I propose to speak for all men, an admittedly a dangerous project, since we are all different: different height, hair color, I.Q., what kind of car we drive, how much less attractive we are than Brad Pitt. Except for the last one, those differences are minor in the eyes of the women in our lives.
We do have one thing in common. We resist watching chick flicks with you, no matter how much you bat your eyes or purse your lips; in other words, no matter how much you try to look like Angela Jollie. You want us to watch with you, cry with you, laugh with you. We want to know if NASCAR is on.
You might, if you wish, call us shallow. You’ll get no complaints from us. Shallow is something we can live with — as long as you don’t ask us to watch some three hanky tear-jerker that Oprah recommended.
There are any number of painful tasks we’d readily volunteer for rather than watch a chick flick with you:
Run that marathon this weekend? It’s Tuesday, right? That gives me three days to get in shape. Sure, I’ll start throwing up at mile five, but that’s part of the appeal of marathons, right?
Get a tooth drilled without Novocain? Just say no to drugs. I’m told you pass out eventually.
Sit down with you in the living room with a bag of Orville Redenbacher and put Sleepless in Seattle in the VCR? Won’t happen.
It’s not that we’re bored or embarrassed, or because most chick flicks are about commitment instead of sex. Let’s face it, Sex and the City III is just plain bait and switch. And the opening wedding scene is enough to make most men wary of weddings for years, even with the promise of an open bar. We’re not even afraid to cry. We all watched Old Yeller in fourth grade and blubbered like babies. Crying when that kid has to shoot his own dog is male bonding at its best, at least as good as it gets in fourth grade. Sure, most of us insisted we were too cool for such things by fifth grade.
Here’s the real reason we won’t join you for two hours of hankie twisting. (And yes, wouldn’t you have guessed it, we’re going to blame it on you.) The one thing that all men know, if only instinctively, is that a woman wants a man who can cry, but doesn’t want one who actually does, at least in front of her. You want to look over at us at the end of An Affair to Remember and see us bravely fighting back the tears, deep wells of emotion flashing across our face, but not flowing down our cheeks. You want to be able to say to your girl friends, “He tries to act like he doesn’t care. But you should see his face while we watch Titanic, even after the fifth time.”
To fight back (not against you, against the tears), we make comments like “That girl, the one who’s dying of cancer, is hot for a bald chick.” Or we yell “You tell her Rhett!” as Clark Gable walks out at the end of Gone With the Wind. We can’t help ourselves, even though we know those jokes will result in . . . nothing. If we’re married, a terse “Good night” as you roll away from us in bed. If we’re dating, a handshake as you shuffle us out the door. We were expecting . . . something else. That’s why we agreed to watch the chick flick with you in the first place.
Sure, we’re shallow. We admit it. You’re looking for deep wells of emotion; we know it’s safer in the shallow water. Occasionally, if we’re lucky, we convince you that still water runs deep. And if not, we hope we can convince you that if we have to watch yet another chick flick, 27 Dresses might be preferable to Last Song. What guy wouldn’t want to watch Katherine Heigl change clothes in the back of a taxi? If that makes us shallow, we can live with it.