Men Having "Coffee"...
I was sitting in a coffee shop the other night, writing between appointments and I had a kinda weird experience...
First off, it is a coffee shop in Santa Barbara, so they also sell beer. When I got there about 6 pm on a Tuesday, in fact, they told me there was no coffee (that part closed at 5) and what I could order was a beer and an empanada. Not wanting either, I opted for a Topo Chico and called it good.
I was the only one there, guess there isn’t a huge market for beer and empanadas on a Tuesday in Santa Barbara...
So I sat in the front outdoor area, alone, drinking my expensive bougie water, writing. I also took in the people walking by and played a game I like to play called Tourist? I try to guess who is from out of town...and who is a local. It is kinda fun, I rarely know if I am completely correct, but I am pretty sure I am spot on most of the time...
So I am sitting there writing, feeling in the zone and enjoying my quiet evening alone. I was in the midst of writing when two men rolled in on their bikes...which I thought was weird. Why come to a coffee shop that is only currently selling beer and empanadas when there are literally hundreds of other places to go on Tuesday in Santa Barbara?
I will never know why they selected this place or why for the love of God, with all the indoor and outdoor space (until they arrived I was the only one there save the people who worked there) they chose to sit in the table next to mine. But they did which immediately annoyed me. There were tons of other places to sit but they sat next to the woman writing quietly...and began to chat.
I could hear everything they said, like every single word and even though I was doing my best not to listen to their conversation, I was privy to it all the same.
And while I didn’t listen, listen, it struck me at how different men’s conversations and “guy time" differs from women’s conversations and “girl time”. It struck me so much that I found myself taking notes...leaving the piece I was currently writing and formulating this one that I am writing now...
First of all, they didn’t have coffee, they had beer. And unlike me, they seemed to know all about the lack of coffee, but plentiful supply of beer and empanadas. Who knew? And I wondered is this something men just innately know? Do their conversations just naturally gravitate towards things like, “hey, do you want to grab a coffee, fuck, what was I thinking? Grab a empanada and a beer tomorrow night?” I am pretty sure that in all my life, no one has ever suggested this.
Anyway, they were all over the whole empanadas and beer situation, so after they acquired the goods, they sat down and that is when things got very interesting...(spoiler alert - it wasn’t really interesting, which was the interesting part...more on that shortly...)
Their conversation was fascinating to me. Mostly because it lacked substance and interesting subject matter...here is what they talked about in order of appearance...
Their kids school and related academic prowess - one actually emailed a kid's teacher while we sat there...
Investments - theirs, of course.
Business - they obviously worked in tech and were co-workers so they talked about this a great deal.
Power tools - I shit you not, they literally became almost orgasmic in their conversation about their power tools...it was riveting...yes pun intended.
Biking events - they did ride up on their bikes, clad in all the type of gear serious cyclists would sport. Not a good look in my opinion...but that is just me. I will completely own to having an unfair prejudice against biking fanatic men...I am not sure where it comes from, I just know it is there. When dating, it is a thing that moves a guy from a yes to a no. And there isn’t even a brief respite in maybe land.
Mountain biking events - they missed the one this year and were both pretty devastated about it...but they were hopeful that next year, the stars would align and they would be able to fit that into their busy schedules.
Instagram posts about cycling - I mean, of course, right?
Finances and cost cutting - they were very budget conscious...and had a lot of ideas.
Work - when I say this, they talked about work, not about people or personalities or even their feelings about work, they literally talked about work...like actual doing of work while eating empanadas and drinking beer.
I would feel worse about all my eavesdropping but they kinda brought it on themselves, in a completely empty venue they chose to sit right next to me and have this very uninteresting, interesting conversation. So I am kinda sorry, not sorry for this post.
The conversation was boring. It was full of ego and evincing a life that kinda made me want to kill myself. I could picture their lives and I wanted to scream for them. It seemed incredibly dull and vapid...
What was fascinating to me was what they didn’t speak about...
How they felt about their boring tech jobs
How riding made them feel
How they felt about themselves
Whether they were happy
What were they afraid of
Were they happy in their marriages
Stuff like that...neither of them ever got close to talking about anything personal. It was all superficial and fluff. There was absolutely no substance to their conversation. There were several times that I almost turned to them and asked them how they felt about any of the things they were talking about. At one point I wanted to scream the following...
“OK, YOU HAVE A LIFE HERE THAT YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY ENGAGED IN, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY? WHAT DEVASTATES YOU? WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU IN THIS LIFE?”
I didn’t do that but I wanted to, repeatedly.
I was so struck at how their entire conversation was devoid of emotion, attachment and feeling. There was a great deal of information shared, but there was very little communication going on.
I was also struck about how different men and women converse. Now if that would have been two women, well, that wouldn’t have happened because two women would never go to a place that only served beer and empanadas...and they would have never spent an entire hour talking about nothing.
If two women would have been inserted into the scene, I imagine the conversation would have included, but would not be limited to, the following:
Worry over their marriage and kids
Their sex life or lack of sex life with their husband
The affair they are about to have or are already having
About their child who is failing at school or needs to go to rehab again
Work - how they feel about it and most especially who they don’t like at work, and also that their husbands needed to get a job, or stop working so much
I am absolutely positive their would be no conversations about powertools unless vibrators count
Vacations they would like to take or are in fact taking
Money but in a much different way and manner - like they have too much of it or not enough or they spend too much of it, or their husband needs to make more of it
Instagram - and how it makes them feel like shit about themselves and that they are going to take a break from it, any day now
How they feel about all of the above
Completely, totally different conversations about similar topics (power tools excepted). And it struck me that as much as I thought the men’s conversation lacked depth and heart and weight, it did occur to me that the men, if we were to change positions in this evening, would likely think the same thing about the female version of the conversation...they might find it tedious and tiring and much ado about nothing...
As I packed up to leave (I had dinner plans with another woman at a place that served things other than beer and empanadas) I just marveled at how different we were, I mean, both human and having germane subject matters, but how we would discuss the topics, so incredibly diverse.
And I as I sat down with my female companion and we delved into the depths of heartbreak, loss, longing, recovery, deeply seated feelings of loss and powerlessness, childhood trauma and the related adult sized dysfunction, I smiled to myself. I mean, how could I not? I was now having a very intimate conversation with someone about most of the same topics that I had just heard the men have but it was a wholly different conversation.
And while I am not saying one is better than the other, I walked away knowing that I am very grateful to be female and capable of having conversations like the one my girlfriend and I had. And also, I was very interested and somewhat mystified by the male conversation I couldn’t help but overhear...I mean, perhaps really when men are asked "what are you thinking?" and they say “sports”, “work”, and the like they really mean it. Who knew?
Well, I didn’t but I do now...men having coffee looks almost nothing like women having coffee. Now you know too...you are welcome.