My girlfriend asked me to go along with her sister to buy a second-hand car a while back. She wanted my advice on whether it was a good buy or not, because, according to her, guys know more about this sort of stuff. Ego sufficiently stoked, I duly went along. Once we got there, I gave the car a once over. It’s shiny, I thought, but managed to stop myself from saying this out loud just in time. That wasn’t what I was brought here for. So I kicked the tyres, conclusively proving that they had air in them. Next, I opened the bonnet, and after gazing at all the pipes and wires for a bit, successfully identified the water tank for the windscreen sprayers (it had a sticker on it showing a windscreen and water). Satisfied that this was indeed a good car, I proclaimed it worthy of purchase, and watched the resultant R50 000 transaction take place. A year later, I still get thanked for my advice on buying that car, as it hasn’t given a day’s trouble. But then I knew it wouldn’t – after all, the water tank had water in it, and everyone knows that if you’ve filled that up, you’ve checked the oil on a regular basis.
We know nothing
There are still some things that women just expect men to know about. Like cars. Or surround sound systems. Or self-assemble furniture. But we don’t actually know anything about these things. All we know is that we should know. This isn’t the same thing as male to male know-it-all talk, like when a group of us are standing around the braai voicing theories about what’s wrong with Springbok rugby or how the new Bafana coach rates, even though we never actually played either games beyond under-16C level. We know we’re talking shit there. We’ve simply run out of things to say about lamb chops.
No, when you ask us our opinion on something we should know, it’s not an option for us to admit that we don’t know. It’s about male pride. In Caveman days it was simpler for our sex. We were strong enough to beat the mammoth with a club; you weren’t. So we had some value. These days you aren’t impressed by feats of strength, but rather intellectual ability, which obviously leaves us mildly panicked. So when you admit upfront that you’re clueless, by saying something like ‘My car is making the strangest noise, and I have no idea what’s causing it’, we can’t help ourselves. If you’ve already said you know nothing, why shouldn’t we suggest that it sounds like the gasket has blown, or the rings have gone? Or that it might need to be re-gassed? Oh wait, that’s what we say when the fridge breaks.
Girls have got it good
You’re onto a good thing really. One little ‘Oh my, I wonder what could be wrong?’, and we’re elbow deep in the toilet cistern prodding hopefully at that big floating thing that loos have, praying for a miracle. You could have prodded just as pointlessly at the floating thing before calling the plumber, just like you could have gotten grease all over yourself before pronouncing that the car needed to go to the mechanic, but the question is, why should you? Not only are we willing to do it for you, but our very egos depend on us doing it, even though we know we’re incapable. That’s why we never tell you about the leftover nuts and a bolt we’re sitting with after finishing the DIY TV cabinet, or the fact that we can only find four speaker connections on the back of the surround sound, even though there are five speakers in the box.
So keep expecting us to know about manly things. We need it. In fact, go and ask a guy what ‘FM’ stands for right now. He probably won’t know, but he’ll feel damn good about himself while he’s making something up.