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:~: Monday, June 12, 2006 :~:

Guy Talk

In case you missed it - and how could you? - baseball season's winding down. Well, for everyone but the PROs it's winding down. June means semester finals and, yes, for those of us worshiping the god of baseball, the College World Series. Being married to just about the biggest baseball nut on the planet, and considering the fact our alma mater - Oregon State University - was playing in the Super Regionals this weekend, I'm sure you can figure out what I was doing Saturday and Sunday.

Yep, you guessed it, sunning myself at the diamond.

I love baseball. It's practically a religion around here, indoctrinated to me by the DH when he swept me off my feet a gazillion years ago. Sure, PRO baseball's fun to watch. There's nothing like sitting in the stands at Safeco Field, drinking a beer, listening to the roar of the crowd, but there's something special about college ball, something you can't bottle at the PRO level. I think because it's not about the money. It means something special to the players and the fans that you'll never find in a world where players make millions of dollars regardless of whether they win or lose.

This year, it meant a lot to my DH, too.

The star pitcher for the OSU Beavers used to play for my DH when he coached high school ball a few years ago. In a way, my DH played a part in developing this kid who was recently drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks. That's a pretty cool thing to be able to say.

So claim to fame aside, our weekend was spent in Corvallis at the ball field. And it was great - I love Corvallis. It's the most charming college town. And I miss it. Especially great because the Beavers swept Stanford in two games and are now headed to Omaha, Nebraska for the College World Series. (And DH is still trying to figure out a way to go to Nebraska but that's the topic for another post.) I can't tell a fast ball from a curve ball when I'm sitting in the stands, and I never know what play the coach should call for next, but it doesn't dimish my joy at going to the games. I love watching the ball dart across the field, the crack of the bat, the scream from the crowd as the ball sails through the air, the smell of hot dogs and fresh roasted peanuts, the zip as the shortstop shoots the ball to the first baseman like a bullet from a gun. Mesmerizing. I once had a whole plot for a book zip into my head while sitting at an OSU game. Baseball, for me, does wonderous things for the muse. And yesterday was no exception.

We had great seats for Sunday's game. Premier seats 1/3 way down the first base line. And seated behind us? An unexpected treat. A group of 30-something guys out for an evening of fun. Now, get your mind out of the gutter. I was with my own group of 30-something guys. But considering I was with them, they were talking sports and nothing but sports. You know, pump up the image, show me what they all know about the game. But the guys behing me? No women with them. And since they were RIGHT BEHIND ME I could hear everything they said. I didn't eavesdrop - exactly. But I couldn't just ignore them. Especially when I realized it was great research.

Men, I realized as I sat there through three hours of baseball, are not all that different from women. Actually, they're worse. Those guys behind me gossiped about every person they knew. Every woman, every guy. It didn't matter that I didn't have a clue who they were talking about, I was simply riveted listening. Maybe because I've never heard my DH gossip like that. Maybe because I've never had the chance to just be a fly on the wall and listen. Of course, these guys did it in a slightly different way than we women do - they talked about who a mutual guy friend was currently dating, what a controlling chick she is and how they told said guy friend to cut her loose - then they chatted about the great play at first for a few minutes - then skipped back to the guy friend's ex and who she's seeing now. They threw in sports comment here and there just like all guys do, they cheered when the team made a good play, but for the most part, they were just chatting away about stuff we girls sometimes think guys could care less about. One guy - and I could tell from the sound of his voice - got all gushy when he talked about his fiance and their upcoming wedding this summer. That was sweet. One guy sounded a bit beat up when he mentioned he and his girlfriend had just broken up. I almost turned around and patted his hand. They didn't have a problem talking about babies or weddings or who was seen with whom at what party. For me, listening, it was surreal.

I've taken workshops on "guy speak". How guys talk and what they talk about. One author - and I can't remember who it was - said it was ridiculous to think men like to talk. I think that's totally untrue. My DH is a talker. In his job he spends all day shooting the breeze with people. He likes to talk to me about lots and lots of things. I'm sure he does with his friends, too. And - at least with me - he's not afraid to talk about his feelings. When I mentioned this in a roundtable discussion at a workshop, I was told "that's just one guy", but I don't think it is. The guys who sat behind me last night were a random sampling. Eight early-thirty guys - some married, some single - just chatting about any and everything. If they had problems talking, I didn't hear it. They might not talk like women all the time, but that doesn't mean they don't talk at all.

So what do you think about guy talk? How do you write your men? Talkative or clammy? What's your guy like and do you use him as your guide in guy talk areas of writing?


Blogger Linda Winfree said...

I always laugh when I hear some writer talk about how men don't like to talk, yadda yadda yadda. Had a crit one time where someone told me men didn't gossip.

Puh-leeze. My DH and his friends gossip more than my friends and I do!

Great post. I try to write my characters as individuals -- would that particular guy talk about this? Or would he hold it in? Would he confide in his friends? Or not? I think it goes a long way towards realism and keeps the characters from becoming stereotypical.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

OMG, my DH and his firemen buddies are WAY worse than women! That's all they do at the firehouse, over dinner, at conventions -- bullshit and gossip.

Then again, DH goes out for golf with his buddies and us wives ask "What did you guys talk about?" They say work, the kids, etc, but swear they don't get into anything deep even if they're troubled about something -- they skim the surface.

Of course, we can't believe they can hang out for 4-6 hours and not discuss anything deeper than a superficial level.

In fact it has become a running joke. They get to the ninth green, look at each other and say, "How're you feeling?" The other says, "Good. I'm happy to be out here." or "Pissed. I'm playing lousy." Then they all nod. "Great, now I can tell my wife we got emotional." And go back to their game.

So, I'd have to say that men are a lot like women in that what they say and when they say it depends on the company, the situation and the atmosphere.

As Lin said, they are individuals and I try to write them that way.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

Puhlease! My DH and the guys he works with gossip more than my friends and I! And he spends more time on the phone with anyone who will talk than I do. I talk - well really listen- for long periods to family members, but I don't talk for hours with friends. But my dh can talk to ANYONE for hours.

I think every man is as individual as every woman. Some talk more, some talk less. Some are more emotional and some are less. Depends on your character as to how he acts.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa Pulliam said...

You're a Beaver? Um, Eli, I don't know if we can room together at nationals. I'm a duck. :-P How about this - we're united writers all year, except for Civil War. Then we're enemies, lol. Even though you're a Beav, I can still still find space in my caring, duck heart to luv ya. :-) You poor misguided woman. Teehee. Oh, I'm gonna get it...

12:32 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

ROFL, Joan. That's too funny about the golf.

Lin, glad to see other guys gossip too. My DH is careful when I'm around, but I don't doubt he does it. :)

And Lisa. Ay ya ya. I see trouble brewing. I'm a pretty serious beaver fan. In this case, however, I think we're safe. Since UO doesn't have a baseball team, no harm no foul. Once football season hits though, we may not be on speaking terms. :)

2:25 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Paty, I've never heard you gossip! I think you're like the opposite of a woman. Of course, that would be a man, and since we all agree men gossip, I'm not sure what to call you!

(Perfect, that would be it. ;) )

2:27 PM  

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