I’m the kind of guy who likes to be alone just as much, and at times more than, being with others. What can I say, I’m a very interesting man. I’m also an eighteen-year-old student at an all girls grammar school; the sixth form is mixed, but I must say the ratios are pretty good (living the dream, baby). One thing that has come from being severely outnumbered by women on a daily basis, besides my newly acquired ‘international playboy’ lifestyle, of course, is the realisation that Man-Time is essential for survival.
One thing that is unavoidably noticeable to me is the attention females will pay to every aspect of your being, closely scrutinising your appearance with a hawk-like eye, before pausing… and judging you. If you’ve got new jeans- they’ll know about it. If you’ve got new shoes, they can sense it. They’ll smell a new t-shirt from a mile away and a new hair cut will be met with a procession of opinions on how they preferred it when it was long or that there’s too much gel in it and some has been smeared on your eyebrow. In the company of males, new jeans will go unnoticed, new shoes will not receive a second glance, a new t-shirt will be met with a grunt of approval or else be considered insignificant, and a new hair cut will result in a ruffle of the head and a brief remark before the hair you have had for the past eighteen months is almost instantaneously forgotten. As for the gel on the eyebrow? That will never go unnoticed. Things are simpler for males; the need to play the Xbox always overshadows the need to look good whilst doing it, and the awkwardness of complimenting another man’s appearance always overshadows the fact that it may just make their day. It’s science.
Another thing that can only happen during Man-Time is what is often referred to as ‘banter’, a word that I have grown to hate over the years solely due to phrases like “this guy is a bantersaurus rex!” and “all aboard the banter bus!”. Please note I am talking about the actual definition of banter, rather than the safe-word that allows you to punch someone in the back of the head and pass it off as ‘a bit of banter’. Anyway, my point: if you call a man an “ugly mug”, this will most likely be met by a snigger and a witty retort, or if nothing immediately comes to mind, a simple “your face is an ugly mug” will do nicely. On greeting a woman, do not open with “how have you been, you ugly mug?”, as some serious self-esteem damage could be done – within hours she may be scouring the internet for cheap face lifts, and you would be none the wiser.
Vanity and questionable jokes aside, Man-Time comes down to confiding in someone, doesn’t it? Sometimes a difficult dilemma can only be amplified by a chain reaction of smothering attention. Generally speaking, women are sensitive creatures, and often, a problem will be met by a truly flattering, but at times, overwhelming show of care; but sometimes you don’t want sympathy, sometimes you want someone to say, “You’re being a muppet” and then explain, as much as it may be an unpleasant revelation, the reasons behind your recent muppetry and abruptly snap you out of it before any more can come of it. Likewise, girls may find it harsh and cold to show such an attitude to a friend with a problem, but this is exactly why it’s so important to find someone, anyone, to put aside a couple of hours to talk each week. Someone who understands the problems that arise in life, but who also understands that the majority of problems, however visceral and real they may feel at the time, will sheepishly shuffle away once the insignificance they actually bare is exposed.
In a roundabout way, what I’m saying applies to all; it doesn’t just sit within the boundaries of Man-Time. I understand that a stereotypical view of both men and women has been depicted here; men will sometimes notice your new shirt, and will sometimes take the ‘hug it out’ option over a ‘firm but fair’ method of advice, and similarly, not all women are reluctant to call someone a muppet when necessary. What Man-Time represents is the vital importance of expressing your problems with someone who understands you. There’s that other well worn cliché, “a problem shared is a problem halved”, and as irritating and twee as it sounds when you put it like that, it is true that nothing’s going to change if you keep everything bottled up. How can it?