Call me a backward sexist pig all you want, but I believe men and women to be different animals. I don’t say this in an oppositional way, as if the two should never be kept in the same cage or they’ll kill each other, I say it because if you stare long enough you’ll notice some things. You don’t see the gender disparity as much when they’re on their own, stressing about money, driving to work, forgetting their Netflix passwords, but if either gender spends too much time with their own kind the dichotomy becomes more apparent. There’s something about putting them in packs that touches on something primal.
Science has yet to properly explain what subatomic interactions allow males to communicate with each other without the use of the vocal chords, same with females. But the fact remains that both genders are part of oft dormant hiveminds, separate entities with fairly distinct drives and directives. As inflaming as it is to some people, there’s a reason that the same tired gender narratives come up again and again. I have seen these stories play out in case study after case study, but perhaps the most obvious example happened in my junior year of college, when an evening appeared to be in its last throes.
The night was old, and there were six juniors sitting there at the tail end of it. The two women, M and S, were on their couch nursing the last of their communal Merlot. Across from them on the floor, the men, J, E, D, and myself, bent sleepily over their Coors Lights. In between the groups a low table was strewn with playing cards, hollow cans, and a quarter handle of rum. The air was heavy with goodbye, that communal acknowledgement that all possible excitement had been milked out of the evening and the first person to announce their departure would start a cascade of exits. But nobody had said farewell yet, so we were silently enjoying each-others’ presence in the early morning.
Everybody who was trying not to fall asleep on their drink is connected in some way. The four of us men are fraternity brothers. The two women are roommates and sorority sisters. I dated M briefly, but J and S have been dating since they were in the seventh grade. On this night they are in the eighth year of their relationship.
Leading up to this point nothing of the night had been particularly noteworthy, we had drank while playing cards, discussed the sloppy politics of greek life, listened to the song Dance A$$ by Big Sean on full volume. So in this moment of quiet friendship I imagine most people were thinking of one of two things: One, they were reflecting on our evening, picking out the bits and pieces that they would want to remember for times to come. Two, putting the words of their farewell in order, gathering up the wherewithal to say them aloud. After all, nothing else was to come of this night.
There we were, resting in the long gap between spoken words, when she felt the need to say it. Something so seismic that it rattled everybody to their core, revealing only the primal drives beneath. S looks at her boyfriend of nearly a decade next to his friends of barely two years and says it:
“J, when are you going to give me a baby?”
Deafening silence. Stillness. Magic. Something in the male genome starts to vibrate at a certain frequency. We become one lifeform, one thought process. Without words every man in the room rises to their feet. One of our eight hands reaches out for the rum. With all the solemnity and order of a funeral procession we walk to the bathroom. A hand closes the door and we are alone in the darkness.
Within that bathroom, adorned with feminine touches, there are no words. The only consistent noise is the bottle being moved from one hand to another and the rum slapping against the glass before being dragged out of the opening and into oblivion. D urinates within mere inches of the rest of us without missing his place in the rotation. E nods his head to an unheard tempo. J stares, shellshocked, at the sink. I try to grasp what has just transpired. The only light in the room is from a small night light bathing the whole scene in a cultish glow. This is the defensive response of the male hive mind. It has encountered something that fundamentally violates all principles it has regarding reproduction age and it is reaching out for alcohol to build a cocoon. It is beautiful. The three of us watch J down the last of the rum. Our duty done, the door is opened.
When we return to our spots in the quiet room we find M picking empties off of the table and throwing them in the trash. S is sitting sheepishly on the couch looking into her glass of wine. When we sit the first words out of her mouth are, “okay, so I may have been a tad bit aggressive there…” freeing everybody in the room up to untense and move forward with the rest of their evening. What happened the remainder of the night is essentially rote. Everyone said goodbye, and since Uber had not been invented, we walked home to sleep our way into a hangover. Never to really discuss these happenings again.
Upon cursory review this story seems like a mere example of a girl who had too much wine and asked a question seven years too early, but with careful study it reveals something far more subatomic in nature. Whether this ability to broadcast fears and directives through wavelengths is learned or inherent I do not know, but I do know I experienced that unspoken link between members of the same sex that few ever get to see. An episode of Planet Earth doused in alcohol.