I'd like to begin today's column with a little pop quiz. So please sit up straight in your desks and answer the following multiple choice question:
Who enjoys showing off more for the opposite sex?a. the girls
b. the guys
OK. I realize you could definitely make a case for choice "a." If you did, however, you would be WRONG and also (I don't mean to be rude), STUPID! The true and correct answer is "b." Men like to show off in front of women more than women like to show off in front of men.
I know this, of course, from watching "Wild Kingdom" when I was growing up, which featured cool nature footage of colorful guy birds such as peacocks strutting around, showing off their fancy tail feathers to mousy brown girl peacocks who were busy making casseroles and driving car pools. I also know about guys showing off for girls from direct personal experience because of something my dad said when I was in college during the Dark Ages. Here's what happened.
Once as I was playing tennis, I couldn't help but notice the very attractive couple occupying the next court over.
Although it was clear they were "in a relationship" together, he was playing the part of instructor and she was playing the part of student. I had the feeling, in fact, that she'd never been on a tennis court before, mostly because her snappy little outfit was so crisp and new you could practically see the tags hanging off it and also because of the way she squeaked in fear and ducked every time a ball bounced in her general direction.
The boyfriend was totally supportive and encouraging. He kept yelling positive boyfriend things like, "Hey, Honey, you're doing GREAT!" and "Hey, Honey, you look totally bitchin' in your crisp and new outfit!" (EDITOR'S NOTE: That last comment probably is not true, and we therefore do not accept responsibility for it.)
After allowing herself to be terrorized for a while, this girl finally reached down deep inside herself and found enough inner strength to start scampering (and also hopping) after the tennis ball like a spunky little rabbit. Pretty soon she even made contact with the ball, and eventually she sent a shot wobbling back over the net.
WELL! You should have seen the boyfriend. Suddenly it was a different game. Suddenly it was a tie-breaker in the fifth set on the center court at Wimbledon. He started snorting and pawing the ground and tossing his hair around like Andre Agassi back in the days when Andre Agassi had hair. Then he charged the net and SLAMMED that ball back into her court so hard that it scared the pompons right off that girl's snappy little socks, as well as flushed all the game out of the neighboring bushes. Anyway, I'll never forget what happened next. This guy leaped nimbly over the net (he'd obviously eaten his Wheaties that morning), trotted to his girlfriend's side, put his arm around her, and said, "Honey, I'm sorry, but I just couldn't resist."
When I later told my dad about this experience, he just shook his head and muttered, "There is a certain type of guy in this world who absolutely cannot resist the temptation to show off."
And now I have one of those guys living in my house. The other day when I looked out my front window, I saw my 5-year-old son, Quinton, on the porch loading up his red Radio Flyer wagon with guy stuff and then lifting it high into the air like he was one of those muscle men pulling tractors on TV. Also, he was deliberately sagging his shorts so that you could see he was wearing real boxers underneath and not those sissy baby boy pants with super heroes on them. Finally, he was punctuating his wagon-lifting displays with fierce ninja kicks, as well as landing 360 degree jumps off the porch. And he was doing all this for the benefit of a little 4-year-old neighbor girl, who stood transfixed with her mother on the sidewalk, watching him perform.
"Isn't life strange," I said to the other mother as I joined her. "You try to do the politically correct thing and make your sons play with Barbies so they'll develop their sensitive sides and all they want to do is jujitsu moves on your front porch."
The mother sighed, "And you try to make your daughters build bridges with Legos so they'll be engineers when they grow up and all they want to do is buy shoes like those." She pointed at her daughter's tiny feet clad in - get this - gold sequined slippers.
So I guess it's true what they say. Girls are from Venus.
And guys WILL NEVER stop for directions to find out how they can get there.