Episode 6: Watching your weight

(Shonali initially refused to write a response to this saying it was extremely distasteful and not worth replying to. I’m glad she did! Aint she good?)

He says:

Ever heard of a girl who eats her heart out and your whole wallet along with it?
In all probability, very unlikely.

Even if she did, it’s incredibly simple to get her to stop.

Pssst: Move romantically closer to her ears and whisper the magic word: Calories!

Then, just sit back and watch: She’s sure to jump out of her chair, pull her stomach in and rush to the restroom. No prizes for guessing, she’s in there checking her waist praying: Mirror, mirror on the wall, can I ever reduce at all?

I don’t get it. Why are women paranoid about putting on weight?

Yes, agreed, there are guys too — the types who believe that the gym is the temple that makes you God.

But that’s just a minority really. Men don’t seem to mind having a little paunch. Some of them, in fact, flaunt their pot-bellies like proud pregnant mothers before the delivery.

The health-conscious decide to burn the beer and the beef by working out the very next day. And the rest know that a few smart lines is all it takes to get the woman find you attractive because women go for brains remember? Or at least they claim so.

Besides, when men are fat, women do seem intelligent enough to realise that there is “more of you to love.”

But to be honest, it’s great that women are figure-conscious.

Men do think that women who watch their weight are super smart. Because, they appreciate and totally dig beauty and attractive women. Besides, what will we men do every time we need a date, but for that adorable babe in the hot dress all dolled up and looking like a billion bucks? Ha ha!

She says:

They say that if Barbie had been a real woman, the only way she would have been able to move with that body structure would have been by crawling.

She must have been thought up by a man.

And she proudly goes on to give women complexes about their appearance even today. But what a lot of men don’t realise is that air brushed magazine models, anorexic ramp walkers and perfectly proportioned movie stars might be the stuff dreams are made up of, but are very likely complete nightmares to date, or live with.

After all, how sweet can you disposition be if you’ve live on a diet of celery, obsess about your skin and hair all day, and spend every waking hour pulverising your body into shape.

No lazy weekends on the beach, no heading out for icecream and hot chocolate after dinner, no sitting up late with cappuccinos and friends. Because, getting sunburnt, putting on a hundred grams or gaining the faintest shadow under your eyes could just be a fate worse than death.

But then, any man who thinks that he’s achieved his very purpose for living when he gains a ‘babe in a hot dress’ hanging off his arm probably isn’t really looking for a girl friend. He’s looking for a trophy.

And as any intelligent woman knows, we’re not trophies. And we’re not decoration.

A beautiful woman lights up a room, not because of her measurements, or an itsy bitsy dress, or because she’s steadfastly refused herself chocolate cake for the past ten years. She’s beautiful because she’s funny, intelligent and glows with self-confidence.

Intelligent woman don’t count calories. And intelligent men don’t expect them to. Beauty, after all, is not only subjective. It’s also just skin deep.

Episode 5: Is shopping rocket science?

(For a change, we let the lady fire the first salvo, instead of just responding every time, we decided we would take turns every week in going first because the person answering always seems to have an unfair advantage of just replying.
Also, people may be reminded that this is just a humour column. Not to be taken seriously or emotionally. But then, many women do not have a sense of humour… ha ha! And the intention has never been to be politically correct, it is purely to be irreverent and get a good fight out of manipulating existing stereotypes! So it basically means, I do (sometimes) pay for my food, and even open doors and so does Shonali!)

She says:

I suppose they think it’s macho. As they stand around, idly tossing back beers and burping, somebody or the other will bring up the topic of ‘women and shopping.’ And then, it’s like the floodgates have opened. One guy will make smart cracks about his wife’s shoe collection, the other will discuss a girlfriend who stocks up on soaps. Someone knows a girl who has… gasp… six pairs of jeans. And someone else has it on good authority that no woman is satisfied unless she owns at least 12 different types of daily wear hair products – each of which need about an hour of intensive pre-purchase research.

What the guys don’t reveal, or perhaps even realise, is the fact that men shop too. And, in many ways, are far more obsessive, extravagant and indecisive shoppers than their female counterparts.

For every woman with a shoe addiction, there’s a guy with a, well, shoe addiction. (At least women need to match their shoes with outfits, colours and occasions: sneakers for a barbecue, low heels for the day, stilettos for dining out. But why in the world do men need twelve pairs? Brown from breakfast, black for lunch, brown for dinner, black for brunch?) For every woman with a soap, or scarf, or ear ring collection, there’s a man, who collects CDs, or belts, or, um, ear rings. Or maybe, if he’s really ‘macho’, whiskeys, cigars or electronic non-essentials. For every woman who buys 12 hair products there’s a guy who buys an equal number of aftershaves. And trendy ‘metrosexual’ hair gels.

And if you think women take a long time to decide on which outfit to buy, ask a male friend to take you shopping for a cell phone, or laptop. Besides the fact that you’ll have to listen to lengthy lectures on tough concepts like ‘battery life’ and ‘blue tooth technology’ (because, of course, we women operate computers with will power and lipstick alone), you’ll be lucky if you get home before your hair turns grey and you’re forced to borrow some of his spiffy new hair colour.

He says:

A man with 12 pairs of shoes must be gay. Or an actor/VJ/model/someone in showbiz/someone who wants to get there.

Well, most women have a wrong notion of men probably because they hang out with only those kind of men who remind them of themselves. Most men I know just have formal shoes and/or casual shoes and then, they have chappals – one for the bathroom and one for the road. Because, they do not feel the need to colour co-ordinate shoes with their clothes like women do.

As women often allege, men are colour blind indeed. Because, men believe it is adequate to know that coffee, cocoa, chocolate, beige, khakhi, auburn, hazelnut are all just brown. It helps decision-making easy. You walk to the rack and it doesn’t take rocket science or research to figure out what’s best. You don’t need to know what colour it is when you can simply point it to the salesman and say: “I want that one.”

Men have very basic needs. We are simple people. And if they read up on gizmos, it’s because these are expensive investments. Research not only makes for a wise investment, it also helps you make a wise choice much ahead of your actual purchase and thus, helps you save valuable shopping time that can be used for wiser purposes.

Like, checking out an interesting, definitive book or magazine or movie on women, or just the real thing: people-watching in a mall. Who says men don’t like women for the time they take at the store? Men do like checking out anything remotely interesting at the malls. Let them make their choice while you make yours.

(Men could do with a mental note: There’s a price to pay for anything you pick up at the mall and it’s directly proportional to her purchase.)

Episode 4: The first move!

He says:
It starts from the very beginning. From the day she says: “Yeah, he’s cute. But let him make the effort.”
Ever heard of a girl using a pick-up line on a guy? No, because she’s the quintessential “good girl.”
Finally, when the guy makes the effort, whether she likes him or not, she squeals: “Look, look, he’s hitting on me.”
If she likes him, even the corniest of lines seem mushy to her. If not, God help the guy, she finds even the best lines corny. Sidey, even.
Next thing you know, she expects you to be romantic. And she wants originality at that — THE prime reason why most guys end up writing yucky, sucky poems. They try to rhyme, all the time, that it’s a crime, and far from sublime. Well, you get the picture.
I fail to understand: Why should a girl be, or expect to be, wooed?
Can’t she just walk up and kiss the guy she likes? She wouldn’t even have to apologise if he’s taken. No guy is ever going to complain. He would probably reward the investment with double the effort.
Look at this objectively. No guy expects a pick-up line. He will happily buy the kiss-at-first-sight proposal. If he doesn’t like you, he’ll still kiss you goodbye. It’s that cordial. Now can you expect a girl to do the same?
No. Because, they are brats. Women have been spoilt with attention. So, they expect men to take the effort all the time. They are lazy. They are creatively challenged, for, they cannot come up with pick-up lines themselves. And, they definitely do not have the guts to use them.
That’s why men are so cool. They put in the effort, what it takes to make it work. Right from the start.

She says:
There was a young man called Cupid,
Who constantly felt rather stupid,
His job was to lob,
Arrows into a slob,
And try make his reasoning lucid.
Because that’s what happens to a man in love. He not only starts indulging in uncontrollable bursts of verse that reads along the lines of `the grass is green and you are my queen,’ but also begins to swagger about with an `I’m the man in charge’ attitude.
What men don’t realise is that women don’t fall for them because of the `effort’ they take to `make it work’. Women fall for them in spite of it.
Because here’s the big secret, guys. You aren’t in control. Not ever.
Remember the first time you saw her across that crowded room, and cunningly positioned yourself so you could make eye contact? Well, she saw you first. And she probably positioned her face in such a way that she could lock gazes with you — without it looking like she was actually making an effort. Which also explains why you can’t ever catch the eye of a woman who’s not interested in you.
When you went to chat her up, she kept the conversation going… till it reached a `let’s meet for dinner’ stage.
She probably chose the restaurant. She wore that irresistible perfume. She smiled mysteriously, forcing you to ask her out again.
You’re just the big fish she was out to hook. Your only job was to prove you’re entertaining enough to keep working on.
And you’re complaining about having to think up a lousy line like “your eyes are blue, true and make me stew”! Get with the programme. As any intelligent woman will tell you, the chase is far more fun than the kill.
And you’re just walking prey.

Episode 3: Who should pay?

He says:
No doubt about it at all. Women must pay.
Men have been paying for years now. Time for payback.
Yes, man was an ape once upon a time. Just like how he used to pay once upon a time. But here’s a word, ladies: It’s called evolution.
The modern man no longer wants to pay.
He might buy you a drink when he’s high or buy you coffee to make you feel special — once in a while. Which is why and how it becomes `special’. If he did it everyday, he would be such a bore and of course, broke, unless he’s got a sugar daddy.
Also, it has something to do with empowerment.
Come on, shell out the money. Show us who’s the boss. As Rod Tidwell says in “Jerry Maguire”: “Show me the money!”
Bad enough you make the guy drive you around most of the time. And, the number of times we drop you home. Do you, like, even know about the escalating cost of fuel and maintenance?
You give the guy a heartache every other week, are you aware how much a night out with the boys costs?
And, those endless mushy phone calls in the middle of the night. Who do you think pays? It’s a man or his father. Or the girl or her father (if she calls). Which means that the probability of a man paying the phone bill is three out of four.
So the next time you go out, be a lady. Pay for the guy. He always entertains you with his romantic services.
Also, he’s probably broke and borrowing money just to make you feel good.
Coffee: 50 bucks.
A full-course meal: 150 bucks.
The pleasure and satisfaction of taking a man out: Priceless.

She says:
And I always thought they enjoyed paying. Honestly. I’ve gone out with guys who are completely rabid about picking up the cheque.
Through dessert, they make eyes at the waiter. Drum their fingers on the table. Flex their credit card holding fingers. And when the bill arrives, they jump up in one beautiful swoop and grab it.
So, what’s a girl to do? I’d pay, but I really don’t want to break a nail. After all, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. And maybe, someday, I’ll pay him back by baking him a basket of cookies. (Snort. Yeah right! Only if I can hire someone to make them for me.)
Besides, when a guy asks you out for dinner, he has to pay for the pleasure of your company in some manner. You’re doing your job by looking nice, and listening to his boring office-and-sports stories with an appropriately wide-mascara-eyed admiring expression.
Oh, all right. I admit it. Gender roles have changed. And men don’t have to pay anymore, just like I don’t have to bake cookies anymore. (Give me a moment to recover from a bout of hearty laughter caused by the image of myself in a kitchen.)
But it’s still a charming gesture. It’s not about the money. Two cappuccinos cost less than a pedicure. Paying for them is no big deal.
However, when a man pulls out his wallet to pay at a restaurant, it tells you, he’s generous. When he fights through a crowded bar to get you a fruit juice at the disco, it means he’s thoughtful. When he picks up movie tickets, it means he’s considerate.
And that’s why you date the guy who takes you out for dinner, and just become backslapping buddies with the chap that makes you pay for his pizza.

Episode 2: What’s hawt?

He says:
A question to all women out there.
Would you like to be seen kissing someone toad ugly?
Yes? My number is… .
Kidding!
But the point is that just like men are hesitant to date… well… aesthetically challenged women, women too stay away from the uglies.
So why just blame the men for being Shallow Hals?
Who would you date if you had to choose between Abhishek Bachchan and Yoda?
Abhishek Bachchan obviously, because he’s a great guy irrespective of how good he looks.
So if you can find men who are good-looking, smart and nice at heart, isn’t it inaccurate to assume that all good-looking women are dumb?
Most good-looking women are smart because they know how to get their men.
But first, what kind of women do men find “hawt”? What do men consider “hawt”?
The fair? They like Naomi Campbell, Jada Pinkett Smith, Halle Berry.
The well toned? They love Shakeela and Tamil heroines of the 1990s.
The beautiful? Why do they like Mallika Sherawat then? (wink wink)
The tall? Rani Mukherjee is a five-footer.
The skimpily clad? Then, why do they love Nandita Das?
The point is: to be “hawt,” a woman need not necessarily have any of the qualities listed above.
Any intelligent woman today knows that being smart or well dressed is paramount simply because she applies the same rules to a guy.
Smartness is defined by the way a person carries himself.
If it means men need to shave, it means women also need to er… file their nails.
If it means men need to smell good, it means women need to smell better.
If it means men need to look “hawt,” it means women too must.
If it means men date smart women, it just means smart women are dating smart men.

She says:
And, in their spare time, men like reading books on intelligent female space scientists. Oh, and watching action movies that comprise women mathematicians breaking impossible codes.
Give us a break.
Everyone knows that men, (ok, most men) have a weakness for beautiful women. And, given half a chance, would date only stunners. Even they admit that. “Um. Yeah. Of course. Anyone who says they’re more interested in what and how a woman thinks is probably just trying that line out for a date. And he’s probably angling for a pretty woman, anyway,” says one of the many men I poll for this column. (Sorry. Betrayed by your own gender.) (Evil laugh)
Because, while women go for men with brains, and a sense of humour, men go for women who are… um… hawt.
And what is hawt? Usually, a lot of lipstick, a gym-toned body (and please, let’s leave Shakeela out of this!) and a tendency to lisp. Especially during, I-love-you-cho-muchee conversations in the middle of the night. (Shudder.)
I’m not saying all beautiful women are dumb. But, a woman who thinks a new shade of hair colour can bring world peace is far more likely to find a date than a man who has more hair gel than grey matter between his ears.
Because, if you’re a man, you don’t have to spend hours at the gym working on those pecs in the hope of impressing the `gals.’ You far more likely to have hoards of them putting your number on speed dial if you can make them laugh, and treat them with respect.
What else explains the beautiful-woman-dating-very-ordinary-looking-guy syndrome that you see at every shopping mall, and every party?
And would we kiss a toad? Of course. Ever wondered what the significance of the story of the Frog Prince is? Well, when the princess kissed the frog, it turned into a prince in her eyes. And that’s because he was a prince deep inside, and how he looked just didn’t matter.
(This is a fortnightly column on the battle of the sexes.)

Episode 1: Who should open the door?

(This is the beginning of a new column on the battle of the sexes. You can read it every alternate Thursday in the Chennai Edition of Metro Plus in the Gender page. I write He Says and my collegauge Shonali Muthalaly writes She Says)

He says:
Why would I open the door for a girl?
Maybe I would if one of the following were true:
a. Women genetically lack specialised skills for accomplishing complex tasks like opening the door.
b. She is further to the door than I am, you know, walking behind me like Mary’s little lamb.
c. She thinks that the world is a Matrix and that “There is no door.”
d. If I have the keys (and we are going to my place for some activity I’m really looking forward to, like playing chess).
e. If she’s knocking (and she’s come home for some activity I’m really looking forward to, like yes: Chess!).
f. She’s locked out of her home and needs my help (before we can go in and do some activity I’m really looking forward to… what else, seriously, chess!).
What is the big idea behind chivalry or expecting a man to do things that might seem unnatural to him?
Yes, women probably find it charming because a few good men in their enthusiasm to please their bratty spoilt date do it. Little do these ladies realise that these acts are just that. Acts, that work smooth, when he has moves in his mind.
Besides, face it, Ladies. It’s charming because it’s rare and special.
And gentlemen, beware of opening the door for her all the time. You make it a habit and before you know it, you are just as good as that thing at the door that lets the woman walk over. Yes, the doormat. Soon, you’ll be paying each time. Literally.
Open the door, only when there’s a chance for the dance! If it doesn’t seem like it, you will surely be happier off watching that channel on TV she does not approve of.

She says:
Yeah. Chess. (Excuse me while I gag.)
Now there’s a complex task. The point is, if it doesn’t come naturally, don’t force it. No woman is going to fall into a dead faint if you don’t open a door for her. (In fact, in these trying times, we’ll probably faint with surprise if you do.)
Because, believe it or not, we can open our own doors. And carry our own luggage. And pulling out a chair at a restaurant doesn’t need the brains of a space scientist, or the brawn of Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Honestly, if it did, would you be able to do it?)
But the fact is, good old-fashioned chivalry is still charming. Though of course, there are many points of view on that too. I, for instance, took a quick poll and found that one friend who sniggered evilly and called chivalry “a stupid, insulting” idea, while another one got mooney eyed and gasped, ” but, it’s so sweet.” But perhaps the most honest reply came from a girl who reportedly makes her male friends jump through hoops. “Well, the man’s there, isn’t he? So, just put him to use!”
Pssst: Looking coy and helpless does accomplish wonders. Because the bottom line is: Yeah, sure… There’s nothing we can’t do. But if somebody wants to do all the grunt work, who are we to stop him? Besides, it’s nice getting a chair every time you walk into a crowded room. And it’s nice to not have to carry your own luggage. And yes, it’s nice being treated like royalty.
And if it seems unnatural to ‘him,’ he just doesn’t have to do it. But maybe he should get used to watching a lot of TV in the evenings.