If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, where are gay men from? Let’s avoid the obvious potty-mouth “Uranus” answer, shall we? Like most self-help books, the 1992 best seller took a broad swipe and ended up stereo-typing genders. I should probably preface my comments by saying that I never actually read the book. But Wikipedia does a pretty good job of summarizing. The premise is that men and women communicate differently, as if they were from different planets. Men grunt, retreat to their man caves and consider taking out the trash to be huge displays of affection. While women whine about their feelings and are like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction: I will not be ignored, Dan! I’m sure there were some witty observations, funny anecdotes and nice workshops, but that’s all you really need to know about the book. The only truth is that everyone, EVERYONE is from different planets.
Paul and I are both men, but we communicate as if we speak different languages. Over the years I have figured out about 50% of his language. Throw in some alcohol and there is less than a fifty-fifty chance that I am going to understand Paul-speak.
The Eskimos have eighteen different words for snow. Paul is like an Eskimo in reverse, using one word to describe eighteen. That word is “little”. He uses it constantly. It can mean cute: as in “Look at your little shorts!” or it can mean low-calorie: as in “I had a little salad.” But sometimes he throws it together with cute for a more nuanced effect “There is a cute little restaurant over there.”, which actually gets me confused, because I’m not sure if it is a “cute- cute” restaurant or a low-calorie restaurant, or really a small restaurant.
Paul: “I read your little blog post.” Translation: (It is too early in the conversation to figure out the meaning of this “little” yet, we will translate the rest before deciphering.)
Me: “Did you like it?” Translation: “I need validation!”
Paul: “Very cute.” Translation: “It sucked.” (Intonation and brevity are key here. Also, we can now decipher the first “little” to mean “trivial”)
Paul: “OK, why don’t you go to bed and I’ll talk to you in the morning.” Translation: “I really don’t want to talk about this anymore. Call me when you’re not being such an ass.”
Me: “OK. Love you.” Translation: “I may not like you right now, but I love you.”
Paul: “Love you too” Translation: “Ditto.”