Me Tarzan

Picture the scene

Two desultory mexicans walk down the beach at sunset nursing a couple of coronas. A light breeze nudges the waves ashore in the twilight, their ripples not loud enough to drown out the sounds of the men's voices. It becomes clear one is comforting the other. As he comes to the aid of his friend, two words from the latter float over the ripples and out across the glassy sea. Two words repeated. La brujaLa bruja... mayne. La bruja. As they walk off down the beach, the words linger for a minute in the fading light, the sounds circling in the air before being eventually swallowed up by the gentle lapping of the foam at the water's edge.


The biggest chasm that exists in this world, the greatest divide that pervades our existence, is not that one between rich or poor, black or white, between the free and the enslaved, between mars and snickers, the biggest divide on the planet is categorically the one between male and female. I've had two long-term girlfriends and neither of them ever accepted the fact that some people clinically need to have their back scratched on an around the clock basis. Ask my GP i'm not making this stuff up.

Between chuffs on his Cohiba, dreamcatcher Sigmund was on a similar tip.

The great question that has never been answered, and which i have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is 'what does a woman want?'

Sigmund Freud 1856-1939 father of psychoanalysis

There's a short novela written in the first part of the 19th century by this guy Benjamin Constant, called Adolphe. It's a thinly-veiled autobiographical account of a mad intense love affair between a young man and a lady of the french high society. He hunts her down, she rejects him again and again, he persists, finally she relents, the tides turn and she becomes consumed by him, the situation becomes unbearable and darkness ensues. It was hailed as a mini-masterpiece upon publication.

We studied it at school, and while researching an essay i remember finding in the endnotes a quote by literary Iron Man and consumer of fifty-plus cups of coffee a day Honoré de BalzacThe interesting thing about this book, said Balzac, is that it will be read and interpreted completely differently by men and by women. What Balzac was saying, was that the differences between the male and female psyches would make even objective opinion over this book radically different. The disparity between the two mindsets was, for Balzac, fuel enough to carve a grand canyon down the middle of opinion, a chasm from which both sexes might stand on either side, hands on hips, locked in an almighty stare-down with each other. 

Ergo, in any conflict involving both men and women, what is deemed right or wrong will more often than not be different on account of gender. Men are from mars women are from venus. Two pieces of the jigsaw that fit perfectly doesn't always match up to the picture on the box. 

Which makes for an interesting state of affairs.


Nature doesn't really have this problem. If we look at the animal kingdom the men don't tend to stick around for those long heady summer afternoons in the backyard teaching little jimmy to play ball. 

The male's roll is to inseminate

Everything else, almost all of what we behold in the animal kingdom, is then done by the female. I mean there are a tiny number of exceptions, but who cares about the exceptions. What requires our attention is the rule. And post-insemination, the female is pretty self-sufficient. Fair enough without the seed she's going to have trouble getting out of 1st, but after that it's a smooth exit onto the north circular, just her, the baby-bump, and Women's Hour on full blast. 

Nature works differently. I have all the Attenborough boxsets on lockdown. In almost all cases the male does his business, and leaves. He might protect the group for a minute on account of the offspring and their survival, but he doesn't spend years obsessing over the lioness with whom he shared 17 seconds of intense amorous exertion.

But animals don't fall in love. At least hardly any of them. 

I did some research and found that like all things evolution cares to dream up, love in humans has a specific purposeTrees began to disappear millions of years ago. So our ape-like forefathers would climb on down, rush out onto the grasslands, stand up on two feet, collect what they could to eat, and race back to a place where they were protected. With the beginning of standing, came walking

And with that, women had to begin to carry their babies in their arms, not on their back. Females began to need a partner to help them rear their baby, which evolved in the human animal the brain circuitry for romantic love and for deep profound attachment to another individual, the very hallmarks of humanity. 


Cut to human beings well into the 21st century, doing their thing, and now we see men and women not only procreating, but harbouring the best of intentions to spend the rest of their lives together, well beyond the rearing of their progenies. To have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. Which given Balzac's opinion on the matter, makes for an even more interesting state of affairs. 

I mean, is this really necessary. Might the status quo not need some reassessment. Millions of years after the seed for romantic love was sown, and this idea of monogamy first floated, i still don't think men are ready for this stuff. Beyond spraying our seed, i'm not sure we've caught up with what's required of us.

My man Guy is weeks away from being a dad, and he doesn't have a clue what is going on. 

Just look at the fear in his eyes. I'd say those are just the beginning of his problems. 

Because even after millions of years of conditioning, monogamy is still a strange thing. A french author called Esther Perel wrote a book called Mating In Captivity in which she drops copious bombs about the trials of longterm love in the grips of cohabitation.

At the heart of sustaining desire in a committed relationship is the reconciliation of two fundamental human needs. On the one hand, our need for security, predictability, safety, dependability, reliability, and permanence. But we also have an equally strong need, man and woman, for adventure, for novelty, mystery, risk, surprise, danger, the unexpected, and the unknown.

We come to one person and we are basically asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide. Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe, give me comfort, give me edge, give me novelty, give me familiarity, give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it's a given, and we think toys and lingerie are going to save us with that. 

She asks questions like... can desire really be sustained in the long term. Can you reconcile the domestic and the erotic in the same relationship. Can you expect intimacy and sexuality with the same person for the long haul. Why does good intimacy not lead to good sex. Can we want what we already have. Why is the forbidden so erotic. What it is about transgression that makes desire so potent. And why does sex make babies, given that babies spell erotic disaster in couples. 

What she alludes to - sorry Guy - as the fatal erotic blow.


The Sunday Times then wrote an article which was even more propane to the flame, talking about how extra-marital affairs have been an important part of our genetic main-frame all along.

New research challenges the widespread assumption that humans are meant to be monogamous and that breakups are a sign of failure. Instead the 'mate-switching hypothesis' suggests that humans evolved to constantly test their own relationships and check for better long-term options. 'Lifelong monogamy does not characterise the primary mating pattern of humans. Breaking up with one partner and remating with another - mate-switching - may more accurately characterise the common, perhaps the primary, mating strategy of humans'.


This is not looking at all good.

We've basically got ourselves into a situation where beyond sex, we're living in close quarters with people we fundamentally don't understand, who can't give us everything we want, and who are pre-programmed to want to jump into bed with people other than ourselves. Why do we need love. Why do we need to have relationships at all. Is it because we're afraid of being alone. Is it important to give yourself over completely to someone? No other person can ever know the depths of what is going on in our heads. We're born alone. We die alone. We feel alone. We are alone. 

So what's the point, what is it that led Haddaway's brain to move through the gears back in '93.

You can tell by his choice of threads that Haddaway was no fool, the all-important question he was asking was essentially the same one that was flummoxing Freud, the same one torturing the desultory mexican walking down the beach in the twilight, being comforted by his compadre. La bruja means 'the witch'. It is a term used by south american men to describe women, a term of reverence.

Because women are fundamentally bewitching, all men are under their spell, consumed by them and afraid of them all at once. Women rule shit. They rule everything. Speaking as a man, by sheer dint of the fact that you - women - carry life within you and bear it, you understand this whole thing more completely. Physically and intrinsically you are more intertwined with the process. I think you're above us. Mother Nature is female after all. I've never heard any allusions to nature being male. 

Notwithstanding our differences, and our lack of mutual understanding, perhaps at the end of the day it's just nice to get balls deep in something, metaphorically. I've spent the last four sundays watching dvds on my own, hugging pillows. And it's starting to get pretty depressing. My parents bust each other's balls every day, but as much as they try to tell me at times they wish they did, they can't live without each other. 

And as the french lady said, our differences, and all the ball-breaking that ensues...

'are more a paradox that we manage, rather than a problem that we solve'.


Men aren't from mars. Women aren't from venus. We're all from this hunk of earth, third rock from the sun. And when we screw this place up - as sure we will, all you have to do is look at the latest Nasa findings on average-temperature increase - we can all warp-speed out to Proxima b and keep evolving, and see where on earth that takes us.

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