“Gentlemen”, said Miss Marple, primly, “require three solid meals a day”. She also pronounced the word “gentlemen” as if speaking about an alien species. This immortal quote from Agatha Christie sums up the difference between sexes in a nutshell. Generally, if you want to know anything and everything about life, read Dame Agatha. She has a unique gift of drawing a full length detailed portrait in just a few words. What’s a meal, indeed? When I listen to teenagers discussing the topic at my lessons, it is often the same revelation which never ceases to amaze me, and also my female students. Young men would enthusiastically talk about breakfast which consists of stuffed pancakes or pies, plus porridge, sandwiches, meatballs with fried potatoes, juice, cocoa, tea, in no particular order. And in an hour or two they are ready to repeat the process. It is a truth universally acknowledged that adolescent boys are always hungry; they are also voracious and omnivorous. The way they gobble up almost any food and ask for more is quite an education. Here’s another suitable quote. In the movie “Casper”, the hero is miraculously granted a final meeting with his late wife. And she tells him: “Remember, hamburgers and French fries…” He nods and finished the sentence together with her: “… are not a breakfast meal”. Well, for young men they obviously are.

Girls would regard a banana or an apple or a yogurt as a meal. And it is OR, not AND. (Imaging offering such a “meal” to men.) Actually this remains a guiding principle throughout life. Show us a nice cake with lots of fruit piled on top, and we’ll happily cut it into as many slices as there are girls, then munch on a slice, drink some tea or water while happily talking non-stop on the issues at hand. It is of course understood that mothers talk mostly of their children; age does not matter. We share, compare and try to give advice. Younger women would talk about men and boys. Shopping, contrary to popular misconceptions, is not a prevalent topic among females; neither is fashion. That does not mean that we do not follow the modern trends. It is just that young girls would always try to be trendy yet work out their own style, while family women would see shopping as one of the chores to be done routinely as needed.

We also talk shop a lot, discussing problems, exchanging news and floating around ideas. I have observed the same picture in many countries. Clearly right after a full day at an office or lab, often on a Friday, several women of various ages would get together in a café or restaurant for a drink prior to going home. They would sit around the table sipping their drinks, unwinding, discussing whatever it is they wish to air, or simply letting out steam at times. Half an hour at most, and then they up and rush away intent on their errands and destinations. Men may go to a pub and/or some game after they had their evening meal. So all of us need some relaxation and all of us talk shop even after hours, we just do it differently.



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