling stage. Two little boys. Each with a different set of parents, of course. None of the parents looks even remotely alike. The two kids look like twins! It’s amazing! I swear to God, if they were dressed the same, the moms could easily take either one home and never know.
‘Course, it could just be me……?
I was offering to drop my drawers to show — anyone interested – the nasty bruise I was sportin’ but no one took me up on it. Most pretended they didn’t hear me. Wouldn’t look me in the eye! That was when I was sent to my room. I was not to be part of the gathering.
Women do this kind of thing. You know….gathering? It is usually associated with book club but they are inclined this way all the time. Potlucks, school play-cum-lunch, community work days where lunch is made. It is pretty neat. They all gather and chat and eat and cluck and scratch. Buk, buk, ba-awk! Wandering around the house. Smiling. Bobbing their heads. Saying nice things to each other. (Yes, Sal saw that reference to clucking and glared darkly at me. But it passed the censor!?)
It is all kinda weird.
Don’t get me wrong. Please. I like the gathering thing. And I respect it no end. Very nice. Good stuff. Really good stuff. Keeps the community together and all that. The women out here are the glue for all that. Regardless of how they might regard one another, they treat each other nicely and with consideration and respect. It is very nice. Lovely. Men just aren’t like that.
I guess some men are. Rotarians, maybe. Oddfellows, perhaps? But not the ones I hang with and, to be frank, I don’t really hang with any. I like a few guys, of course. And a few like me. We nod at each other. From a distance. Twice a year. Maybe three times if the social calendar is a busy one. That seems to be enough. Anything more is, well, who knows…..? There never is more! Men just don’t seem to ‘hang out’ unless there is a reason and, even if there is a good reason, we usually have more good reasons to keep it short.
“Táin’t no reason we can’t wrap this up in under three hours. Anything more than that is relationship building and I just came here for the building, not the relationship. Now pass the hammer and get outta my way!”
My friend, J, feels that way (I am ‘quoting’ him above) about community activities, dinner parties, weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs. Three hours is the limit for just about anything.
I didn’t use to be that way but, I confess, I am getting there. Never been one for chit-chat even at the height of my most gregarious stage. If I am gonna talk, I want it to be a significant conversation. Something real. I learn something or else I teach something. I listen or you do. This back-and-forth thing, and; “how do you feel about that?”, well, I just don’t have the patience for it anymore. I am all business.
The first ten seconds of any encounter, I have noticed, is the best ten seconds for cracking stupid jokes. The goofier the better. I like to drop a few real dopey ones quick-like. Cracks me up.
But, after that…..? Well, my contribution has been spent and the 3-hour clock starts.