Not that there’s anything wrong with separate bedrooms, especially if you share with someone who snores or has restless leg syndrome. I totally get it. Although there was a time when I thought it meant the marriage was dead or one partner was getting his or her jollies in someone else’s bedroom. It’s funny how the strong and frequently misguided opinions of our youth gradually bend to accommodate a new and more realistic point of view. At one time I couldn’t understand why some people didn’t like to drive after dark. Now I totally get it. And I made fun of people at parties who congregated according to gender, with women in the kitchen and men in the livingroom. How boring and stereotypical, I thought. How naive and immature I was.
Now that I’m “of a certain age”, I’m seeing the practicality of so many things I once looked down on. Last week ten of us met for lunch—four guys and six “girls”. The restaurant couldn’t accommodate us all at one table so the guys were seated at a table next to us ladies. Separate tables, one cheque. No problem. We’ve discovered in recent years that whenever we go out as a group to a restaurant, the conversation is much more lively if the guys sit together at one end of the table and we sit together at the other, close enough to talk back and forth but much more conducive to mutual interests. No more girl/boy, girl/boy seating.
Parties now tend to go the same way. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The guys just don’t seem to enjoy our animated discussions about decorating, fashion, books, or whether GMO’d food is bad for us. Nor do we want to talk about the Jays, football scores or the relative merits of various pressure washers. We still have may highly animated mixed-gender conversations about politics, sex, the economy and other issues though. In fact, collectively I have no doubt that given the opportunity we’d do a much better job of running the government (Federal, Municipal and Provincial), the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Transit Commission, The Hudson’s Bay Company and the United Nations.
The reason for gender separation in social situations is related to, well, gender. Women share feelings. Men share tools. We’re different but compatible. There are plenty of things we enjoy doing together (see bedroom issues above) but we also enjoy certain things not shared by our spouse or partner. My husband loves golf; after two holes I’m ready to slit my wrists. I love reading and writing; my honey has little aptitude for either. I’m good at words; he’s good at numbers. He loves watching football on television; I love that he wears headphones to watch football on television. My girlfriends fulfill my feminine needs; my honey has my back on everything else.
Growing older means becoming wiser and more forgiving. We no longer worry if someone doesn’t like us—call it their loss. Life is complicated and the more we accept and appreciate our differences the easier it is to get through the day. We’re now starting to understand why people older than us prefer to sleep in their own beds at night. The inconvenience and hazards associated with traveling are becoming increasingly more evident, and I can’t believe I’m saying that.
Fortunately my guy doesn’t snore, except when he’s had too much red wine but I’m willing to overlook that, at least until it reaches decibels that shatter our crystal wineglasses. I appreciate his perspective on issues even when it differs from mine. But he can never fill that space occupied by my female friendships and I will never be a threat to his guys’ breakfasts and lunches dedicated to sports scores and whatever else it is they discuss over piles of pancakes and greasy bacon.
The world is an infinitely more interesting place when we make an effort to understand things beyond our comfort zone. Hate often springs from a lack of understanding and the inherent insecurity that accompanies it. While we’ll probably continue to break into gender groups for really good conversation over dinner, you can be sure when we do the boy/girl thing, the decibel level will be just as intense as our opinions on politics, social issues and how to run the world. Boomers are an educated, informed and passionate group of people. But we’re not quite ready for separate bedrooms yet.
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