Mars And Venus In South Africa

By Amanda Patterson

I love men.

Really.

It’s just that they frustrate and annoy me.

Sometimes.

Okay – quite a lot of the time.

I have questions about the strange things they do. And I have no answers.

When you go on holiday, or out of town for that matter, they lose all control over logical things like keeping tabs on how much petrol’s in the tank. Would a woman try to drive from one godforsaken town in the Karoo to another with the gauge flashing an ugly red?

No!

But a man will. He says he’s sure you’ll make it. He knows exactly how fuel consumption blah di blah di blah works. And does he apologise when you stand in the tar-melted heat kicking stones and dust with your Ferragamos? Blah di blah di Hah!!!

Let’s not even start on asking for directions. Been there and done that. There’s no more to be said. Men are incapable of speech under these circumstances.

Braaing is an interesting masculine ritual. One that has many questions… Surely all it takes is wood – no, not even wood – we have store bought charcoal nowadays, don’t we? How much simpler can it be?

‘Doesn’t taste the same, babe.’

Oh. And…

‘You have to use the right grid, babe. And the meat has to be marinated for that extra 23 and a half seconds or I’m not responsible for how it tastes.’

Right.

You’d assume that men would have mastered the art after 50 000 years practise. Maybe they’re nearly there. Maybe. Anyway back to the questions.

Why do we always eat 2 hours later than agreed? Why is the meat always burnt? Or underdone? Why can’t men follow the instructions on the Woolies braai pack? It’s in English and Afrikaans. I’ve checked. And the king of questions – why does it take 4 men to start a braai and 6 to keep it going? The mind reels and boggles and then gives in. It would take a stronger woman than me to tackle and reform these customs.

And sports. Karl Marx was almost right. It’s not religion that’s the opiate of the masses, it’s sport.

Now men have to watch these in packs.

Men will watch golf, swimming, gymnastics, Armenian football, volleyball, hockey, darts – the world championship no less, pool, the strongest man alive and God forbid, the weakest one alive, if some producer filmed it!

Men, bless their hearts, know who should be chosen for every rugby or cricket team to represent South Africa. Really! They can’t remember their wedding anniversary but they know the name of every hooker in the country.

Another thought that’s bothered me for years. Why do men throw themselves across grass, dirt and stones? All they have to show are cuts and grazes and bruises. Granted it’s usually after a ball but would a woman do that? Please.

And on the subject of women. The way they talk about us! As if they actually know us. Poor darlings – if they did, they’d run screaming into the woods, hide in their own cave and never come out.

‘Ja, she really digs me. I can tell.’

Yes – I’m sure you can – not!

‘Of course she smaaks me, china.’

She has indigestion, buddy!

Men tell us that they know women, that they know our hearts, bodies and minds. Which is strange when you hear how often they tell other men and some ‘other’ women that they really don’t understand us at all.

Maybe it’s better that I don’t know the answers. It gives me hours of amusement. Besides, life would be boring without men. They do have their uses…

And sometimes you’re lucky. You meet a man who answers these questions, who really listens when you talk, who doesn’t profess to know women, who won’t ever let you run out of petrol in the desert, who asks for directions when he’s lost and who braais edible food.

And when you do, grab him, hold him, love him.

Amanda Patterson, CEO of The Write CoAmanda Patterson, Founder & CEO of The Write Co. 32 graduates of her course Writers Write have been published. Amanda’s memoir, Let’s Play Risk will be published in late 2008. Visit www.itsallwrite.net to find out more.