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Published July 06 2012

Eccher: What makes the man? Even men don’t agree

The men, it seems, have found me.

In recent weeks, I’ve heard not just from women who want to know what their men are thinking, but also from men who want to know what I’m thinking about what they’re thinking.

Or who don’t think I know what they’re thinking. Or who prefer not to think about me thinking about them think. I haven’t quite worked it all out yet, but any way you slice it, I’ve got their attention.

But not so much their approval.

James, for instance, wasn’t thrilled about what he felt was a lowbrow portrayal of people of the male persuasion. Something about how I was pigeonholing them as juvenile and animalistic. He took umbrage at the suggestion you should housebreak your man like you housebreak your dog.

I didn’t agree with everything he said – he seemed to think you should talk to and reason with your man in an intelligent way rather than train him, which I think is crazy.

But he did liken my work to “a fairly good sitcom,” which is the kind of endorsement that lands you a green-lit pilot starring William Shatner. So after blowing off some healthy animalistic steam by laughing at flatulence jokes for a few hours, I was ready to give the wacky world of dignity and higher order thinking skills a try.

Then I heard from another man who took issue with my advice for very different reasons. I’ll let Jared explain:

“What’s your man thinking? This question is a logical fallacy. Women assume that since they think all the time, men must also, too. Well, this is not true. Men are all about being efficient. This is a built-in survival trait that has been left over from the pre-historic days.

We don’t want to use more energy hunting, than what the food is worth … We use the least amount of words possible to get our point across. … We know the shortest route to our destination and we can drive there as fast as possible. That’s being efficient.

… After our task is finished, we don’t find it necessary to have a constant thought. It’s just a waste, and we are conserving our thoughts. Our brains stop until it is needed for the next task.”

So depending on who you ask, we’re either talking about erudite reason-loving Ted Mosbys, or quasi-evolved, running-on-caveman-hardware grunters.

Frankly, men, I’m confused.

So is Sue. She asks:

My man always put the milk away with maybe a swallow left it. What’s up with that?

What’s up with that, indeed.

Your Jameses of this world will suggest a measured approach. You might point out to said man, using your words, that a swallow of milk is not a particularly useful amount to have left over.

Using Reason and Understanding, which I believe are currently available in votive four-packs at Yankee Candle Co., you can come to an agreement on the point at which the milk-drinker is obligated to finish the job and dispose of the container. Think of it as a Milk Event Horizon – the point beyond which no milk can escape.

Your Jareds, meanwhile, will point out that your man, following in the proud footsteps of his hunter-gatherer forefathers, hunted and/or gathered that milk. He stalked it, catlike and patient, through the jungle of the produce aisle. He speared it, precise and vicious, with his Visa card. He flung the kill over his shoulder in a grocery bag, and he marched it back to the village victorious.

Or maybe you did those things. I don’t know what the score is with groceries at your house. The point is: This is a creature so wired for conservation, he won’t even waste energy thinking. And he sure isn’t about to waste milk.

So who between these two diametrically opposed paragons of masculinity is right?

Easy. I am. Mr. Shatner, I await your call.

Forum reporter Marino Eccher wants to answer your tough questions about the male in your life. Send them to shesays@forumcomm.com or Attn: You’ve Got Male, The Forum, PO Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.