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BATTLE OF THE SEXES
It's 9 A.M. Leyner and I are sitting in our office, awaiting our first patients.
After finishing Why Do Men Have Nipples?, we decided to go into practice together. Leyner's BA in English and Masters in creative writing hardly qualified him to treat patients, and his adamant refusal to seek higher medical education didn't help matters. (Leyner was violently opposed to the idea of attending school again. During a rather heated discussion of the issue, he smashed a printer we'd just purchased for our new office, and scrawled an adolescent vulgarity on a print of Van Gogh's Sunflowers hanging in the hallway.)
When Leyner regained his composure, we realized that the thing that made our partnership work was our fanatical mutual admiration, our boundless love of arcane medical matters and our capacity to talk endlessly about our own insecurities and desires, and the personal crises and dilemmas in which life occasionally ensnares us. For some bizarre reason, people other than the two of us seem to be interested in what we have to say. . . . We finally agreed that if Dr. Phil could do it on TV, why couldn't we offer our learned and empathic counseling services. This would preclude the need for advanced degrees, and, I also figured it was a way to safely keep medical instruments and sharp surgical devices out of Leyner's emotionally unstable grasp.
Our office assistant, Wendy Thurston, who was recently fired from her position as senior editor at Half a Dozen Ponds Press after she was arrested for shoplifting lipstick from a Rite Aid, escorted our first patients of the day into our office. They were a young couple. The woman was attractive, conservatively dressed, and--at first glance--seemed somewhat despondent. Her husband, dragging behind, seemed more interested in the defaced painting in the hallway than in being here to address "issues" with his inexplicably unfulfilled wife.
"Who wrote 'sniff my crotch' on the Van Gogh out there?" he asked as he took a seat next to his wife. "I love it!!!" he guffawed, slapping his thighs.
His wife grimaced with chagrin. "You see," she said, "I married a philistine and a troglodyte."
"Insult me in English, you pretentious bitch!," the husband replied. Leyner assumed a fighting stance--the Drunken Crane pose of the Shaolin School.
I remembered the last time that Leyner assaulted a patient and hoping to avoid more litigation, I interceded and suggested that Leyner's pose is the typical noncommunicative and defensive position that spouses take and that this impedes further discussion. A dissapointed Leyner shrugged in agreement and slouched into his leather armchair.
As I turned to the fuming couple, I asked them to role-play with us. I offered to play the husband to our female patient and Leyner enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to play wife to the man.
I began, "Sometimes patients feel more open and honest with a surrogate spouse, so I want you to tell me exactly what you need from me in this marriage." Sheepishly the woman responded, "I need a partner, a soul mate, someone to talk to. Sometimes I just want to be heard. I don't need someone to solve all my problems, I just need someone to hold me and listen." The husband jumped at the chance to answer his wife, but I stopped him.
"I want you to respond to Leyner as if he were your wife. This will keep the two of you from becoming defensive and allow you to see each other's point of view."
Confused, the husband looked at the beaming Leyner and said, "I listen, I hold you, but it's always the things that I don't do. I feel like you don't appreciate the things that I do. I barbecue, I walk the dog, I take out the garbage, I even put down the toilet seat. What do you want me to do? Lactate?"
Leyner rose from his chair red-faced, tears welling in his eyes, spittle flying from his mouth as he gesticulated with melodramatic hysteria.
"Bastard . . . You stole my youth and now you're drowning my soul in your vile bullshit. You make love to me as if I were some inflatable doll--pumping for a minute or two, while you watch Sports Center and then losing consciousness. You're torturing me . . . I hate you. I HATE YOU!!!"
Tears streamed down Leyner's face as he wept uncontrollably. The couple sat silently, completely and utterly confused.
So much for the role-playing. Unfortunately there is no easy solution to the Battle of the Sexes but here are some answers. . . .
WHY DO WOMEN PEE MORE THAN MEN?
Any man who has taken a long car trip with a woman truly believes that women need to pee more than men. As we speed down the highway and begrudgingly pull into another rest stop, we wonder whether this is the result of a genetic difference, obsessive water consumption, or a vicious plan to throw us off schedule.
If you happened to be leafing through the February 5, 2005, edition of The Journal of Urology, you could begin to find an answer. Doctors reviewed twenty-four-hour "urinary diaries" of both men and women and recorded fluid intake and urinary frequency. They found that women do pee more often than men but not because they drink more. In fact, men generally have higher fluid intake but don't need to go as often. When men finally feel the urge, they tend to pee in higher volumes than women. This is because men have a larger bladder capacity. That means smaller bladders in the ladies. Women are also more likely to suffer from overactive bladder syndrome which makes them go even more. No wonder the line is always longer at the ladies' room.
Diaries and memoirs are a red-hot genre these days. There's The Diary of Anne Frank, Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries, The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Karrine Steffans' Confessions of a Video Vixen, and, of course, James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. But, if you're inspired by literary ambition, and decide to keep and then publish your Urine Diary, be aware that it will most probably be classified as "nonfiction." You must account accurately for each and every drop, with absolutely no embellishment or hyperbole. Remember--if you fib in your Urine Diary, it could really piss off Oprah.
WHY DO WOMEN HAVE SMALLER FEET THAN MEN?
Overall, women are smaller than men. The "why" is an evolutionary question that is too complex for us to answer here. But the ways in which men and women differ anatomically is more approachable. Male and female feet differ in size relative to stature. Men of the same height as women tend to have longer and wider feet.
When you compare a male and female foot of the same size, the woman's foot will have a higher arch, a shallower first toe, a shorter ankle length, and a smaller instep. Women also have larger calf circumferences.
Women seem to have an incredible knack for disregarding the shape of their feet and forcing them into ever smaller and pointier high heels. This callous disregard makes the foot differences between the genders even greater by ultimately changing the natural shape of female feet. In 1993, it was reported by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, that 88 percent of the women surveyed wore shoes smaller than their actual foot size. No wonder our wives are constantly patching their traumatized feet with Band-Aids and tape.
ARE MEN BETTER THAN WOMEN AT MATH?
Danger! Danger! Answering this question incorrectly may force us to sleep on the couch with our wives beating us with the infamous Teen Talk Barbie that was programmed to say, "Math is hard!"
Harvard University president Lawrence Summers stepped into this minefield in 2005, when he suggested that biological differences might be one of the reasons that fewer women are in the fields of science and engineering. His speech led many professors to protest his statement, and others threatened to withhold donations. Several days later, Summers was forced to apologize. And he has since resigned.
So here are some facts (though these are often debated). . . .
The brains of men and women are definitely different. Women's brains are generally about 10 percent smaller than men's, but this is meaningless when it comes to intelligence. Men and women show no disparity in general intelligence. There are, however, some areas with slight variances. Women are better at visual memory, mathematical calculation, and get better school grades in mathematics. Men, however, are better at mentally rotating shapes, mathematical problem-solving, and score higher on mathematical word problems and on tests of mathematical reasoning.
Whether you agree or disagree on the interpretation of the available data, sociologists generally agree that social factors exaggerated any differences touted in the past. Women are clearly underrepresented in certain scientific fields such as math, engineering, and physics, but women now comprise more than 50 percent of medical students.
In the interest of gender harmony, let's create a new politically correct, asexual Barbie who says something neutral like "Cognitively rotating abstract shapes can be a daunting task--I prefer mathematical calculation and more linguistically complex and empathy-centered forms of interpersonal communication." Fun!