Let’s face it. In the orthodox world, we don’t get to meet the other gender too much. So when we’re growing up we get all our information from books and from our siblings (who we know perfectly well aren’t normal specimens, because if the rest of the world was like them why haven’t we self-destructed yet?)
Then comes dating. A short, intense, and gruesome period of being chained to within a ten foot radius of one of those creatures. The result? Only mildly enlightening. Again, you are full of hope that you just met the exception, not the rule. Generalizations are brutal and cathartic (“boys are stupidheads”) and not even believed by the speaker after a week of chocolate, long nights of sleep, and being set up with a better guy.
Then comes marriage! You’ve finally found the perfect representative of the opposite specie. And you are living together in close quarters and mutual trust. The sort of position any naturalist would love to be in. But you’re not swapping with them, because this is amazing. It’s charming. It’s entertaining. It’s like finally meeting the star of a novel or movie.
Here, right here, is a Woman! And she’s just like you heard. Chatters a lot. Wrings her hands over what to wear. Whirls about the kitchen with the best of intentions but dubious results. Fills most of the bathroom with little tubs, bottles, and jars with uses beyond your comprehension. Finds a subtextual insult in all your well-meaning phrases.
Alternatively: here is Man. He leaves the toilet seat up. Scatters used socks across the bedroom. Presents you with flowers with such an earnest expression and thinks it’s the flowers you like. Believes everything tastes better deep fried. Has feelings as fragile as your own, though he’d be insulted if you pointed it out.
Or whatever. The generalizations are different every time. Leave a man in an apartment with a woman for three months and he believes that he’s ready to write the field guide on the female specie. And the same in reverse.
The single friend must learn to control her eyes, preventing them from rolling, while listening to the NMF (both male and female) spew bright-eyed, enthusiastic generalizations about how women are so mercurial and men are so hairy (I quote from real life) based on (one hopes) experience with only one member of the species.
Fear not, my friends. This too shall pass. Well, maybe not, but it’ll slow. Until they have sons and daughters and a whole new set from which to draw their observations.