It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while my husband wants to talk about his feeling. A man’s emotional state isn’t typically plural, because they only have one emotion.
“Honey, I’m hungry,” Jim will say to me.
“Do you want to talk about it? Should we examine what you’ve eaten today, the intervals between meals, and the nutritional breakdown of each food you have consumed?” I offer, eager for a chance to analyze my husband’s baring of his raw emotions.
“No, I just want a sandwich,” he replies.
My husband also experiences another feeling that starts with a “h” and ends with heavy breathing, but we’re not going to discuss that here because I’m a lady and I blush easily. That emotion usually can’t be satisfied with ham and cheese on wheat, though.
By contrast, I am frequently plagued with a terrifying onslaught of emotions. This is an inevitable part of being a woman, akin to pain during childbirth and the ability to spot a “CLEARANCE SALE” sign at 200 yards on a foggy day. Usually, women congregate to dissect the myriad nuances, causes, and repercussions of their current emotional state(s) with their girlfriends, but I don’t have any neighbors within an hour’s drive of our isolated home on the ranch, so tag – Jim’s it.
“I’m feeling upset. Can we talk about it?” I’ll occasionally ask Jim during our evening routine of watching TV after dinner.
He pauses the sitcom and checks his phone for the time.
“Honey, I have to be at work in 11 hours. Do we really have time for this right now?”
“Well, I alphabetically organized my feelings from ‘angst’ to ‘giddy’ to ‘melancholy’ to ‘zany’ in hopes that it would streamline the process.”
“Really? You felt giddy and melancholy at the same time?”
“No, of course not. I experienced those two drastically different emotions at least ninety seconds apart. Now, would you like me to present you with my feelings in a timeline format, or should I just hand you the single-spaced, three-page outline I typed earlier?”
Jim usually opts for the printout, because he knows there will be a quiz later. The quiz consists of one question: “Don’t you remember when I told you about my childhood friend being mean to me/my bad hair day/our 5-year-old daughter saying she wanted to move out?” He is very motivated to answer correctly, because past experience has taught him that incorrect answers receive a grade of hysterical crying.
Jim doesn’t like feminine tears, because they confuse him. Like most other heterosexual males who wear boots to work and chop wood on the weekends, Jim never cries. If he cut off his leg above the knee with a chain saw, he wouldn’t cry. Instead, he would grit his teeth and cuss while making up reasons he shouldn’t go to the hospital.
“It’s just a flesh wound,” he’d say. “Just put my severed limb on ice and I’ll finish cutting up this tree.”
At the other end of the crazy train, I once cried because I broke a trash can lid. Yes, this was nonsensical. Yes, I was pregnant at the time. Yes, my physical condition influenced my overly emotional state.
And yes, this is probably why when my husband gets a particular feeling that starts with “h,” sometimes he just heads for the kitchen to see if we have any cold cuts.
I don’t think I’m crazy, but this picture offers evidence to the contrary.