And It's All True
14 Of Men's Oddest Quirks
By Dan Bova for Redbook
Men: We're big fans, truly we are. But every once in a while, we could use a little help understanding some of the bizarre things they think, say and do. Here, our intrepid guy reporter answers your burning questions about 14 of men's oddest quirks.
1. Why won't he stop and ask for directions?
You've all been there. "There" being nowhere near where you are supposed to be because the Magellan wannabe behind the steering wheel would rather drive around in circles, cursing at street signs for hours, than pull into a gas station and ask for help. But his resistance isn't merely macho - it comes from a primal, evolutionary place, explains Allan Pease, coauthor of Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps. "Men had to rely on spatial skills to survive - they needed to know where to throw the spear to hit the zebra running at high speeds. They also needed to remember how to get back home with the meat. So to have to stop and ask for directions is to admit you've failed at your number one evolutionary task!"
In other words, our big, fat egos are at stake -- even if the task at hand isn't exactly life-and-death. "If Columbus could find America, I feel like I should be able to find my niece's third-birthday party," says Rich, 35, a geologist from Miller Place, NY.
2. Why is he obsessed with the Discovery Channel?
Flip to the Discovery Channel at any given moment and you'll see people blowing things up, animals eating each other or men with ridiculous mustaches riding around on motorcycles. It's everything we wish we were doing instead of working from 9 to 5 every day (besides the getting-eaten-by-a-wild-jackal part).
3. Why does he love quickies so much?
It's simple mathematics. Dudes experience spontaneous sexual hunger about twice as often as women, according to a study conducted at Oxford University. Add to that the fact that 30 percent of men experience premature ejaculation at some point in our lives, and you've got an equation for a quickie. Nick, 31, an actor from Braintree, MA, has a somewhat less scientific explanation for the male proclivity for fast-and-furious love: "More pleasure, less effort," he says. "It's like my favorite beer - tastes great, less filling."
4. Why can't he be bothered to wrap a present?
So we think the store bag counts as wrapping paper. It's not because we're uncaring jackasses. As evidenced by many a single guy's apartment, where a $2,000 TV set can coexist happily with a coffee table fashioned from a cardboard box, attention to detail often eludes us. We see the big picture -- i.e., the gift -- but little finishing details like bows and ribbons seem superfluous and inconsequential.
And believe it or not, there is actually a lot of loving thought that goes into the lack of shiny paper and Scotch tape. "When I've bought my girlfriend something expensive from a fancy store, I want her to know that it's the real deal and not some knockoff I bought on the street," says Jimmy, 32, from Bowling Green, OH. "Giving it to her in the store bag proves it." And, really, isn't a pretty blue Tiffany shopping bag nicer to look at than something wrapped in three-year-old Christmas paper and duct tape?
5. Why can't he throw out those junky T-shirts from college?
No, we don't think armpit-stained Guns N' Roses concert tees are the must-have item this fall. Two impulses make us hold onto those old shirts until they fall off our bodies: One is -- yes -- sentimentality. "This is where men and women are alike," says Nick. "This is the X in our XY chromosomes. Whenever I put certain old shirts on, I can't help but remember a game of touch football or the first hike I went on with my fiance while I was wearing that shirt." The other reason we can't part with our tees is that guys are, well, kinda lazy. Throwing something out requires effort -- and replacing it requires one of the most dreaded activities in a man's life: going to the mall. If it's comfortable and covers our torso to a reasonable degree, both our hearts and our shopping phobia will have us holding onto it for dear life.
6. Why does he call his friends by rude nicknames?
Your husband is on the phone with one of his buddies and just referred to him by a funny but foul name. Are they in the middle of a fight? Just the opposite, says Austin, 31, from New Orleans: "Only someone who loved us would say something that harsh to our face." Allan Pease explains, "Giving friends nicknames shows an emotional connection, but the filthy humor prevents it from being too emotional, which makes men uncomfortable."
7. Why does he **bleep** at chitchatting on the phone?
It's all about hormones, says relationship expert John Gray, Ph.D., author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. "Oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress in women, is stimulated through communicating and collaborating. For men, testosterone reduces stress - and it's stimulated through solving problems and competition. Chitchatting is basically the opposite of accomplishing anything. It can actually lower a guy's testosterone levels, and he'll start feeling uncomfortable and bored."
8. Why must he repack the car when you fit everything in fine?
Whether you are loading Costco loot for the short ride home or shoving suitcases in the trunk for a cross-country trek, there is one thing you can be sure of: Whichever way you cram everything in will be "all wrong." Why do guys insist that they're expert packers? "Well, typically a man is better at packing the car," laughs Gray. (Yeah, we men stick together like that.) "Most research reveals that men have a much more developed sense of spatial perception, which is what makes a person good at arranging things." And don't be fooled by those moans and complaints he makes about having to redo your alleged packing disaster. "We love the challenge," admits Nels, 34, a writer from Savannah. "It's like a life-size game of Tetris."
9. Why does he always think it is 20 degrees hotter than it really is?
Some experts say men have a higher internal temperature. Others say that more body hair = warmer bodies. Whatever the reason, all guys agree: If you need to pile seven blankets on the bed every time the temperature dips below 68 degrees, keep them on your side of the bed!
10. Why does he have a garage filled with power tools he never uses?
Guys are born to love gizmos - literally. In a study of newborns who were given the choice of looking at a human face or a mobile, the majority of boy babies were more interested in looking at the whirling, twirling thingy than the adoring person making goo-goo faces. (Baby girls, conversely, preferred human interaction. Weirdos.) In addition to this apparently instinctive love of things that spin and buzz at the push of a button, many guys experience a kind of nostalgia when perusing the Black and Decker aisle at Sears. "It's often his attempt to live the fantasy of being the Man of the House," says Pat Love, Ed.D., author of The Truth About Love. We grew up seeing our dads and grandpas running around with hammers and monkey wrenches fixing (or making worse) whatever ailed the house. We want to be just like them, not some 21st-century wienie who's afraid to chip a nail. Having the tools on hand at least gives us the illusion of competence.
11. Why doesn't he want to talk about his day when he gets home?
"I just want to leave all the annoying crap of the day behind me and think about nothing for a while," says Jim, 31, a father of two from Beacon, NY. At the end of the day, men are tired of thinking, and, more important, we're tired of talking. "Studies show that women use 8,000 to 9,000 words a day. Men use 2,000 to 4,000 words a day on average," explains communication expert Allan Pease. "By the time they come home from work, they've used up their words. And women have 5,000 left to go."
12. Why can he remember the score of a baseball game played 10 years ago, but forgets his own mother's birthday?
Sixty percent of men forget birthdays and anniversaries, compared with only 16 percent of women, according to one British survey. Are all guys idiots? (Don't answer that!) "Birthdays and anniversaries are linked to emotional events, which brain-imaging studies show that the male mind doesn't respond to as much as the female mind does," says Pease. On the other hand, as we've already seen, testosterone is what really soothes the male soul, and watching or competing in sports is one of the primary things that gets it pumping. "You hold onto those scores and memories because they make you feel good," John Gray notes.
13. Why does he get jealous about a boyfriend from seventh grade?
Bringing up an old flame, no matter how innocently, is a sure way to ignite the fires of jealousy in your guy's heart. Men, you may have noticed, can be incredibly competitive, and as Pat Love notes, "Talking about an old boyfriend makes him feel powerless. He's thinking, 'How can I compete with a memory?'" He can attempt to outwit - or, in the worst-case scenario, punch out - some guy he thinks is flirting with you at a bar, but there is nothing he can do about little Johnny Smith, who held hands with you on that field trip to the natural history museum. Man, we hate that guy.
14. What's up with all the lesbian fantasies?
"Two words: No penises," says Jimmy. Truth is, in the pantheon of ridiculous sex fantasies floating around the male mind, one scenario reigns over all others: stumbling upon two women going at it hot and heavy, and being asked to join in the fun. And watching two porn actresses experience **bleep** after **bleep** with each other (they wouldn't fake it, right?) is the closest 99.9 percent of men not named Hugh Hefner or Dirk Diggler will ever get to living that fantasy.