Column: Research gives men a rock-solid excuse for not listening

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered that men and women listen differently.

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered that men and women listen differently. Duh! This should come as no surprise to anyone-especially married anyones.

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This research shows that women listen with both sides of their brains, while men listen with their ears. No, not really, that would make too much sense. The study shows that men listen with just the left side of their brains.

I know the fact that a man has two sides of his brain comes as a great surprise to many women. It only stands to reason that a male would listen with only half his brain. The rest of his brain is kept busy with important projects like trying to discover why beer nuts will not grow in the same flowerpot as his wife’s Christmas cactus.

My wife has been telling me about this finding for weeks. &uot;Did you hear about this study that shows men and women listen differently?&uot; she asked. Or at least that’s what I think she said. I tried ignoring her, a plan that never works. She repeated her question. I replied with an unbelievingly witty, &uot;Huh?&uot; Dazzled by my verbal brilliance, all my wife, The Queen B, could do was to repeat herself. I mumbled a sensitive, &uot;What?&uot;

She was not to be denied. &uot;I said that they have found that men and women listen differently. Women use both sides of their brains while men use only one side. Honestly, talking to you is like talking to that wall!&uot; I am quite sure this is what she said. I know that her lips were moving, but I was distracted by a pizza commercial that was running on the radio at the time. A special on pepperoni pizza within a day’s drive of the Batt Cave.

The Queen B told me that in this study, researchers measured the brain activity of men and women while the participants listened to taped excerpts of a John Grisham novel. The results showed that men were only thinking of one thing, &uot;I hope there won’t be a test on this.&uot; Women, on the other hand, were busy thinking about two things: &uot;I wonder what Oprah thinks about this book?&uot; and &uot;I wonder if this outfit makes my butt look big?&uot; I listened to the tape of Grisham’s book. It was great – something about a lawyer.

Before I continue, it might not hurt to define what a researcher is. A researcher is someone who is given a grant (another term for a large pile of money, usually taken out of the hide of the taxpayer) to discover something that the average bozo already knows. The researcher then publishes his or her findings at which time the public voices a collective, &uot;I knew that.&uot;

I couldn’t be happier with the findings of this particular study. It provides the average man with a great excuse for not doing things that his wife has told him to do. A great excuse with research data to back it up. It doesn’t get any better than that.

&uot;Did you take out the garbage?&uot; says my better half. &uot;I am truly sorry, dear. I remember you saying something, but the words must have gone to the wrong side of my brain. There is nothing I can do about it.&uot;

&uot;Did you pick up the groceries I asked you to?&uot; asks my lovely bride. &uot;You really can’t expect me to do things like that. Remember, I am a male.&uot;

&uot;The car is still filthy. Didn’t I ask you to wash it?&uot; says She Who Must Be Obeyed in an accusatory fashion. &uot;Car? Filthy? Wash?&uot;

Men, it is not our fault that we do not do the things we are asked to. Our main squeezes should not ask us to do things that involve anything that does not involve eating, drinking or sports. We give up so much once we get married – cooking, cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping and now they expect us to give up not listening, too?

The Queen B went on to say that the study doesn’t necessarily mean that women are better listeners than men are. She says that it might mean that listening is actually harder for women and that’s why they need to use both sides of their brain. Thereby occupying brain cells that could be better used for more important things like understanding zone defenses in football.

At least that’s what I think The Queen B was saying to me. She is always rattling on about something. I need to get her a hamster. I understand rodents are great listeners.

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.