Lint-Trap 1/11/01: Hormones



I'm still cut off. Phones still down, but I do have electricity so I can keep making entries that are orphaned. Perhaps I'll take a floppy to work tomorrow and download from there (ooh, evil...). It's still raining, and for some reason that makes me think of hormones.

I heard a show on a local talk radio station I listen to occasionally. The hostess is an articulate, witty, and very incisive thinker who really lays it on the line, and unfailingly keeps me awake on the drive back up to my place.

A few weeks ago, she was talking about a new discovery of a hormone that women secrete when they make love or have a baby or nurse. It seems to have the effect of bonding the woman to the person (lover or baby) who triggers the secretion. The tone of the program was the hostess and other women calling in saying things like "Of course! Now I understand why I lived with that schmuck for two years and I didn't even like him! It was my hormones!" The show was really rather funny, at times tongue in cheek. One woman called in and said "If I want to stop smoking, I can get a patch. I want a patch to get over a man, too! Maybe we can call it 'sperm-a-derm'."

While the discussion was funny, it left me feeling rather sad. When I grew up, it was 'common knowledge' that women were at the mercy of their hormones. There were 'certain times of the month' when women became 'emotional' or 'bitchy'. They just couldn't help it. But, sadly, this made it difficult for women to be 'logical', the poor things, and that's why they were no good at science and math and business, since 'logic' is so important there.

In my late thirties, I met, entirely by chance, a woman I had gone to school with, Kindergarten through 9th grade. She was the concertmistress of our orchestra, very musical, and I enjoyed her company. I ran into her at a seminar where we were both being taught to run software projects. Since I had last seen her, she had gone to college (on a scholarship, since her father didn't believe girls needed to go to college) and on to graduate school and a PhD in Computer Science.

I had gone to school with her for ten years, passionate about math and science the while, and I never even realized that she had any interest in math and science! She was afraid to tell, and it never crossed my mind to ask. That's how bad it was.

Luckily, I came of age in the sixties, and dumped a lot of those attitudes along with the other stuff my parents had shoveled into me. Some women of my generation, and many of my kids' generation, showed that they had good minds and could innovate and be productive and even manage. Of course, I knew a few people who had PMS, but they took a pill or something, and it was no more polite to mention it than to remark on the glum looks the men had Monday morning when the Home Team had lost a big game.

So here I am, listening to these women, most of whom had not been born in the 50's, going on about what a relief it was to discover that their stupidity was caused by a hormone. Oh please! Been there, done that, and it doesn't work.

I'm quite sure that men have hormonal patterns that can cause problems in their relationships with women. Can you doubt it? Many men are quick to be aroused, even by people who are not their partner. Not a real good plan for a great relationship. But it's their hormones...

Fox has a stupid 'reality' program that is putting this on the line--can the evil hormones destroy a good 'committed relationship'? Well, it happens all the time, whether or not they capture this on camera or not. I could care less...

See where this is going?

We all have hormones. We did or didn't get a good night's sleep, eat three balanced low-fat meals with plenty of fiber, take our vitamins, spend time at the gym. We did or didn't stay up half the night with the Sims. Personal choices. Think these choices affect your hormones? You betcha. Think these hormones influence our behavior. Surely they tend to, if you aren't aware of what you are doing. Is this hard to understand?

I think the advice we have to give to our poor hormone-battered little vessels of clay is very simple: deal with it!. If I stay up all night playing Sims, skip breakfast, and then at shack up with some chick I met at McDonalds because she was dressed just like Linda in my Sims game, I'm going to be a pretty poor relationship prize (otherwise known as a jerk). In order to attract someone with integrity, I have to have it myself. A big part of integrity is realizing that if I feel crappy, it's my own crap and not my partner's that's making that feeling. I have to own my own stuff. And anybody who wants to be close to me for very long has to own their stuff, too.

Note that I didn't say it was easy. And part of friendship is cutting each other a little slack in such matters. For a while. Within limits.

All this reminds me of a joke that was a favorite of my father's when I was a tot. Two men are talking. One is saying "I'm in charge of all the important stuff in my marriage. I decide who is going to win the World Series, how Congress is doing, and what the prospects are for World Peace. My wife decides all the unimportant stuff--where we live, how we dress, where I work, what we eat. And of course, she decides what is important and what is unimportant."

It's easy for me to say I'll own my own stuff. But when I sit across from my partner and there's a pile of shit in the middle of the table, it's amazing how much it always looks like it's mostly hers. I own my stuff, she owns hers, but there's always a pile left over. Couldn't possibly be mine. I know. Maybe it's my hormones...

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2001 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.