One time after my dad took some heat for dropping a few F-bombs, he turned to me and said, “That’s how men talk.”

It was probably in 1976, and in 1976, men dropped F-bombs while, as a rule, women didn’t. We all know what happened to that rule.

So I was a little surprised when a female colleague I asked to read one of my works in progress objected to the following conversation between men in a bar:

“The hell are they supposed to be?” Steve asked, motioning with his drink.

“Volleyball team, I guess,” Danny said.

Steve sized them up and grunted. “Not a lotta T’s in that group.”

“Get out of here! There’s at least a couple of twos. Maybe a three. The one with the really short black hair.”

“Eh. Too scrawny. They’re all too fuckin’ scrawny. Except number seven. Two T’s for her. Otherwise…eh. I like ’em to have something I can grab onto.”

The T-scale is a hotness rating. A good-looking woman would be hot, but a better-looking one would be hott. Hottt would, of course, be even better. What the critiquer said was, “I liked men better before I got to hear these guys talk.”

This woman is married. How does she think men talk when they’re with other men?

Speaking from fifty-two years of experience, I can tell you that this is what men talk about:




And when they talk about women, they talk about how hot they are.

Some women are bothered by that and seem to think men should think like they do, talk like they do, act like they do. Kind of like the ideal man would be like their best girlfriend. Only with a penis. I’ve read books like that. Hell, I know women like that.

Not every woman wants a man like that, though. I just saw Othello set in the world of outlaw bikers. Hard to find men who are stereotypically more badassedly manly than bikers, right? Then how to explain a biker chick who puts up with—welcomes even—a man making her his “old lady” and requiring her to wear a patch on her jacket that says she’s his “property”?

Or this story, shared online by author Toni McGee Causey:

I was sitting with my husband, having a nice leisurely lunch. We fell quiet for a bit. After a few minutes, he asked me, “What are you thinking about?”

I said, “I noticed that woman’s hat over there. It’s really cute and I wished I had the kind of style that could wear really cute hats. I love hats, but I always feel like a dork whenever I wear them.

He was silent for a couple of minutes, and just as I was taking the next bite of food, he said, low, wicked, “I was thinking of boobies.”

That drew 32 comments—all along the lines of “typical guy—how cute.” Because all those commenters knew thinking about titties doesn’t make him a bad guy. Just a guy. A heterosexual man thinks about titties all the time. Unless he’s thinking about ass.

The guy’s guy, a.k.a. the alpha male, abounds in romance fiction specifically because a significant number of women prefer a man who is not like their girlfriends. But still has the penis.

The idea that women don’t know what men think about isn’t that rare. The Chicago Reader recently reported that the four female editors of the fiction anthology Men Undressed: Women Writers and the Male Sexual Experience argue that “while male authors have traditionally felt comfortable writing about sex from a woman’s point of view, the cross-gender imagining hasn’t gone the other way. Women don’t as often write about sex from the point of view of male characters.”

One of the editors of Men Undressed, Cris Mazza, tried it in her 2001 novel, Girl Beside Him, “a book-length attempt to write from a man’s perspective,” and got this comment: “Men don’t think about their erections like this.”

I couldn’t tell you what other men think about their erections. It’s not on the list of approved topics. But about this I am pretty sure: If you want to spend your life with a man who’s just like one of the gals, great. Go find one. They’re there. But when you do find him, don’t assume he’s thinking about women the way you do. And don’t be upset if you find out he’s been talking to the boys about tits and ass when you’re not around. Or even, sometimes, when you are.

That’s how men talk.

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