by Steve Liddick
When I was growing up, all efforts were made to keep the boys separate from the girls. At my elementary school there were even separate entrances for each. The girls couldn’t play with the boys on the segregated playground’s pickup softball teams. They might skin a knee or something awful like that.
It went on like that until high school. By that time separateness was pretty well established.
Adolescent boys had buddies, pals, homies; comrades described in various macho ways. Bruises were common. Spitting was encouraged. Belching was a competitive sport.
Adolescent girls had girlfriends and phoned each other each evening to ask what the other was going to wear the next day. They had circled their wagons into cliques dedicated to delicate activities in which they would not skin their knees or something awful like that.
The upshot is that by the time we hit our teens we didn’t really know much about the opposite sex. How could we? The boys were always over here wearing blue; the girls were always over there wearing pink.
So, there I was at 17 with some mysterious force at work drawing me to this group of total strangers. What’s a poor hormone-saturated teenager to do? Woe is me.
To make a long story a little longer, we worked it out. Clumsily, I admit. Lots of kicking the dirt and blushing and finally getting around to asking one of those alien beings on a date.
It became a little less clumsy as time went by. We learned the rules: don’t honk your horn at the curb when you pick up your date; say nice things about her mother and, when discussing what time she is to be home, never tell her father you’ll have her in bed by ten.
Sure, we got better at sorting out the gender differences, but the truth is, a lot of the mystery never did go away.
The years went by. We got married, continued to work at figuring out the other half, failed monumentally, divorced and went our separate ways.
When I got suddenly single at 37, it wasn’t much different from when I was 17. Again there was an entire world of strangers out there.
I’m married again. Got a good one this time. Maybe I became better. Hard to say.
I don’t kid myself that I have entirely figured out the pink half of the species. But I learned a couple of tricks to avoid trouble. Saying “I’m sorry” goes a long way toward domestic tranquility.
Saying “yes dear,” usually takes care of the rest.