Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Defense of Shallowness

In Which I Address The Meaning of Life, the Difference between Men & Women, and Other Big Questions

Like many men, when I return from a Guy Outing (day of golfing, weekend away, poker night), Mrs. Freetime and I have a conversation that goes something like this:

Her: So how is Bob’s new job going?
Me: Oh, I don’t know, it didn't come up.
Her: How about Jim’s daughter, is she feeling better?
Me: About what?
Her: Seriously?  She had pneumonia last month.
Me: Oh, right.  Hmmm, I'm not sure.  She's probably fine.
Her: Okay, I hesitate to even ask, but Rick's sister was going into labor as you were leaving.   Did she have the baby?
Me (proudly):  Yes, she did!  He got a text on Saturday morning, she had a baby, and mother and child are fine!
Her:  Oh, great, what did she have?
Me:  Um...
Her: Unbelievable.  What the hell do you guys talk about all weekend?!

What do we talk about?  Well, here's a sampling of things we talk about as we're sitting around the proverbial - and sometimes actual - campfire:
  • The importance of relief pitching
  • Elaborate retelling and embellishment of stories from our past that we've told and retold a million times
  • The relative merits of bourbon, vodka, and beer
  • How Texas Hold 'Em is great for television and Vegas, but draw and stud are better for a neighborhood poker game
  • The Giants' secondary
  • Movie and television lines, mostly from Seinfeld and movies featuring SNL players (Murray, Chase, etc.)
  • Whether to lay up with a 7 iron or go for it with a 3 wood
  • If the Beatles had stayed together, would their albums in the 70's feature the same songs that appeared on their solo albums (Imagine, Band on the Run, My Sweet Lord) or would it have been completely different stuff?
  • Injuries to members of our fantasy baseball team
  • The ways in which contemporary fiction addresses the angst we feel as we approach middle age not having achieved our most cherished dreams
Ha! Ha!  Just kidding about that last part!  We never talk about stuff like that.  

Women are reading this and nodding their heads.  Yep, that's my husband.  Men are so shallow.  

Yes we are!  We are shallow, and proudly so.  That's not to say we never have actual moments of angst.  That we don't think about the future or relationships or money or the Big Questions like God and politics.  We just don't talk about it*.

 *  Though I might argue that the Lost Beatles albums qualifies as a Big Question, certainly more important than religion

You see, shallowness is an extremely underrated quality.  Many women I know, for example, oh, I don't know, um, say, er, my wife...and some of my friend's wives...and various people I'm related to by blood and by see, some women, and I realize I'm making an extreme generalization that isn't at all true of the many wonderful women who may stumble on this column, tend to, um, how do I put this...overthink things.

And they don't just overthink them.  In order to really truly think things through - I mean, to think things through to within an inch of their lives - you need to talk about them.  And talk some more.  And after you're done with incredibly long phone conversations with other women, they might want to loop their husbands in, get their take.

But we're busy.  Watching the Mets game.  Or checking our fantasy team.  Or watching Fletch for the 638th time.  You know, important stuff like that.

But here's the thing - and pay attention here, because I'm going to tell you right now the Purpose of Life.  No need to climb any mountain top or meditate or fast - I'm going to give it to you free right now.  The Purpose of Life is to seek happiness while living a moral life.

Bam.  That's it.   That's the whole shooting match there.  Seek happiness while leading a moral life.

And shallowness is an important part of happiness.  That's not to say I don't have a serious side.  I can be quite serious about subjects historical, literary, and political.

But I also turn my brain off.  A lot.  Well, that's not true, I don't turn it off.  I engage it in meaningless activities.  The quality of the Mets' bullpen is of little world historical import, and has no direct impact on my life, nor can I have any impact on it.  But I've spent a lot of quality time through the years pondering it.  Far more time than I've given to thinking about my "relationships".

So there you have it.  I've explained to you how men achieve happiness, and the meaning of life, all in one handy little blog post.  Now if I can just figure out whether Bobby Parnell has the stuff to be the next Mets' closer.


Hooks said...

When did you get married?

Hollywood said...

Thanks for the clarification and the hilarity of it. I am so sharing with my husband and with my girlfriends, on facebook!

Hollywood said...

Thanks for providing clarity on what you guys usually talk about! Hilarious. I am so sharing with my husband and my friends.

Whitney O'Neill said...

Miss talking to you, Mr. Freetime! You hit the nail on the head with this one. Your posts are always entertaining. Thanks for sharing with us!

Whitney O'Neill said...

These are not shallow discussions - rather they are the "top layer" and all the things that aren't said when guys get together count too!
Miss talking with you Mr. Freetime!

Tom Seaver said...

As Buddha said, "Chop wood, go a solid nine, and you won't even have to think about relievers."