Man-splaining, and Intellect

After my superintendent-induced tragedy and resulting diatribe on Friday evening, I did indeed end up going out on the town. One of my roommates was having a thing in Murray Hill, and though the neighborhood is the antithesis of everything I love (seriously – has anyone ever actually met a young professional? Who are these people?), a rugby first Friday seemed as good a reason as any to go to Third Avenue.

I’m a pretty talkative and physically intact individual, so I have no trouble striking up conversations with strangers. As is wont to happen, half of them end up being about tattoos, which bores me to death. Think about it: If you meet a person with a tattoo, or an accent, or anything out of your personal realm of normalcy, wouldn’t you assume that you’re not the first person to bring it up in conversation? Wouldn’t you want to be the guy who asks the woman her opinion about immigration? Although I guess asking about my tattoos is better than someone telling me I have a Long Island accent, or asking where I work. Who wants to talk about work outside of work? It should be like Fight Club: Pretend it doesn’t exist and kill anyone who mentions it on the street.

So when this guy came up to me and asked me “where do you get your pieces done?” I was annoyed. When I noticed he was built as a motherfucker with a great smile to boot, I got over it. He was new to the city and had a huge design in mind, so I forgave his commonplace question and actually started to have a fast-paced and multilayered conversation, one of the good ones, that follows no straight path but rather jumps from topic to topic organically. You know, like, how people are supposed to talk. When he said he’d spent the last four years in Bermuda for work, I naturally mentioned that I’d lived in Mexico for two years, which led to him saying he’d visited Mexico City in July, which in turn led to me asking how he liked it.

“Teotihuacan was amazing,” he said, and waxed poetic for a moment or two.

“You wanna hear something crazy?” I said. “I never made it there.”

“You lived in Mexico for almost two years and never went to Teotihuacan?” He was dumbfounded.

“Nope. I’d visited about 13 ruins before and I simply couldn’t take it anymore.”

Now, in my opinion, the proper response to this is something like, “oh they’re great, you really missed out,” to which I would respond, “I know, I know; I gotta go next time.” Instead, he launched into this discourse about how it was essentially criminal that I’d lived there for so long without seeing one of the most important historical sites in the country. I contested that while it was slightly shameful, I didn’t feel that my experience of Mexican culture would have been greatly enriched by seeing another I’ve blogged before about how I hate the pyramids.

But he wouldn’t let it go. And then he said that he’d visited Tenochtitlan, which was also amazing.

“That’s really cool that you found a time machine,” I responded.

“What do you mean?”

“As far as I know, that was the ancient Aztec empire, and it hasn’t been around for mad long.”

He categorically stated that I was wrong, that such a claim was ridiculous, that it’s still a city. I countered that while Spanish-speaking countries are not known for originality in place names and that there is probably a city in Mexico named Tenochtitlan, it wasn’t located in Mexico City. Mexico City is located in Mexico City, and has been since the 16th century. I attempted to change the subject a few times but he was harping, and I quickly went from wanting to have a passionate make-out session on a side street to wanting to hate-fuck the shit out of him. When I turned around and ordered myself another drink and he still wouldn’t drop it, I wanted to actually shit on him. Suffice it to say, I went home alone.

When I later relayed this infuriating conversation to my roommate, she said: “Oh, yeah. He was man-splaining.” Since I am a woman, I needed no further ‘splaining. Her neologism was both brilliant and true.

We’re all aware that many men have difficulty conversing. This is not to say they don’t have a dearth of topics they’d love to tell you about, but that is not a conversation; it’s a mini-lecture. Many men do well with facts yet struggle with analysis, be it of a situation or someone’s emotions and body language. In other words, if they’re talking to someone about  Have you ever seen a guy in his twenties or thirties with the flu? Also, has anyone else noticed that all guys these days are self-proclaimed amazing cooks and bartenders? What’s the deal with that? Is it the Food Network? I watch “Grey’s Anatomy” but you don’t see me parading around telling future boyfriends that I can do an apply, or a lombard puncture.

A good comparison is the following: WOMEN:MEN::UNDERGRAD:GRAD. Have you ever had a conversation with an undergraduate college student? While it’s all well and good that you took the intro to Latin American studies course your sophomore year, that does not mean you know, well, anything about Latin American studies. That’s a topic so broad that it’s less a class than a mute point. Here’s the class: Pinochet! Aztecs! Tierra del Fuego! People in Argentina say che! Not all people are poor! A+. Both subsets of humanity tend to substitute rational analysis with loud insistence and parroting, hoping that…what? Their audience will become deaf and thus, by default, they win?

Herein lies the problem with going to more school and reading more books: You become quite intolerant of idiocy and, as a result, a wider range of people. Going out and meeting people with whom you’d like to engage in horizontal hijinks isn’t based solely on a shared love of Maker’s Mark (“nice bourbon, wanna fuck?”) but rather on how long you think you could sit at a table and, say, dispute whether or not Jack Kerouac is valid (I maintain yes) not based on his cool cat sartorial decisions, but on the prose and the historical context and the resulting influence.

Now, consider the fact that I go to City College, which, as far as I can discern, admits anyone with a couple thousand dollars and a Bic pen into the MFA program. I’m no genius. How the fuck do people who study at MIT manage to meet anyone who’s even remotely interesting to them? I can understand why older people ultimately go for much younger partners: At a certain point, you realize that most people are very stupid, and you realize that if you’re going to resign yourself to you may as well get to look at someone who’s damn fine. I’m 27, not 57, so I’m not saying I’ve given up all hope of meeting a guy who can have a discussion that doesn’t degenerate into a belligerent screaming match about something that’s false.  That said, I’m certainly reached a point at which I’d rather spend my nights off with friends who will happily have a dialectic about the Beats as opposed to having sex with someone who just googled “dialectic”.

For the record, there is indeed a Tenochtitlan, Veracruz, which, according to a 2000 census “reported a total population of slightly over 5600 people. The same census also revealed that the municipality had no hotels, no restaurants, no cafeterias, no bars, and no discothèques or night-clubs.”

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