The Fly

“All women become like their mothers. That is
their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”
-Oscar Wilde

There’s a scene from the movie “The Fly” that nicely captures one of the most striking differences between men and women. The main character (a scientist) is turning into a fly and he looks really gross (super-icky gross to be exact). His girlfriend (a journalist) comes to check on him. After she arrives, he throws up on himself, then his ear falls off. What does his girlfriend do? Does she run away? Does she avoid him? No – she runs over and gives him a hug. I think we can all agree that if the woman had been the fly and she had just thrown up on herself, and her ear fell off, most guys would run to the door and say something like, “you probably want to be alone right now, I’ll call you sometime.”

I’m not saying that most guys morph into insects and puke on themselves (although I am sure that many do). I’m saying that women are generally better about meeting the emotional needs of other people. Carol Gilligan, a researcher at Harvard, believes this is because most of our early childhood nurturers are women. As young children, we learn that women clean up our messes and kiss our boo-boos (and hug us when our ears fall off).

What do we do with this information? I don’t know, but “The Fly” is a pretty cool movie.

I’ll be honest, I hate vomit. I hate my own vomit and I really hate other people’s vomit. I might hug my girlfriend if she puked on herself, but I would definitely give her a towel first. I really don’t know what I’d do if her ear fell off.

In any case, there must be a way to be more supportive that isn’t as gross as hugging someone covered in their own hurl, and I think I know what that is – I can be a better listener.

Being a really good listener is like letting someone throw up on you.

Figuratively speaking.

The way I see it, adults are just like kids, only they don’t yell out “look at me, watch me”. Still, that’s what everyone wants: to be seen and heard, to be witnessed by someone. If you want to be a good lover or a good friend, first be a good witness. That’s one of the things guys like most about women, the willingness to be a witness, to pay attention to someone else.

Healthy people are very careful with children. Careful of their feelings and of their vulnerabilities. We also try to pay attention to their accomplishments and to the changes through which they pass. Moreover, we are more tolerant when they throw up on themselves, or on us.
So how does someone become more attentive to other adults? I don’t know – I’m asking you. A friend recently told me that I’m the most self-absorbed person he knows, and I think he was being nice. So, if you have any advice, please send it to me care of this paper.

Now, as far as I can remember, I’ve never actually thrown up on a girlfriend. I have, however, emotionally vomited on a number of women, and I’d like to publicly apologize for that now. At the same time, I think we all need to puke emotionally every now and then – and if you love someone, you’ll hug them when they do.




Filed under Dating, Love, Philosophy

4 responses to “The Fly

  1. Judy Austin

    Steve my favorite quote is from my little book of NATIVE AMERICAN WISDOM as follows:
    Experience Everything
    To be a MEDICINE man you have to experienc everything, live life to the fullest. If you don’t experience the human side of everything, how can you help teach or heal? To be a good medicine man, you’ve got to be humble. You’ve got to be lower than a worm and higher than an eagle.
    Gift of Power

    Last time I threw up was on my friend’s colorful cowboy shirt that kept buying me more mixed drinks. He had to drive me home (my elderly mother lives with me) I told her this is my friend Kevin, he got me drunk now I am making him feed my animals. He is staying, but he is keeping his clothes on. Mom responded, I have never seen her like this! Kevin responded she is always like this when she is with me……Captain Morgan had a lot to do with it. So what does my mother do as I am still throwing up still in the morning? She fixed Kevin breakfast. Bacon, pancakes eggs the whole meal deal. When I smelled the bacon cooking I stayed in the bathroom hugging the toilet. He threw my butt in the shower, dried me off , put pajamas on me and came back later to go get my truck. Now that is a true friend!!
    Back to the point, Men are strong even when they are down. Men are the dragon slayers, they like living on the edge! Men are wonderful and we could not live without you! Myself I am a strong willed woman who dislikes wussie women. Can’t throw a bale of hay girl? Then get lost and go paint your fingernails. But I am also very femine. Nothing like dressing up for your man, having my long hair down with sweet perfume on and a big smile! The secret are the eyes are the window to the soul!!!!
    I met Spock w/ his big ears, however not pointed nor did they fall off, but each man has an intriguing mystery about them! You keep us interested and now I shall shut up and listen to you! Also thanks for the towel!
    Judy Austin

    • Judy- Wonderful, thoughtful response and anecdote (and also hilarious). Thank you for your lovely words!

      • Judy Austin

        Thank you Annalis! Especially comming from a very talented young woman. Your website is awesome!!!!

      • Judy Austin

        You are welcome Steve! Glad James suggested your fb page! I will definitely stay tuned into your posts. Speaking of tuned in. A dumb woman had a black eye, her husband said, “well if you would have been tuned in instead of broadcasting you wouldn’t have a black eye. Just a joke:) xoxoxox

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