When you wish upon a star, your dreams don't necessarily come true.
I just thought I'd clear that up. Also, one day your prince may come, but maybe he won't. And, really, he's unlikely to be a prince. He's more likely to be someone with your own commoner background. And strangely he will not act like the man in that romance novel you read yesterday, but like himself.
Occasionally readers complain that I simplify "What Men Are Like", and it is quite true that I do not always embrace the totality of the male psyche. There may be as many types of men as there are men; however, each one is not, as are angels, his own species. There are common male patterns of thought and behaviour, and many great artists have tried very hard to capture and express Man through their male characters.
This is in direct contrast to the many lousy artists have just expressed what they think female consumers will buy. And, let's be honest, many good women artists have captured not Man but their fantasies about Man, just as many good men artists have captured not Woman but their fantasies about Woman. I love him, and I want him to be real, but I am not so sure Lord Peter Wimsey is entirely believable.
Guido of Frederico Fellini's 8 1/2, however, is all too believable, and if I were going to organize an "Understanding Men" course, I would most definitely include 8 1/2. I don't think Guido is typical of all men--probably the man he most resembles is the late Frederico Fellini--but I think he is a lot closer to the reality of Man than, say, Laurie in Little Women.
Another film that would make the list is Fight Club. I once asked Max (buy my book and you'll learn all about Max, or what I thought about Max, anyway), if he liked Fight Club, and he lit up like a Christmas tree. He enthused about Fight Club in German, so I don't know in detail what he said, but I got that Fight Club was enormously important to him and that he thought it important to all young men of 2006.
If I had been thinking, I would have asked Max if he thought, therefore, that men were somewhat schizoid--torn between an internal compassionate Narrator and an internal seething Tyler Durden--but on the other hand, my German was too basic for such deep philosophical speculations, and so was his English. The next time you watch Fight Club with your brother or boyfriend, ask him. Oh, scrap that--I forgot about the sexual content. You probably don't want to watch Fight Club with your brother or boyfriend. Well, ask your brother or boyfriend the next time the subject of Fight Club comes up.
Incidentally, I recently saw a very funny bio-pic about Toby Young, a British journalist hired by an American magazine. When given the choice of being seduced by a gorgeous starlet and taking the car keys away from his drunken female colleague, Toby takes the keys way from his colleague and gloomily drives her home. This, I take it, is still the Paramount/MGM idea of a decent man, and I'm grateful for that.
Of course, even better than learning about men from artefacts composed by men about men for men is sitting quietly in (or near) groups of men observing how they behave. You can really learn a lot by sitting quietly and observing. It is one of my favourite past times these days, after a lifetime of talking almost non-stop.
This may sound obvious, but a number of my readers were homeschooled and I myself went to an all-girls high school, so I know what it is like to have no real idea what men are like, and to fill up the knowledge gap with a lot of nonsense. My crazy math teacher said that boys didn't give a damn about girls (preferring mathematics), and I actually believed her. How sad. If I had older brothers, they might have refuted this, but instead I had only younger brothers, who went to all-boys schools and knew very few girls.
The important thing, when trying to learn about a person--or anything else, really, is not to turn off your brain when you see or hear something you don't like or didn't expect. You don't have to react if you don't want to, but you do have to collect the unpleasant or unexpected information for your internal database. It might be a good idea to ask questions, both to confirm the information and to remember it better.
You: What do you mean "Gentlemen prefer blondes?"
Him: Oh, well, I guess I mean I prefer blondes.
You: You prefer blondes to women with other colours of hair?
Him: Um, ah, well. I don't mean to offend anybody, but yeah.
Him: I don't know. Moving right along...
(And you memorize the facts that he prefers blondes, and that he told you, a blonde/a non-blonde, this information. As a man, he has certainly noticed that you are blonde/non-blonde.)
One good way to get information about a man is to ask him what men think. Unless he is of a philosophical turn of mind, he will not tell you that men think different things and that all men are different. He will tell you what he thinks men think, which is what he thinks. The man who says "Any red-blooded male will tell you that..." is most definitely expressing who he is.
The great caveat is that men often do not think what you think they SHOULD think. If you express distress or anger, your source of information will shut right down. File the information, go away and ponder it. Meanwhile because men are so frightened of making women angry, don't be surprised if they don't tell you, or say "Why are you asking me?"
The answer to that is, "Because I think you'll give me a straight answer, one that will help me understand what men think." Meanwhile, asking men what men think can be construed as a very personal question, so keep it for men you know well.