Have you ever noticed — and I hope I’m not giving anything away, here — that...
[wait for it]
Men and women are really different.
I know, I know. But, give me a chance to explain.
If you pay a woman a compliment on her looks, the …
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If you pay a woman a compliment on her looks, the odds are roughly 112-percent that she will pooh-pooh you, and then she will point out to you what about her appearance she doesn’t like. You see, the mirror in her bathroom is sort of like a circus mirror, which distorts her ability to see reality and draws her eye to things which she doesn’t like.
On the other hand, a man will look in that same mirror—the circus mirror—and see something completely different. No matter what the reality is, most men will see this marvelous thing called “potential.” To borrow a line from the late comedian Richard Jeni, men look in the circus mirror and see somebody who is about 30 pushups away from “total stud-dom.”
There’s also the mirror know as “beer” which, likewise, convinces men of their proximity to stud-dom. But that’s a story for another day.
You see, reality is a funny thing, and we all approach it from a somewhat distorted perspective. And, usually, it’s impossible to know which distortions we’re buying in to when we’re going through it. Let me give you another example — hopefully one less inappropriate and simple-minded.
I have an old friend that I get together with periodically, and, invariably, he will spend the first hour of our conversation talking about how horrible his marriage is — how it’s cold and awkward and boring and on and on and on. Being a family man, I usually try to talk him down and convince him that it’s all worth it and marriages have seasons and blah blah blah. But one time, I was just kinda tired of listening to it, and I said “look, if it’s that bad, have you taken the smart steps to prepare for a divorce?”
He looked at me like I had five heads, each with three eyes and big handle bar mustaches. “Why would I do that?” he said. “I’m really happy!”
His circus mirror, it turns out, wasn’t a distortion of his own — it was the distortion he projected to the world, or at least, to me. It gave me what turned out to be a wildly distorted view of his relationship, which put me in a very strange place vis-à-vis being a good friend to him. Likewise, it led me to believe that my old friend, who was always a pretty happy fellow, was miserable and that his primary operating mode was complaining.
Turns out, none of the above was true, either. But the circus mirror — the distortions we project on the world, either into our own minds or externally — has a self-fulfilling quality. My friend wants me to like his wife, but I will spend every moment of our next meeting looking for signs of the things my friend complains about. And, once a woman goes to the trouble of pointing out her flaws, it’s not very long before that’s what the people around her start to look at, too.
We should have a care not to indulge our distortions. Throw heavy objects through the circus mirror at your soonest convenience. You don’t want those to become reality.
Yes, even your happy delusions, guys. Sorry — you’re probably much further away from “stud-dom” than a mere 30 pushups. Better get started.
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