I was tossing up between drowning my sorrows in hot chocolate, reading Pride and Prejudice for the twentieth time, or watching Pride and Prejudice for the fiftieth time.
When all of a sudden I had the perfect idea. GIRLS NIGHT!
I headed over to my best friend's house, a copy of Sweet Home Alabama in hand.
Together we gathered our supplies (popcorn, Allen's Lollies, chocolate for the emotional scenes and two boxes of Kleenex to be safe) before heading into her living room with the widescreen TV, ready to enjoy the movie...
...when we were thwarted. By Them.
Them. With a capital 'T'. Otherwise known as the opposite sex, the makers of inappropriate jokes, and the species that will test the female patience like none other.
My best friend's brothers to be exact. All four of them. Watching a bunch of guys in tight shirts and short shorts kick around a piece of sewn leather. Otherwise known as rugby.
"No!" I'd hissed, turning to my friend who was staring at her brothers as if seeing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. "This is not happening! Tonight was meant to be our Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas swoon fest!"
My friend grimaced, lifting her shoulders slightly to indicate her helplessness. "But what do we do?"
And so began WWIII.
We started off with a few casual hints:
"Hey, guys, you know rugby looks really good on the other television."
"Wouldn't it be super nice if you guys had a room all to yourselves?"
"Why don't you all head out tonight?"
Which then progressed into bribery:
"The chocolate for the TV, fellas."
Which then turned into threats:
"I will scream. Loudly."
"Say bye bye to the TV remote, gentlemen!"
But nothing worked.
"What's so great about this movie, anyway?" Brother #1 asked, eyes never leaving the screen.
"It's so romantic," my friend gushed. "And that scene at Tiffany's...!"
"Bor-ing," yelled Brother #2.
"Yuck," agreed Brother #3.
"Yeah," backed up Brother #4.
Apparently all it took was for us to rig the DVD system, and to begin the movie for them to flee the room. But it was only one instance where I came to understand that guys and girls were as different as night and day.
As a book blogger, reader and amateur creative writer, I've been asked over the years by both guys and girls for book recommendations.
Girls are always fun. And prepared. They'll give you a long list of the books they've read, what kind of romance story they like, what king of guys they'd like to read about and even give you specific genres from which to look into.
Guys...not so much!
I remember my first 'guy recommendation' (guymendation (?)).
It was actually one of my best friend's brothers - Brother #1. The family were over at my place, and he was casually eyeing my bookshelves. All of a sudden he asks:
"Hey. Have any good books?"
I opened my mouth to say something like, "All my books are good books!" but I swallowed my bookworm pride and opted instead to say:
"Sure. I'll grab one for you."
And so started the terrifying process of picking a book for a guy.
He didn't like books with 'girly' romance. (Whatever that means.)
He didn't like books that had 'girly' endings. (Again - a little confused.)
He didn't like books that had 'girly' characters. (Okay. By then I was just offended.)
So what did he like?! I couldn't help but feel horrible. Recommendations were supposed to be easy, weren't they? Why was this so hard?
And then it hit me.
And this is the message I want to leave with both sides of the war - girls and guys. That maybe it isn't that guys are too fussy, or girls are too fussy, or that we have such different tastes from one another.
Maybe it's just that we THINK we're so different, and that there is a criteria for 'guy' stories, and 'girl' stories.
So...I made a decision.
"Take this one," I told him, shoving The Prophecy of the Gems into his hands.
He stared at it.
He held it out before him.
He stared at me.
And said. "Ah...what?!"
"Take it," I repeated calmly. "And read it."
"But it's girly-"
"Take it, read it, and if you hate it, I'll swear that I'll never force you to read another book in your whole life."
NB: Boys love dares.
So he took it.
For those who've never heard of the book, here's a blurb:
'In a magical realm, three teenage girls-Jade, Opal, and Amber-are chosen to fulfil an ancient prophecy. Although they meet as strangers, they must learn to trust one another with their lives as they embark on an epic journey, armed only with magical stones. On the day of their fourteenth birthdays, they set out on a quest that will require them to leave their homes and families to face fierce enemies in an effort to save an enchanted land called Fairytale, where magic reigns and evil is unknown.
At the same time, in a parallel world, a young girl named Joa fights for her life in a hospital bed in Paris. While she is dreaming, she is transported to a magical realm where three young heroines fight a spectacular battle. Their success or failure will determine the fate of Fairytale…and Joa's survival.'
It had 'girly' romance.
It had a 'girly' ending'.
It had 'girly' characters.
And you know what?
He loved it.
I still remember listening to him go on and on about it the next time we saw eachother. He was analysing the characters, commenting on how the plot could have been a little different at this or that point. And I remember thinking that it felt good. It feltright that such a great book was being appreciated by both genders, despite it's 'girly' cover and the misconceptions that accompanied it.
"So," I'd said to him, smirking. "Ever gonna judge a book by its cover again?"
NB: Boys never admit when they are wrong.
It got me thinking. And I'll admit, after that I made an effort to seek out 'boy' books - books that I heard girls at school say were too 'guy' for them to read, books with weaponry, bloody battles and pages and pages on the political runnings of mysterious kingdoms. I read them, and enjoyed a great many of them.
Which led me to the conclusion that I have today: that we need to start ridding society of negative stereotypes associated with stories - both in books and movies. Girls should be seen as feminine even if they enjoy watching a good action-packed horror movie. Guys should be seen as masculine even if they admit to like watching The Notebook from time to time.
Because everyone deserves the chance to enjoy a good story no matter their gender.
So think on it. And let me know your thoughts below :)