My “Man Brain” and I get into enough trouble on our own as it is; we don’t need any assistance with digging ourselves deeper into any holes of disapproval, thank you very much. Yet, at a recent Brunch with friends, I found myself in the glaring spotlight of unpopularity with the Momttendance because of a comment about a younger woman. Even worse, the “I just don’t understand the ‘Man Brain’ sometimes” comment about me came from a woman whom I had just met! But, what was worse than the even worse, was the comment that got me into trouble wasn’t even made by me- it was uttered by my WIFE!
WTF!? and how is THAT fair?
We were all innocently enjoying our bagels and cream cheese when the topic of conversation shifted to rhinoplasty, (as I suspect it does at your Sunday Brunches once the strawberries are served). I did my part by immediately restraining my “Man Brain” from turning the nose job convo into a “why not also find employment for her boobs” joke.
The obvious first pivot was Barbra Streisand and how she has never had any plastic surgery, at least not on the old schnozzle. I eventually commented on two women whom I admire for their acting talents and who were both inclined to have “work” done on said snouts. The two women: Jennifer Grey, (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”), and Ashley Tisdale, (“High School Musical”). The opinion I expressed was that: 1) they were beautiful prior to changing their appearance; and 2) they weren’t as funny after the bandages came off. I admitted that the reason they were no longer funny might be a result of them being cast in different kinds of roles post nip/tuck. But, I’m convinced that because they became more focused on their sex appeal than their banana peel, they lost the funny.
So far: no aneurisms of the “Man Brain” that I was going to have to apologize for later. I was being mature and complimentary, and we were all having a honker of a good time.
Here’s where things took a nasty turn, like the crooked bridge of a seasoned boxer, or hockey goon. Jennifer Grey can be considered a contemporary of mine, as “Ferris” was a coming of age movie for the both of us. Ashley Tisdale is familiar to me because I’m the father of young kids who grew up watching her in “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody”. As a parent, you end up watching enough snippets of your kids’ shows over time that you acquire a passive familiarity. The characters played by Tisdale were closer to my kids’ contemporaries, as she was 20 when she started playing Maddie on The Suite Life. That’s why, remembering how I’d chuckle watching Tisdale’s Maddie and Sharpay, it came across as creepy when my wife chimed in at Brunch with, “you had a little crush on her”.
My wife knew that by “crush” what she meant was that I was merely fond of Tisdale’s work as a comedic actress. Sure, I thought she was cute; in the same way Mom’s think Justin Bieber, or Zac Efron are “cuties”. The Momnipresence at the kitchen island, however, had no context for her comment, and I was thrust into the critical arena of head-shaking, eye rolling, Wifepugnancy; my “Man Brain” and I innocently vilified for “crushing” on a younger woman.
I do understand why they jumped to conclusions about me without knowing the whole backstory. The pattern of questionable male behaviour is timeless and some examples of sheMANigans are even scientifically studied. In 2014, the British Medical Journal published a study on the hypothesis that men not only take far more risks than women, but far more senseless risks, which the BMJ attributed to the “Male Idiot Theory”, (MIT).
This was the first systematic analysis on sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour, which found evidence that, indeed, the reason men are more prone to injury and death is because they, “are idiots and idiots do stupid things”. It’s also true that cultural and socioeconomical factors can, in part, explain why, according to hospital emergency departments and mortality stats, men are far more likely than women to experience accidental and sporting injuries, as well as fatal traffic collisions.
But, the behaviour that makes men worthy candidates of idiocy and winning such honours as a Darwin Award, (e.g. man dragged to death by hitching a shopping cart to the back of a train), doesn’t necessarily included the more casual “Man Brain” transgressions being attacked at a Sunday Brunch.
It’s true that my “Man Brain” has a mind of its own. That’s why, despite almost two decades of empirical evidence that would suggest otherwise, it convinces me that my post-shower, tighty whitie pose-down will someday lead to a response from my wife other than, “Oooooooohhhhhhh my God; put some clothes on!”. She’s right to be stupefied by my relentlessness. In my defense, however, when the Brunch chit-chat is progressing peacefully, I would hope that my wife would be the last person to hitch my buggy to the back of a moving train by sticking her nose into it.
Like I said at the outset, since we manage to get ourselves into enough trouble, let us worry about digging the trenches of displeasure on our own. In advance of any of my imminent Manblunders, please excuse my “Man Brain” and me; we have to go practice our pose-down.