(with apologies to all the Venutians in my life)
By Ken Laue
From 1963-1966, My Favorite Martian was a popular sitcom. As a teenager I watched as Los Angeles Sun reporter Tim O’Hara (Bill Bixby) took under his wing a Martian anthropologist (Ray Walston) who had crashed his spacecraft near Los Angeles. To prevent a panic or publicity, O’Hara kept the alien’s identity a secret by introducing him around as his Uncle Martin.
Uncle Martin possessed rare talents such as the ability to make himself invisible and the ability to telepathically read and influence the minds of those around him. One subplot revolved around an awkward romance between Uncle Martin and O’Hara’s scatterbrained landlady, Lorelei Brown.
In the comedy of my life, however, my favorite Martian is none other than li’l ole me.
Not that I have Uncle Martin’s powers, although at times I feel invisible around all my female family members. But, cut me some slack: it was all females – wife, daughters, granddaughters – until just recently when (thank God!) baby Elliot Kenneth was born.
While I can’t read (much less influence) the female minds around me, the ladies in my life expect me to be a mind reader. They expect me to know that when they say no they really mean yes – and likewise, of course, when yes really means no.
Now, I have gotten real sharp in one area, though. When the women-folk ask me where we should go out to eat after Sunday service, I just say, “I’m gonna go out to my truck and sit a spell. I need to get off my feet.” Since my foot injury of a several months back is taking its time to heal, the silver lining is that I have a convenient excuse to step out of the decision. “So when you ladies decide, just text me or come out to the truck and let me know.”
Since it’s nearly a 100% given that my choice will be disagreed with and over-ridden by the female consensus, this has proven a winning strategy.
I read a great book first published in 1992 by a counselor, John Gray, and still quite valid today. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is a good read if you want to better understand how those people in your life of the opposite sex think, and how they’re wired. Men and women do process daily life and interactions very differently.
I wonder if the ditzy landlady character, Lorelei, in My Favorite Martian was a spoof from the male point of view that women seem illogical, emotional, and not-too-rational. Of course, as a card-carrying Martian myself, I vote for this premise.
But I have to admit that women (Venutians) may have a valid point in their complaint that males are too insensitive to others’ feelings or to what’s going on around them. Men are often too narrowly focused to see the big picture, and are not multi-taskers like most women.
While my wife may sum it all up by telling me I’m just a big jerk, and I must concede that I probably am, I perceive myself as merely being extremely logical.
So why can’t I get indignant when the people from Venus don’t recognize good logic?
I had just such a well-deserved Martian display of indignation (temper tantrum) on a road trip between Phoenix and Tucson with my wife and 35-year-old daughter – all over their supposed need to make a bathroom stop, and my valid need to get home in a hurry.
It was the last Sunday night before the Monday that ended a two-week Spring Break from work, and I keenly felt my need to get to bed at 8:30 so I could wake up at 3:15 a.m. to go to my bus driving job.
After surviving one of I-10’s ubiquitous traffic tie-ups not far from the first possible potty-break at the Sacaton rest stop, I wanted to get far away from the traffic slow-down before stopping… so I dutifully asked the wife and daughter if we were good to pass up the rest area, and they agreed.
What I was too Martian-based-insensitive to know was that meant, of course, that we would take the very next exit, a half hour more or less down the road at Picacho.
As we approached the next exit, rather than getting in the right lane as my daughter expected, I got in the left lane to pass a car. Not good.
As we sped by the exit – you know, the one that had the Shell station I should have known about, since I should have known that her bladder was saying stuff to her – we got into quite a tiff.
Now, granted, I should have read her mind that not needing to stop at the first rest stop was not to be interpreted as the carte blanche my Martian mentality had wrongfully assumed, for a no-pit-stop trip.
But it’s only a two-hour trip, for cryin’ out loud, and we all went before we left! Besides, I’m the one with a history of prostate problems, so if I can make it, anyone should be able to, especially those of us who don’t even have prostates.
Now bear in mind I was in a focused dither to get home in a timely fashion and I wasn’t thinking of anything or anyone else. “Focus, Grasshopper” might work in the old Kung Fu TV series, but not in every situation us males encounter.
So to take things up a notch, I took my daughter’s response to my inquiry about stopping in Marana at face value. How was I to know that “No, just go straight home” really meant “I’m dying to go, but you’ve proven yourself too much of a jerk to stop, so I won’t make you.”
When I finally figured out that I really needed to stop at the Cracker Barrel in Marana, I mentally conceded that I blew it by not stopping earlier. And I had been a jerk; not merely making logical assumptions.
But I still have to get home in a timely manner. It’s no good driving a bus early in the morning after not enough sleep. Too many lives in your hands.
So when it turned out that the program was now to order a full-on meal at Cracker Barrel, this Martian really lost his marbles and gave the Venutians a bad tongue-lashing.
Okay, yes: I acknowledge that I was out-of-line, big time.
But I found out something: I am sadly LD (learning disabled) in the Venutian language – a dialect I should have mastered long ago. Even though I’ve had decades of living with a wife, daughters, and granddaughters, and the benefit of John Gray’s book, I should have learned and known better.
Despite my warped perception of merely being logical, the truth is, my favorite Martian – me – can be, and often is, a real jerk. (That was hard to choke out, but nevertheless, true).
And all the Venutians said amen… but you don’t have to be so quick about it!
So my apologies to all the females in my life who have had to deal with me. I’m still trying to make progress in this area. As a 65-year-old curmudgeon (or at least I have tendencies) the good Lord has His hands full helping me, but I am confident He is more than able. So I haven’t given up on myself.
But would you ladies please at least try to understand that, unlike Uncle Martin, I really don’t read minds. In communicating with this particular Martian, you must remember the old formula, “KISS”: Keep it simple, stupid! Or more accurately, Keep it simple for Stupid. I don’t read between the lines.
And always remember, God had a very good reason for making the genders think so differently from each other.
Oh, wait: was I supposed to close this article with what that reason is?
Uh-huh. I’ll get back to you on that.