Tonight, at dinner, I asked my mom if this was a carry-your-plate-around meal or a pass-the-food-around meal. The response was, "Well, it's kinda hard to pass the food..."
"So then it's a carry-your-plate-around meal?"
Now, this situation is not all that odd. But just you wait till I bring history into the discussion. My mother and I have had similar interchanges once every two weeks for about a year. I ask a really simply question with a binary answer, and I get an explanation of the answer back. Mind you, and this is important, the answer is never returned, only the explanation. After I confirm the relation between the explanation and the answer, the interchange is over.
This is such a darn simple attempt at communication that I am almost 100% sure the reason we have problems is due to our inherently different communication styles. I ask for a boolean answer. Yes or no. Right or wrong. 0 OR 1 FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! And what do I get? A text string. A freaking text string I have to parse through and comprehend! Like, where did I say I expected a text string answer? NOWHERE!!!
Being the programming nerd I am, I immediately hypothesized that men speak (and think, mostly, but that is another rant) in something like C. It's low-level, precise and efficient. Women, on the other hand, speak in something like Java. It does more per statement, requires interpreting on every machine by a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and loses performance overhead like there's no tomorrow.
What do I mean by this? Let me examine men first. In the absence of women, men often resort to grunting as a form of communication. A grunt clearly correlates to a 1, and no grunt clearly correlates to a 0. We have a 1 and a 0, we got binary!
But seriously, let me take the three adjectives I used above to prove men speak in C. The three are "low-level, precise and efficient." I can prove the middle with one shot. Remember my question above? It had two clearly defined (even named) answers, and it clearly should have been answered with one of them. Right there, my question was precise in both form and expected answer. It was clearly a runtime error to get a text string return type.
Or how about "low-level" and "efficient"? The two go hand-in-hand. When I say, "I need to go to the store," I mean "I need to go to the store." There really is not a simpler way to define the need. That's a low-level definition. Do I imply anything by the statement? Am I really trying to tell you you look fat? NO! I am merely telling you about my need. And since my entire intention in communicating was phrased in that one easy to understand sentence, it is efficient. There are no wasted words. It takes exactly zero processor overhead to interpret the sentence, for there is no interpretation that needs done. And no overhead is the same thing as efficiency.
And what about women? Well, I have not forgotten them. I explained that women's language "does more per statement, requires interpreting on every machine by a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and loses performance overhead like there's no tomorrow." Notice that I cannot even simplify the characteristics of their language without using lengthy phrases. For men's C, I used three adjectives, one of which was hyphenated. See a pattern yet?
Women's Java does more per statement, so it appears to be a higher powered language. Note that this is directly antagonistic to the low-level quality of men's C. Women have perfected the art of telling volumes of detail in a few sentences. They are so good that they can communicate whole sentences of men's C by body language. Rumor has it that women shuck the spoken word completely when men are not around and simply communicate by subtle eye motions and throat clearings. I can neither confirm nor deny these rumors, as I am never around a group of women who have no men around. Go figure.
Anyway, on to the next characteristic. Women's Java requires interpretation to something like men's C by every listener. This ties in very closely to the above point about high/low level of language. This system, you would think, is doomed to failure because meaning is decided separately by every listener. More on this later. Suffice to say (in this paragraph) that this is the source of unending communication problems between men and women.
Last we have that women's Java loses performance overhead. Men can speak sentences on end, and the listeners are ready for more right afterwards. Why? Because no time is spent on interpreting his words. Women, however, can say something that takes days to interpret. This is commonly referred to as "playing hard to get." She says "no," but she really means "Yes, and bring a dozen daises with you next time. I promise I will be surprised if I get them. Otherwise, I will be despondent because you OBVIOUSLY do not know how to take a 'no'." Clearly, the average male can spend days or even weeks to decode this, for the real answer has absolutely nothing at all to do with the words used to communicate the answer. In the extreme case, men simply grow sluggish in their movements and stop making sense because their mind is taken by trying to understand what she said. A few have even been known to die because the interpretation process goes into an infinite loop and takes away all processing time. This language CLEARLY loses performance overhead.
But wait! There's more!
Can we explain the problems of communicating between the sexes based on the hypothesis of men's C and women's Java? You had better believe we can!
Let's take men's C and its ability to be efficient. Many men are so used to being efficient that excess information or processing is abhorrent to them. For example, every month or so, my mother tells me the details of a situation I neither care about, will ever care about or will remember tomorrow. Usually, I ask why I got all this worthless data. Now, get this, she answers, "I just thought you might want to know." I might want to know? When in the last 20 years of my existence (which is all of it) have I even hinted that I wanted to know information about things irrelevant to me? NEVER! Now we change roles and see what happens:
"I_D (she calls me by my real name, actually), how was school today?"
See, I so love efficient speech that I culled all the worthless, irrelevant data out of my day to minimize the stress I would put my mom through hearing about my day. But is she thankful? Does she kiss my feet? NO! She wants more detail! The very detail I omitted because it doesn't matter to her! Problem is, I omitted it so hard I forgot it. Come on, though. I basically sorted all the junk mail out of her mailbox and she wants to know what I sorted out. This might explain the phenomenon of the ubiquity of junk mail, but that's another rant.
But the wonder of my hypothesis goes way beyond explaining those two stereotypical male/female communication issues. You see, the real core of men's C is low-level, efficient statements. The real core of women's Java is high-level, interpreted (inefficient) statements. They are clearly incompatible with each other.
Take the above sample men's C sentence, "I need to go to the store." Another man hears this as "I need to go to the store." He does this because he presumes the words mean exactly what they literally mean. A woman, however, often hears the sentence and thinks it's really women's Java. Thus, she hears:
"I am offering you a golden opportunity to tell me whatever you need at the store. Whatever you tell me, I will pick up. And I will pick up the right kind, even though you never told me which 'the right kind' is. Furthermore, I will stroll through the aisles looking for great sales and stock up on products we are already stocked up on. Lastly, I will wait happily here beside the door for several minutes with keys in hand and shoes on feet waiting for you to gather your list."
The study of language is amazing, is it not? This one men's C statement, if interpreted through a women's JVM (more on different JVM's later) turns into a monstrous paragraph of detailed intentions that a normal man would not think of ever. Even if he sat down and tried to generate all that detail, his inherent bent on efficiency and irrelevant data culling would preclude him from making all that.
And, I might add, the problem goes in reverse as well. Men try, Lord love them, to understand statements in women's Java as though they are men's C. When she says, "Do I look fat?" she is not looking for a boolean, integer or floating point answer. If she gets one, she generates what might be euphemistically called a "stack overflow". My own personal interpretation of this question is, "I hate you and am trying to find an excuse to do so." When she says, "How in love were you with other women before you met me?" well, I have no clue what the answer is supposed to be. You'd have to ask a woman.
But we men don't admit defeat that easily! No! We try on helplessly for many years trying to build our own JVM. Note that the perfect version of the JVM is inside every woman's brain somewhere. Men do not have that or anything like that. Thus, men build up their own sets of interpretations of women's Java statements into men's C statements. I gave one of mine above about the notorious "fat" question. One problem is, women's Java is context-sensitive: it means different things in different settings or with different tones. Another problem is that men can only build their JVM's one statement at a time in a trial-and-error process. These two problems clearly prohibit men from ever completely understanding women's Java.
Is there adequate support for my hypothesis? I believe I have given enough support to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that, indeed, men speak in C and women speak in Java.