Neanderthal Man is a forty-something, ex-British soldier who collects exotic knives and can strip down and re-assemble a semi-automatic rifle blind-folded. Until recently, he thought ‘chakras’ was a Latino pop star who sung about her hips not lying. But things are changing for the card-carrying caveman, ever since he met the Tree Hugger…
“Oh go on Honey, it’s a great chance for some honest male bonding!” burbled the Tree Hugger as she sipped her organic, GMO-free soy, decaffeinated, Fair Trade cappuccino. “A group of men sharing their deepest emotions, it’ll be very healing…” she blinked at me like a hopeful, doe-eyed Bambi and something inside me died.
Bless her little hippie socks, she wants me to do emotions because she thinks it’ll be good for me. So I, like a mug, was going to a healing workshop for men. Losing three hours of my life that could be spent shooting 3D bad guys on PlayStation with a flamethrower. I had visions of men sitting around in their underpants sobbing about being misunderstood, man-hugging, drum-beating, and blokes calling me ‘brother’. Kill me.
I’d rather spend three days in the rat- infested trenches with enemy fire whistling past my ears than three hours in a ‘safe circle’ of men talking about my feelings.
Dread shadowed me until the night arrived where I sat in a circle with eight other men. The facilitator was Neil, aged 68. His first revelation was that – wait for it, this is big stuff – “women,” he said, pausing for effect, “are driven by emotions and their hearts while men are ruled by logic and their heads.” I glanced around the group. Nope, no one fell off their chair at this astounding insight. Next, he said that women get frustrated when men don’t listen to them. Ah yes, guilty. That one’s me. I’ve mastered the art of moving my eyebrows and staring at the Tree Hugger so she thinks I’m listening to her when really I’m playing Call of Duty 3 in my head. When she catches me out, she is mad. Must get better at pretend listening. Perhaps introduce ‘uhuh’ and ‘mmm’ noises?
I glance at my watch. Ninety minutes in and not a single dirty joke. But then one of my fellow men’s support groupers (MSGs) said he had a question about ‘bedroom issues’. At last! We all leant forward, breaths held waiting for MSG to elaborate.
“How do you tell her that you hate what she’s doing in the bedroom?” he asked, looking at each of us. Poor bloke. That chat would end in tears, no mistake.
“I agreed with her that we needed to spice things up in the bedroom but I didn’t think that meant pink sheets and cushions…” Wait, hold on. He’s talking about cushions? And that’s when I did start crying. Neil passed me the tissues and whispered, “there there, that’s right, let it all out, you’re safe here…” while I sobbed into his shoulder. Tree Hugger was delighted when I told her. She said my emotional maturity was growing.
At least I think that’s what she said; I was moving my eyebrows about and shooting aliens with a flamethrower at the time.