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What’s next . . . separate bedrooms?

We mustn't be too quick to judge others who choose separate bedrooms.
We mustn’t be too quick to judge those who choose separate bedrooms.

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.

As life goes, lunching with girlfriends is about as good as it gets.
As life goes, lunching with girlfriends is about as good as it gets.

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.

The level of interest in dinner conversation can be highly subjective and related to gender.
The level of interest in dinner conversation can be highly subjective and related to gender.

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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For a dose of U.K. reality, check out Scott & Bailey

One of the things I love most about British television is the rawness and imperfection of the characters and the actors playing the characters. There is a conspicuous absence of fake breasts, perfect veneered teeth, botoxed and filled faces and lips, luscious hair extensions, gratuitous casting of youth and other superficial visual tools employed by casting directors in American programming. Everything is so believable.

The personal and professional lives of the three main characters are so relatable.
The personal and professional lives of the flawed three main characters are so relatable.

I’ve just spent too many evenings binge-watching four seasons of an ITV series called Scott & Bailey about two female Manchester-based police detectives in the Major Incidents Division, which is police talk for murder and other serious crimes. The lead characters, Rachel Bailey, Janet Scott and Gill Murray deal with feminist issues from the front lines. Written by a superb team of women writers, the series is a realistic depiction of professional women coping with the dual demands of domestic and work life.

If you like British TV, you can watch Scott & Bailey on Netflix, YouTube or however you access your special programs. It’s much like another series, Happy Valley set in the north of England with great acting, realistic visuals and captivating plot lines.

Be absolutely sure you watch the U.K. version not the weak American copycat.
Be absolutely sure you watch the U.K. version not the weak American copycat.

While you’re at it and if you’re up for some rough working-class comedy/drama, check out Shamelessnot the insipid American copycat version starring William H. Macy, but the real deal, set in Manchester, U.K.  If you can handle Trailer Park Boys then you’ll be up for Shameless. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. They filmed an incredible seventy-nine episodes over a decade so I’m set for nice, long binge-watching sessions with my cup of tea by my side. The accents, sets, casting, writing and story lines of these British series are absolutely fascinating and I guarantee Anglophiles will be hooked right from the beginning. Give it a look. Wot?

Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=shameless+uk

P.S. Speaking of absolutely fascinating, watch for the new ABFAB movie starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley coming out this summer. And, of course you’re already watching the British lineup every Sunday night on PBS.

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