the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Newsflash: Men Don’t Understand Women


My Valentine’s day was great.  Sophia and I went out to dinner and then saw a comedy show.   After many years of experience, I was smart enough to hold my tongue when I saw that this overpriced "Valentine’s Day Romantic Dinner" was fifty dollars a person (and ten dollars for a glass of wine!)  

Ah, the high cost of romance.  

I even let Sophia eat most of the overpriced cheesecake herself.  So, yes, I was a real Prince Charming. 

Our only small bit of conflict was over whether or not we should pay the five dollar valet parking fee or keep on driving around Hollywood.  Let’s just say, we ended up paying the fee.

One of the comics we saw was particularly bad, telling unfunny jokes about venereal disease (a Valentine’s Day favorite!) — so I zoned out and just gazed at Sophia, this beautiful woman across from me. 

"For all the years I know her," I thought, " I still don’t feel I really KNOW her.  Isn’t that weird?  Why is it so difficult to know a woman?  Is it just Sophia or do I understand women at all?  Do women make themselves intentionally mysterious or is that their true character?"

When I sat down to think about this subject today, my first thought was about men themselves.  Men have a simplicity and comaraderie that women frequently lack.  Women can be sweet, but they’re also more complicated — and way more catty and backstabbing than any man can ever be.

Recently, I played Texas Hold-em poker twice — once with a group of guys and once with a group of women.  With the women’s group, I was the only male player.  The guys played poker — period.  At some point, we ordered a pizza from Domino’s, but we hardly talked about anything but poker. 

Things were different with the women.  The women brought pot luck dishes.  One woman brought a catalog showing the future locale of her wedding ceremony.  She kept on repeating, "My fiance… my fiance… my fiance," like I once saw in a Seinfeld episode.  One single woman looked like she was going to bust a vein.  At the other game, not one male ever brought up his wife or girlfriend.   OK, maybe I did — but now I’ve learned better not to.  We were there to play poker — and to get away from the women — not to talk about them.  On the other hand, the women wouldn’t shut up about their boyfriends and husbands.

At the women’s game, the poker was merely a backdrop for more important issues.  Two women got into a nasty fight because one of them took too long deciding if she was going "all in."  They started arguing about some weekend in Lake Tahoe from THREE years ago when they both liked this guy from Israel, but only one got lucky with him. 

This is poker?  I had prepared for this game by watching poker TV shows, hoping to learn how to "tell" when a player was bluffing.  But not one of these shows gave me any advice on how to play with women who were more interested in fighting over some hunky Israeli than what cards they had.

Will men ever understand women? 

One of best thing about the blogosphere is that we can turn to female bloggers for advice and information on the opposite sex.

Some bloggers are already doing a public service.  For instance, Trixie of Bated Breath, just wrote a post titled "Trixie’s Guide to Woman-Speak."   That’s perfect!  Just what we need:

Let’s face it. For men, understanding the inner-workings of the female mind is nearly impossible. At times, we can be incredibly vague, often leaving men searching for the appropriate answer so as not to find their nuts in a vise. On other occasions, we pepper our statements or questions with innuendo, leaving everything open to the males’ interpretation.

What a useful post!  I wish more women would help us clueless men.

Immediately, hundreds of questions come to my mind that I would love answered by some woman.  For instance:

1)  How can you be so neat and put-together, but your purse be such a mess?

2)  Why will you kiss me, but not use my toothbrush?

3)  Do women really talk like they do in "Sex and the City?"

4)  Are you really bullshitting about that PMS thing just to get some extra attention?


  1. M.A.


    A great deal of women are, in fact, crazy. For years, I tried to fight this, and now, I guess I should just give in and accept the ridiculousness and insanity. Well, as much of it as I’m willing to accept.

    Your pal.

    P.S. Valentine’s day with Sophia, eh? Good for you.

  2. Michele

    I got your back, darling. Working on those questions right now.

  3. Trix

    In general, it’s very difficult to KNOW anyone. When someone says they “know me,” I often find myself wondering, “Do they actually understand me, or are they just recognizing patterns in my behavior.” The answer, for the most point, is usually the latter.

    Now, on to your questions…

    1. Honey, if I had the answer to that question, I’d probably also be able to tell you the meaning of life. Chalk it up to being one of the wonders of the universe.

    2. I think the bigger question is, “Why is it that you’ll give me head, but you won’t use my toothbrush.”

    3. Yes and no. To some degree, we discuss the same topics, but for the most part, without the horrible Candace Bushnell dialog.


    Thanks for the bloggy-love,


  4. Megan

    Neil, I’ll be your woman advisor if you’ll be my man interpreter. Deal?

    I spent my Valentine’s Day being pissed at a guy friend. Go figure.

    The older I get, the more I realize that women truly can be catty. Why do we have this inherent need for putting one another down in order to make ourselves feel better? It’s probably the thing I hate the most about my gender, and I especially hate it when I act that way.

    Then again, lately I’ve been feeling like I can’t figure guys out for the life of me. It drives me crazy that the stereotype of guys being basic and uncomplicated permeates all of our thoughts about men. That’s such crap. Men have plenty of issues of their own.

    (Sorry, I’m feeling a little bitter right now, but it has nothing to do with you.)

  5. jamy

    Oh, Neil–you funny man. I think it would be easier for men and women to understand each other if we though about each other as “humans” first. But, we do seem to communicate differently, which leads to many problems.

    Now, on to the questions!

    1) Neat appearance, messy purse
    Well, I usually carry a bookbag or a backpack and both are neat. My purses are small and don’t have much stuff. The answer, though, is that a large bag with no dividers or pockets will get messy if you put a lot of stuff in it.

    2) Kissing=good, toothbrush sharing=bad
    You can spread micro bacteria more effectively by sharing toothbrushes than by kissing. It is flat out less hygienic. However, I have at least one female friend who doesn’t mind sharing toothbrushes.

    3) Sex and the City style talk?
    Not my friends. Though I’ve had conversations inspired by the ones in Sex in the City. Of course, I’m a little more prudish than most of my friends and they tend to not talk about this stuff in front of me.

    4) Is PMS bullshit?
    I don’t suffer from it, except for the occasional cramp. But I think those who do suffer aren’t kidding.

    5) “You… came already?!”
    If you don’t know the answer to this one, I can’t explain it to you. 😉

  6. Bre

    1) Because it’s ok for our purses to be messy, but it’s certainly NOT ok for the kitchen to be a mess or to have laundry strewn all over the bedroom when people visit. It’s one of the few places I get to be messy without someone giving me crap for it.

    2) Because kissing, in my experience, doesn’t involve scraping plaque from the gumline. ew.

    3) The subjects are similar, but the dialogue is much better written

    4) Sometimes.

  7. Rabbit

    1) I’m not neat. I clean for six hours before a man sets foot in my place.

    2) Because I brought my own toothbrush . . . and toothpaste.

    3) I’ll have to see the show and get back to you.

    4) Why do you say those kinds of things to me? Do you think I like falling apart like this at the drop of a hat? Hand me a tissue. Where’s the chocolate?

  8. Kevin

    It’s a nice thought that men will someday understand women, but I’ve given up all hope. I love my wife dearly; but will I ever truly understand her? I somehow doubt it. Regardless of how hard I try.

    Oh, and I doubt I ever would have had a shot at that cheesecake. My wife loves that stuff.

  9. Neil

    Dear Reader — if you notice a sex joke has suddenly disappeared from this post, it might be because Sophia mentioned that “it sounded like the joke of a ten year old.” I really don’t get women at all.

  10. modigli

    Oh Darn, I missed the joke!

  11. Neil

    Modigli – Damn it, I can’t let you see me acting so pussywhipped. I can’t let a woman tell me what to do! Here’s the cut-out joke. I bet you men will find it funny.

    5) Finally, this is a question I’ve had for a long time, and is a perfect example of the strange doublespeak that women use in their communication. Every time I’m with a woman in bed, she always asks me the same question with the same pouty look on her face, “You came already?!” I never understood this. Of course, I’m in the apartment already. You invited me there! Duh!

  12. Jill

    1. Because the purse holds all the just-in-case stuff that allows the rest of me to appear neat and put together.

    2. I have actually used my boyfriend’s toothbrush.

    3. Yes. If you’re talking to the right women.

    4. Unfortunately, no. Hormonal tides are very, very real. Even when my diet is clean and my exercise is consistent, one out of every three cycles will have several days of pure misery.

  13. Tatyana

    5)yeah, I heard that question too (from a male, naturally) and it always puzzled me.

    1) my purse is in immaculate order.

  14. helen

    I am at loss for an answer…. women did the things they did for no specific reason. It just came naturally. IMHO

  15. i ended up here... how?

    i’ll apologize upfront, as i know this is frivolous, but as an ex-bloomingdales buyer from this division, i’m compelled to correct you…

    it’s a HANDBAG, not a purse 🙂

  16. cruisin-mom

    Geez, Neil, I must be a guy…

    My purse is neat

    My husband uses MY toothbrush

    I hate women who sit and talk about how lousy their husbands are

    But I will say, that PMS thing…NO BULLSHIT!

    and #5? well, of course, my husband has to ask me that several times a day.

  17. Eric W.

    Trying to understand someone or a sex to the point of “Aha! I get it all now!” is futile. Everyone is different, so it would be the same for men, albeit we are a bit simpler sex.

    General self-education about the sex though is good, but expecting a definite matter-of-fact answer to things is virtually impossible.

    Also, logic and females cannot coexist simultaneously, so you’re SOL there.

  18. Wendy

    Those are your burning questions? I would have thought you’d ask stuff like “why do women ask which shoes look better and then wear the ones you didn’t select?” or something….

    1) I think it’s about outward neat vs. hidden neat. We want to give the impression we’re totally together, but the purse tells a different story.
    2) I always kept extra (new) toothbrushes around.
    3) Yes. At least at my poker game.
    4) Sometimes.

  19. He's Dead, Jim!

    Good questions, Neil.
    1) I carry the smallest purse possible so as to limit the disarray in there. My BRIEFCASE, on the other hand, is a nightmare. We women take care of everything for everyone, so we need to carry everything someplace!

    2) Why will you guys kiss us, but you’ll freak out if we leave any feminine hygiene products within view at your place?

    3) Women are much more graphic than are men when in groups. I won’t use curse words, so it’s not as raunchy.

    4) Are you kidding me? If only we could eradicate hormonal fluctuation entirely. Worst thing is, you KNOW you are acting moody but there is nothing you can do about it.


  20. Kitten

    I don’t carry a purse. Does that mean I’m not really a woman?

  21. Michele

    I’ve got question five and my versiov of the answers on my blog… I’m not sure if that is good or bad?

  22. Dave2

    I have long since given up trying to understand women. I console myself by choosing to think that the eternal mystery is part of what makes them such fascinating creatures.

    And by “fascinating” I actually mean “frustrating.”

    No… it’s definitely “fascinating.”

    But mostly “frustrating.”

  23. anne arkham

    1.Sorry, my purse is neat and organized.
    2.It’s just gross.
    3.I don’t.
    4.Yes. True PMS is rare.

  24. Leesa

    1. I don’t carry a purse anymore.
    2. Ick on sharing toothbrushes, but I never understood why the guy won’t take my gum.
    3. Yes, I have friends who talk like the girls in Sex and the City.
    4. Nooooo…PMS is not made up 😛

    And some guys can be just as hard to figure out, trust me.

  25. erin

    1) I guess it’s because(and this might just be cause I was in the military for years…)my purse contains everything I need to survive on a deserted island. (including matches, compass, a knife, sunblock, chapstick, bandaids, advil, and a rock climbing caribiner)

    2) Cause I don’t want you using mine…

    3) All the women I’ve known are completely different than any television archetype, especially the ones created by HBO.

    4)Maybe a little, but I’d give up all the attention in the world to never have a backache or cramps ever again…

  26. Nelumbo

    I hope you enjoyed your v-day date 🙂

    1)I’m with Wendy- women are all about appearances. Even in my office, the surface of my desk is usually clean and organized, but I have piles of junk hidden in the file cabinent.
    2)Because you might have used it to clean the grout, brush your dog’s teeth, etc.
    3)Yes, women do talk about sex but not always as a sport. Depends on the woman.
    4)Hormones and mood swings are for real. I do occasionally use it as an excuse when I’m acting irritable.

  27. cherchezlafemme

    Well, I don’t understand men so that makes us about even where gender demystification goes.

    Just one small gripe – I really hate it when men or women (particularly women) describe women as catty or self-abosorbed or vain yada yada. For every woman who fits that mold there is another who breaks it. But of course, the advantage of generalization is that it saves one the trouble of having to actually from informed opinions. Oops, sorry. Was that catty? 😉 What can I say, I am a woman.

  28. bella

    1) My purse is the organized part of my life.

    2) Cause that’s boy cooties!!!

    3) Sometimes. When drinking martinis and cosmos

    4) Hell no. Cramps just suck. You want ’em?

  29. viv

    are we bullshitting? NO. that shit hurts. like a motherfucker. the expletives are completely necessary. when the uterus sheds its lining, it HURTS.

    ok, maybe some women are luckier than i… but if a woman is suddenly very moody, grumpy and doesnt want to get dressed/move because it hurts, she is NOT joking.

    yeah the ones that walk around saying “hehe i’m PMSing” may be full of crap.

    but if you notice a woman being much more emotional than usual and she complains about the cramps (and loves midol), chances are THAT SHIT FUCKING HURTS.

  30. stacy elaine

    yes we are all lunatics and that is what makes us such damn charming motherfuckers.

    we’re like a big ole car crash, you can’t help but slow down and stare at.

    quite beautiful. would you want it any other way?

  31. Bill

    Forgive me for ignoring the post and focusing on the picture but … I immediately thought of a public washroom facility in an old Soviet country following an ill-advised evening of seafood. It strikes me those men are in a state of distress and the accomodations are minimal.

    I’m sorry. That’s what came to mind. As for the subject of the post … I’ve concluded that I’m expected to be an ignoramous who can’t follow the conversation. It seems to be preferred provided I keep my business in my pants.

  32. Fitèna

    I wasn’t sure, but now I am! I told my non-blogger friends about you and the fact that I thought you were a psychologist of something of that sort to come up with posts like this one. Trying to psych us. I knew it. 🙂

    I loved the post (comme d’habitude)!

    I don’t believe you actually KNOW others can know the real you since you get to figure it out yourself little by little and its a non-ending process. I still surprise myself sometimes. And then, knowing other completely would be so boring, don’t you think!?

    Here’s for the questionnaire:
    ) Mine ain’t.
    2) Never know what you’d been doing with yours….
    3) I watched only one episode of this show and no, we don’t – not in normal circumstances – at least I don’t… But then, the show’s name “SEX and the City” right?
    4) That’s the time I wish i were a man.


  33. Edgy Mama

    As you know, I do talk like Sex and the City, at least on my blog.

    I don’t mind using a guy’s toothbrush–particularly if I’ve already been sucking on his tongue.

    Best of luck, Neilochka.

  34. better safe than sorry

    you sure do have alot of female readers.
    1. my purse is incredibly organized, mother of three, it has to be
    2. cuz i have my own, but thanks for offering
    3. i don’t know anyone that talks or behave like those women, they all suffer from low self esteem
    4. i’ve never suffered from it, so i can’t really say
    i love finding interesting mens blogs to read, there aren’t nearly enough of them. i read mostly women’s blogs, while i have quite a variety, there is something different about a man’s writing, his way of looking at things, makes me wonder, are they really that easy to understand?

  35. DawnKelly

    Spend my PMS days with me for just one month Neil.

    If you survive the event you will have no doubt that PMS is real and may you not be a women in your next life.

  36. networkchic

    I don’t believe that men can really know or understand a woman. I think it’s that they can’t take the time to actually pay attention.

  37. Alice

    1. whoever said big bag + lots of stuff + no dividers was right on…
    2. cause ew, i’m not removing plaque and crap when i kiss you
    3. hee, sometimes, but with fewer witty 1-liners
    4. anyone who thinks PMS is bullshit has never had it. if you don’t get pms and pretend do? wow, that’s really lame. maybe get a wheelchair and tool around in that for a while too? you’ll get better pity… ;-P

  38. Heather B.

    1) I’m neither neat, nor put together and my purse is a complete mess. But! my planner, wallet and umbrella all match and that must count for something.

    2) I never thought of it that way and so now I might start.

    3) On occassion. But Michael Patrick King didn’t write everything that comes out of my mouth nor have I had time to think of what I’m about to say over again and have the ample rehearsal time.

    4) There really is PMS. Mother fucker.

  39. Laura

    Hmmm…more importantly…
    1. Would you want a woman with a neat and orderly handbag? All those little ~necessities~ neatly put away=neurotic control freak. A neatly put together woman+ a messy bag in disarray=a woman who can let her hair down once you get to know her. Much more fun.
    2. I don’t get the toothbrush thing either, but seriously, if she won’t put her toothbrush in her mouth, she’s not likely to put THAT in her mouth either (wink, wink)
    3. Yes, and if they don’t, they wish they did.
    4. No, it really does exist. And you should be afraid. Keep a calendar and when you get to the red zone, always come home with chocolate. Even if she screams at you that you are trying to make her fat, she’ll take it like ten minutes later.

    Hope this helps…

  40. ashbloem

    I would kiss you AND use your toothbrush.

  41. Lauren

    1) If you already know the state of the insides of my purse you have crossed a line punishable by death.

    2)I would use your toothbrush, but it’s a good excuse to make sure we stay at mine instead of your smelly bachelor pad.

    3) Clearly you don’t listen while we talk, otherwise you’d know the answer to that.

    4)It hurts so much that not even your foot massages and gifts of jewelery will help ease the pain…well, maybe a little. Is that Tiffany’s?

  42. Serena

    We are a pretty freaking difficult lot. I consider myself a fairly blunt woman, but when confronted with a potential relationship, I morph into this alternate being.

  43. Mine is a Gin

    Glad you had a good Valentine’s evening

    1)My life is a demonstration of chaos theory – I keep cds & books in alphabetical order, crockery stacked in size order in the kitchen, etc, and yet chaos increases everywhere. It’s a constant battle. Similarly with my handbag. It’s just an annoying fact of life

    2) If there was a choice between not cleaning teeth & using the toothbrush of someone I’d been intimate then maybe the toothbrush sharing would happen. Emergency use only. But then, chance would be a fine thing! 😉

    3) I’ve never watched Sex & the City

    4) PMS is real – and lord help anyone when it coincides with not being able to find my keys in my handbag!

  44. ms. sizzle

    i say this to my male friends all the time. seriously, how do any male/female couples make it?!

    as for your questions:
    1) it’s what we hide that is our true selves…
    2) when i kiss you, i don’t scrub off plaque and then rub that on my own gums/teeth. . .ewww
    3) yes
    4) absolutely not joking

  45. Jack

    Why waste time trying to understand them. Just accept that they are devoid of logic and reasoning and that in their universe anything goes.

    Then when they do something completely off the wall and ridiculous there is no real surprise.


  46. Kelly

    Your poker game reminds me of the “Super Bowl Party” I went to where it was all women and basically our only nod to the game was that we had it on in the background, with the sound down low. It was really and excuse to get together and talk about men and sex and eat 7-layer dip.

    1) My purse actually isn’t a mess.

    2) Kissing is fun, toothbrushes are full of bacteria and ickiness.

    3) Yes.

    4) No, the bloating and the mood swings are real and terrifying at times. However, sometimes PMS works as a great excuse when you realize you’ve done something really mean/stupid.

  47. Carly

    My purse is a mess because I use it and you’re less likely to try and seduce me from inside of it,

    I won’t use your toothbrush because it probes deeper than a tongue.

    My girlfriends and I are worse than the SatC girls.

    And I only wish PMS was a joke.

    (I’m not bothering with #5.)

  48. Hope

    You and most guys will probably never understand women. Women are complicated. The real problem is that women think they can’t understand men, but we can. Women are complicated and therefore think men are complicated too. They are not. If women stopped treating men like they were complicated, and realized how simple they are, men would have it a lot easier. Make sense?

    And sometimes I accidentally use my boyfriends toothbrush or vice versa and it grosses me out… but not enough to buy a new toothbrush right away.

  49. Jacynth

    So, I think I can explain the difference easily: You know how men go to the gym and talk about how much weight they can lift or what they did to that a-hole who cut them off? Well, the way women impress each other/brag is to show or talk about what they “have”. They “have” boyfriends, they “have” an amazing recipe for strudel. They “have” the option of sitting there like an idiot pissing everyone off while deciding whether to go “all in” because they “have” the right to be indecisive. Does this help?

  50. Tanya

    What the hell.

    1) How can you be so neat and put-together, but your purse be such a mess?

    Overflow. Duh!

    2) Why will you kiss me, but not use my toothbrush?

    I will use your toothbrush.

    3) Do women really talk like they do in “Sex and the City?”

    It’s been known to happen.

    4) Are you really bullshitting about that PMS thing just to get some extra attention?

    Beats me, I’m on the pill.

  51. Sophia

    Very insightful, perceptive observation, Jacynth. Interesting…

  52. cruisin-mom

    Jack Nicholson played a writer in “As Good As It Gets”.
    When his character is asked: “How do you write women so well?”
    He answers: “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability”.
    That sums it up.

  53. akaky

    1. No one knows. Live with it.

    2. Yechhhhh!

    3. Yes; I work in a female dominated institution and they always tell me ahead of time that the conversation is about go blue or involve reproductive biology; I fear I am a notorious prude.

    4. I dont know; what I do know is that I dont care if they live longer than we we do, we dont have to put up with this stuff. We dont get pregnant, we dont have PMS, the insides of our testicles dont slough off and fall out, although I did have a hydrocele there once, but I dont think that counts, and we can take a leak whenever and wherever we feel like. What can be better than that?

  54. Neil

    Future women in my life:

    I just went to Costco and bought a 12-pack of toothbrushes.

  55. Won't tell

    My wife and I share toothbrushes, but don’t kiss. Should I be concerned?

    Dry mouth in DC

  56. Jack

    More advantages to being male. I don’t need 1,987,290 shoes. I can wear the same outfit twice. I don’t care if I show up at a party and see someone else wearing the same outfit. We grow more distinguished as we age etc….

  57. bettyonthebeach

    Q: How can you be so neat and put-together, but your purse be such a mess?
    THe bigger the purse, the bigger the mess. Plus, women just require more stuff – best to be prepared for any situation.

    2) Why will you kiss me, but not use my toothbrush? I have no problem using a guys toothbrush as long as it isn’t all frayed and looks like he hasn’t bought a new one in close to a year.

    3) Do women really talk like they do in “Sex and the City?” Less like Samantha…more like Charlotte and Carrie.

    4) Are you really bullshitting about that PMS thing just to get some extra attention? No, sadly, it’s pretty real. THe whole period thing really really sucks. We get about 7-10 good days a month.

    Hope this helps!!

  58. modigli

    Neil ~ Ha! Just came back tonight to see if you responded, and lo and behold, you added the joke in the comments! YEah! 🙂


  59. anonymous

    1) How can you be so neat and put-together, but your purse be such a mess?

    2) Why will you kiss me, but not use my toothbrush?

    3) Do women really talk like they do in “Sex and the City?”

    4) Are you really bullshitting about that PMS thing just to get some extra attention?

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