Duh: brains of men and women different

A recent study has shown “for the first time” that the brains of men and women are different.

Duh. Anyone with a brain in their head knows that. Consider this scenario from a story I was once told:

A guy named Fred is attracted to a woman named Martha. He asks her out to a movie, she accepts and they have a good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

Then, one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Martha and she says, “Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six

Her thought is followed by silence in the car.

To Martha, it becomes a painful silence. She thinks to herself, Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship. Maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want.

And Fred is thinking, Wow. Six months.

And Martha is thinking,  I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship either. Maybe I need a little space so I can have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are.  I mean, where are we going anyway?  Are we heading toward marriage? Toward a family? Toward a lifetime together? 

Meantime, Fred is thinking, So that means it was…let’s see…February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer, which means…lemme check the odometer…Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Martha is thinking: He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed – even before I sensed it – that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

And Fred is thinking: And I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right.  And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 77 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent guys $850.

And Martha is thinking: He’s clearly angry. Well I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. 

And Fred is thinking: They’ll probably say I’m past the warranty.

And Martha is thinking: Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Fred is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a warranty. I’ll take their warranty and stick it right up their…

“Fred,” Martha says aloud.


“Please don’t torture yourself like this,” Martha says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. “Maybe I should never have–oh dear. I feel so–”

“What?” interrupts Fred.

“I’m such a fool,” Martha sobs. “I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”

“There’s no horse?” asks Fred.

“You think I’m a fool, don’t you?”

“No!”  Fred exclaims.

“It’s just that, I think I need some time,” Martha says.

Confused, Fred reaches toward Martha and touching her hand  says, “Okay?”

“Oh, Fred, do you really feel that way?”

“What way?”

“About needing some time.”

“Oh. I guess.”

Gazing into his eyes, Martha says, “Thank you, Fred.”

Fred drives Martha to her home and says goodnight.  Martha falls upon her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Fred gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a football game between two NCAA Division-2 teams that he has never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it.

The next day Martha will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification.

They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it either.

Meanwhile months later, Fred, while playing golf one day with a friend who knows Martha, will pause just before teeing off, and ask: “Norm, did Martha ever own a horse?”

And that’s the difference between the brains of men and women.


Brian Sussman

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