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February 17, 2004

She Came Home

She came home with the news that a biopsy had been scheduled. It seems that the mammogram had clearly showed up the 2cm lump that she had felt in her right breast, and the ultrasound failed to rule out malignancy; hence a biopsy was to be done. She was understandably distraught and in shock. So was I. She was allowed to show it, and I was not. She went to bed although it was still light outside. I took a shower because I was sweaty from my afternoon workout.

When I got out of the shower I turned on the News Hour on PBS, just as I always do, and I could tell that this hurt her and she was disappointed in me. She had wanted more recognition, more pampering and sympathy. Here I was, seeming not to be affected to the point where I would even alter my afternoon routine to take account of the tragedy. I of course felt guilty and pled "no contest."

How could I expect a woman to understand? When those of us of the Male Persuasion are wounded, we don't cry. If you are a real man, (and particularly if you are a silverback acutely conscious of your waning strength and increasing dependence on others), the last thing you are inclined to do is depart from the normal routine when threatened. One of the other pack members, might interpret your behavior as a sign of weakness and be moved to challenge. Your instinct tells you that if you wish to keep your place in the order for another week, the last thing you can allow is the appearance of being knocked down by any new threat. This is the time to look and be strong, remain calm, be the rock, waiver not, falter never.

So you send all the wrong signals; not because you don't care; your reaction is just so hard-wired. It is a wonder that men and women manage to live together for as long as they do. We are so different and we communicate so poorly. Were it not for the need to nurture and raise offspring, it may not even be worth the effort.

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