Ten things I’d like to know about men
THERE'S a new book out that I'm dying to read. It's called The Secret Life of Husbands: Everything You Need to Know about the Man in Your Life.
Notwithstanding the egregiously long title, I doubt I'll read it because while I'd love to know the inner workings of a man's mind I don't have time to read 192 pages of man-alysis when the new Jane Harper novel … I mean, The Times's essay on Brexit is beckoning.
While the book is getting great reviews and is reportedly tender and curious rather than a diatribe on the shortcomings of men, what I really want to know about men could be condensed into a cheat-sheet style questionnaire.
Virtually all the men I know are dead set legends who work hard, love their partners, support their kids and make varying attempts to manage their cholesterol levels. But sometimes I wonder if beyond the humour, the footy talk and the devotion to the TV men really do have a secret life we women fail to understand.
So, here's nine things I'd like to know:
1. Do you get fed up with the continuing assumption that it's your responsibility to provide?
Times are changing fast, but I'm often puzzled that the current dialogue focuses on the "opportunities" open to women rather than the inherent fairness of sharing the financial burden which has traditionally fallen to men. Do you ever resent it? Are you like that guy who wrote an open letter to The Guardian about how he wanted his wife to get a job? Or do you quietly like being the primary earner?
2. Do you like weddings?
Presumably you enjoyed your own or you wouldn't have done it, but with nuptials now three-day affairs running into the tens of thousands do you think about what sort of car you might buy with similar money? What were you really thinking as your bride walked down the aisle and did you genuinely like her dress?
3. What do you think about choreplay?
Based on a study that shows couples who share chores have more sex - a concept promoted by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, who tells men to skip buying flowers and instead do a load of laundry. While I'd rather a man hung out the washing because he realised it was a decent thing to do, I'm intrigued to hear what men think. Perhaps you're irked that lawns, gardens and bins seem to fall off the domestic tally?
4. What do you honestly see when you gaze at your own body?
Adonis? Dad bod? Author Liane Moriarty makes the point in her latest novel that women pinch at the flesh of their stomachs with "such brutal self-loathing they left bruises" while husbands fondly pat their own much larger stomachs with "rueful pride". Is this true or do you secretly care more than we know?
5. This fresh in from a (disenchanted) friend …
Why do you hide behind things like fancy cooking or correct dishwasher loading or other useful things which cannot incur criticism when big emotional shit needs sorting out? Do you think it passes for camouflage?
6. If there were any doubt men have secret lives, model Cindy Crawford recently revealed that her husband Rande Gerber is very fussy about "cushion density". Upon hearing this do you think:
A: What a posh git! Must drink too much of his own brand of fancy tequila.
B: Actually, cushion density is an essential consideration in both the aesthetics and function of harmonious living spaces.
C: What is the point of cushions?
7. Do you ever feel lonely?
We used to lose men to wars. Now we lose them to suicide. Do you envy the way in which women operate as emotional ballast for each other? Or is there some kind of secret soldering going on in all that golf/fishing/surfing/snowboarding/motorbiking/pub-going you do together.
8. Why do so many of you let your underwear get into such a deleterious state?
You know there is such a thing as online shopping. Some sites even deliver the next day. You could set up a biannual order for undies and shaving paraphernalia.
9. Why do you get grumpy?
The brilliant Nick Hornby in his new show State of the Union articulates male malaise when Louise (Rosamund Pike) asks Tom (Chris O'Dowd) why he's crusty before his time. "I think 40 is the new 30 except you have to go to the gym more," she says. "You think that 44 is like 65 except your children are younger. C'mon where's your fight?" Genuinely, we want to know why. Has life disappointed you? Are you depressed? Or just simply worn out?
10. At the risk of making belittling generalisations about your preferred hobbies, if you had to relinquish one of the following for the rest of your life which would it be?
Telly, blow jobs or beer?
Excellent. That's it. Answers on a postcard (or via email) please.