Getting past the annoying lines



by Martha Groppo

“What are you doing?”

“What’s bothering you?”

“What are you thinking about?”

These questions are often answered with the quintessential guy-line: “Nothing.”

The odd thing about this line is that you aren’t sure if you should be angry when he says it or not. Your initial reaction may be to think he’s trying to avoid telling you something that’s on his mind. “Nothing” can spark irritation, hurt or frustration.

Then you look into those eyes and realize … he just might be telling the truth. He might be doing nothing. He might have nothing bothering him. And he may, in fact, be thinking of absolutely nothing.

Ladies, at first I was skeptical too. I mean, how can you do nothing? But have you ever walked in on a bunch of guys hanging out? There really isn’t much going on. They can kill hours discussing a game they all already watched together or trying to catch Skittles in their mouths. Those video game all-nighters can involve an entire evening with five words spoken and only thumbs moving. Granted, this isn’t doing “nothing,” per se, but it’s nothing worth describing if asked “What did you do last night?”

I can’t picture a girl ever describing her evening out in this way. No matter what we did, no matter how minute, we did something. We watched a movie together, went for a run, went dancing, went out to a club, ate a ton of chocolate or counseled so-and-so, but we never did nothing.

I’m beginning to believe a guy can really have nothing bothering him. Ask a girl what is bothering her, and she can most likely come up with something. That’s not to say we’re always upset. But if you ask us, we’ll probably start wondering why you thought we might be upset, and then we’ll start thinking of reasons we might be upset, or we’ll just be upset that you thought we were upset. See? Not complicated at all.

Ladies, can you imagine thinking of absolutely nothing? Neither can I. At the very least, I would be thinking about how to think about nothing. But I’m pretty darn sure they’ve figured out how to do it. Maybe it’s like a car idling. Maybe that’s how they can fall asleep in 30 seconds flat.

The adage “nothing is impossible” may be true, but for guys nothing is definitely possible. Whether or not they are faking it when they respond with “nothing” remains to be seen, but the classic guy line is probably nothing worth doing, feeling or thinking anything about.

What do I mean by that?

Oh, nothing.

Have you ever noticed how guys get all excited about a date, do everything they can not to mess it up, then absolutely lose it when the girl butts in and makes a decision? No? That’s because it doesn’t happen. In fact, it’s never happened. Instead, the shes and hers of today would rather sit back and claim indifference; all while not so secretly wishing we had chosen something better.

I’ve been sympathetic as of late, trying to understand the intent to these female mind games, but this issue is one that warrants a response. We already put enough pressure on ourselves. Men, it’s time to hop back on the he-man woman-hating train. Next stop, “I don’t care.”

You’re lying. You do care. We know you care, and we care that you care. If we didn’t care what you thought, we wouldn’t have asked you in the first place. No one has ever accused a guy of being too complex, too critical. We’re not trying to play games. We just want to feel that you’re as involved as we are. If you more times than not “don’t care,” then it’s kind of hard to understand what you’re even doing there, here, with us.

This does go both ways. Guys are all the time saying, “I don’t know.” The truth is ladies, we do know. We know exactly what we want. In fact, that’s the only thing we do know, other than how we want to do what you want to do. When we want more than anything simply not to mess up, and to secure another outing, any and all participation by you is more than appreciated.

Now I’m not talking about the occasional head nod or shoulder shrug here. There have been times where entire conversations have been played out to the extent of one massive “idc.” (Which is in itself another dynamic I refuse to deal with.) All I’m looking for is something that says, “This is something I think would be fun for us to do together.”

So ladies, next time we ask you what you’d like to eat, or what movie you’ve been wanting to see, don’t hold back on us. It would take an incredibly ridiculous response for us to straight up tell you no. In all cases, we’re sure to entertain the idea in exchange for one more date.