You go out for the evening with John to watch a match, it is a good match. The opposition is trounced and you arrive home well pleased.
‘Did you win?’
‘Yep, we had a Russian ballerina playing in the scrum and she scored a brilliant try, intercepting a pass and running the length of the pitch before touching the ball down under the posts’. (This detail passes unnoticed.)
‘Didn’t you ask?’
‘Nope, why would I?
‘Because she’s his wife’.
‘Why would I discuss his wife with him?’
‘Because that’s what people do, they discuss their families’.
‘Blokes don’t – and they certainly don’t at matches’.
‘What do you discuss all night?’
‘The game, games past, games to come’.
‘That’s very boring’.
‘Not as boring as talking about people’s wives – or about shopping’.
Of course, such a conversation is entirely fictional and would never take place in our house, nevertheless there does sometimes seem a gender barrier when it comes to communication.
Driving from the RDS in Dublin after Leinster had demolished their opponents 59-22, a flick through the channels brings a rock station playing Dave Edmunds’ 1979 hit ‘Girls’ Talk’.
There are some things you can’t cover up
With lipstick and powder
Thought I heard you mention my name
Can’t you talk any louder
Don’t come any closer, don’t come any nearer
My vision of you can’t come any clearer
Oh, I just wanna hear girls talk
Got a loaded imagination bein’ fired by girls’ talk
It’s a more or less situation inspired by girls’ talk.
Wouldn’t it have been vain to imagine that girls would be talking about him? Perhaps he had carefully researched the song and discovered that girls really did talk among themselves about particular boys. Without having a clue whether they might, it seemed odd that an individual would have been the subject of a conversation. If such a situation did occur, it would have been unlikely to be reciprocated, there were too many sports fixtures and other activities to be discussed.
The male propensity to avoid discussing anything remotely touching upon anything personal may be a sign of strength, it may equally be a mark of weakness, a sign of being uncomfortable with oneself. Perhaps Dave Edmunds’ character is intrigued at a girl’s mention of his name, for it is certain that no boy is likely to mention it, at least not in a complimentary way.
What is always strange is the conversation at dinners, it is almost as though each gender neutralises the other. With sports and family life both off the agenda the evening is spent discussing nothing at all, which is even more boring than last year’s team statistics or the success of Mary’s daughter in her school examinations.