Shadows of Men: What's It About?
What’s with men? and their ghosts.
Let me first say that I understand the dangers of generalizing certain traits to certain groups; it is not fair and usually wrong. On the other hand, this essay and song are based on observations from my practice; they are not intended to reflect the realities of all men. When women come in for an appointment, communication is not usually a problem; the words flow. With men, it can be quite different.
For example, “John” shows up very early for his appointment then gets ticked off about having to wait. This is his first appointment in 6 years. Entering the examination room, I already know I’m in for trouble. He sits there with one arm around the back of the chair, his feet planted in a wide “manspread”. He looks…... challenging. (Let me be clear that I am not an alpha male; I am not even a beta male. I am more of an omega male lurking in the basement of the Greek alphabet). Our conversation goes something like this:
Me: Hi John! What can I help you with today?
Me: Well, what seems to be the problem?
John: There’s no problem.
Me: (refusing to give up) Why did you make an appointment to see me today?
John: I didn’t make the appointment; my wife did. She made it 2 months ago and just told me this morning!
Me: Why did your wife think you needed an appointment?
John: I don’t know; why don’t you ask her?
I love this situation, because I get to use one of my favourite tricks. I whip out my phone, look up her number and start placing the call.
John: No! No! Put away the phone! She’ll just bitch about the chest pain I’m havin’.
Me: Are you having chest pain?
John: Yeah, but it’s OK. I have a high pain tolerance. (I love that one!)
Me: When do you get the chest pain?
John: Oh, when I walk up the stairs, or even when I’m just sittin’ watchin’ the game. I have a few smokes and it goes away.
Me: Do you have any other symptoms with the chest pain?
John: I never noticed; I’m too busy puking and sweating like a pig.
Me: (with my “outside voice”) Hmmm. We should probably look into this.
The words in the bubble over my head: Hmmm. I have an idea. - WHY DON’T WE CALL AN AMBULANCE “CODE 4” AND GET YOU TO THE FREAKIN’ HOSPITAL FOR AN URGENT BYPASS BEFORE YOU DROP DEAD IN MY OFFICE!!
The funny thing is that once “John” and I work through this and get him the help he needs, we are best friends forever. We can really talk and he’ll freely share his symptoms and feelings with me.
Why are we like this? Why can we not admit that we aren’t perfect, that we are vulnerable?
Quick Fact: Men commit over 80% of all violent crimes. Why? They keep putting us in prison and making us take anger management courses, but the statistics have just been getting worse over the last 20 years. Is it nature or nurture? Is it “bred in the bone”?
Sometimes when I see one of my brethren in the office, it’s like he’s haunted by something bad that happened in his past…..but he’s not telling.