Friday, June 19, 2009

I Married a Woman From Outer Space

A few years back there was a popular book, supposedly groundbreaking, in the field of behavioural psychology. It took three hundred or so pages to come to the conclusion that men are different from women. The book was Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray.

If I remember correctly, Oprah featured it on her show, and for months, previously bitter female partners were almost smiling as, for the first time in their relationships, they understood that their male partners were different. The male partners were also instructed to read the book, but mostly read the introduction, and then meekly submitted to their partner’s rambling on about inherent differences.

My guess is that those same women are now reading some other book that isn’t telling the whole story, and that Oprah has something to do with that, too. I remember my previous boss going on the Oprah diet, and losing half his sizeable bulk, before putting it back on in the same way she has. (Insert world-weary shrug here).

There are only so many times you can be told you need to embrace your inner whatsit, or cuddle your spiritual self. If you’re honest- you don’t even need to browse the self-help section in the bookshop. If the books actually helped, there’d be one for weight, one for general happiness, and one for learning how to get children to avoid becoming Satanists.

I ran a bookshop for a while. One customer was Michael Jackson, the troubled pop singer (I’ll avoid the less kind descriptions), who was staying in the huuuuuge hotel in the centre. He headed for the self-help section, and bought dozens of books. Kinda funny. Your name is the King of Pop, you are a living icon (or he was at the time), and you‘re buying ‘I’m Ok, You’re Ok’? He said he wanted to be left alone.

Not to belittle you if you have problems (hell- I’m a non-emotive man from Uranus, so whadda I know), but you could probably do as much positive self-reinvention by doing things you enjoy (no, not shooting snails with pellet guns or trying to improve your best-spitting-distance EVER)- I mean, a good book, relaxing, being around happy people…

You can take this with as much of a pinch of salt as you would the self-help section of the bookshop- I get needlessly depressed- guess it’s a physical thing- so I’m no authority. It’s just so much better when people are happy. I won’t become a cynic- despite what you’ve just read. Promise. Things like the conversation below give me hope and laughter again.

Hannah and James got into a serious conversation this week. For a six and a nine year old that can be very intense.

Hannah: What’s it called when you don’t eat meat?
James: A vegetarian.
Hannah: But what do you eat then?
James: Well, you can’t get your protein from meat so it has to come from soya or nuts.
Hannah: No! I’m allergic to nuts! I’d be dead!
Hannah: What’s it called if you just eat meat?
James: A carnivore.
Hannah: And if you eat meat and ven-getibbels?
James: An omnivore.

Enter Janine…

Hannah: Mommy, are you a meteor?

Love the way that kid thinks…



    Bloody good post.

    I normally find that if I'm depressed it's because I'm thinking of myself as a victim. Bullshit ... my ego's just been bruised and I'm feeling sorry for myself. Shit happens. To everyone. We get over it. We move on.

  2. @justBcoz: Wish I had an onoff switch for depression. Sometimes I get moments of clarity about how we should be- other times people just seem to be insane, everywhere I look. We do get over it, thankfully. We move on. Endless retro/introspection just sucks the life out of us.

  3. A truly blue funk is a good thing at times. If you've never experienced the bad, the sad, the ugly, how do you recognise the good, the great, the gorgeous when it comes along? I find it brings perspective. And wallowing. Which is good.

  4. @SMP: I dunno- I think a really 'good cry' is cathartic sometimes, but just feeling depressed is paralysing. Wallowing is good? If you are a hippopotamus, perhaps :-)

  5. Wallowing is the best. All the mud is good for the skin. You ever seen a hippo with pimples?

  6. One of my life goals (something I've wasted a lot of time on already) is to write a satirical self-help book that everyone takes seriously. Then, I want to do my talk show tour and tell them, "it's a joke." I'm absolutely convinced the book, "The Rules" was intended as a joke but they played it serious after they started making money.

  7. @SMP: We have hippos 5km down the road, but I've never seen one for fear of getting inbetween a mother and a calf. And if I did, the first thing I'd do is compliment them on their complexions to be on the safe side...
    @MDL: Need a cynical co-author?

  8. Mwaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaaaaaaaaaa...
    I have a shite load of books on ADHD, but no self-help books as such.

  9. @angel: That's because a self-help book on ADHD would have to have very, very short chapters :-)


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