Friday, September 14, 2007

Ponder Post 11: Gushing

And, while I am in irritating women mode - gushing, what's that all about? I've been gushed at a lot in recent weeks. Let me say at once this is not because I am especially gushworthy, it just seems to be the way some women talk to men and, I assume, to each other. I've checked with other men and they all get it pretty frequently, so what follows is emphatically not vanity. Women I vaguely know or don't know at all come up to me and start pouring gush over me, my writing, my family, my flat, my life, my appearance, my wisdom, my wit, my charm, my cat... But, obviously, I don't have a cat. That's the point, all the gushing is either wrong or patently insincere. One woman recently gushed at length about some of the things I'd said in an ST article. Unfortunately, I'd said none of them. The falsity destroys the point of the gush. Regular gushees will know there is no point anyway since hardened gushers gush the same stuff at every man in the room. I am now seriously considering taking a small volume of verse with me everywhere. I shall whip it out and start reading intently the moment the gush starts. There are men gushers, but very, very few. So: why do women gush?


  1. As I'm probably gay I can't say.

    Though women are very diverse, it may be you just attract the wrong kind.

  2. Bryan, you have no idea how timely this post is. I dreamed last night that I was sitting in a remote pub near a windswept beach when a man with very dark eyebrows walked in. I whispered to my husband, "That's Bryan Appleyard, I'm going to talk to him". My attempt at conversation was met with a taciturn, "I come here to avoid people like you". Gulp. When I told my husband about the dream this morning, he pointed out that it could have been a case of mistaken identity and I was, in fact, trying to talk to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

  3. okay, I got to the end of the post now.

    A few more possibilities spring to mind.

    You don't notice all the women who don't gush, they aren't factored into your worldview of women thus causing distortion.

    Your view is also affected by comparing women to men. There isn't so much difference to how men and women are affected by your charm, wit, writing etc. etc., but they react differently. Men are more competitive afterall, more so with each other.

    Women want to mother you. Despite your obvious success and talents, you still exude a persona of insecurity and self-doubt.

    You are, in fact, quite possibly more gay than I am.

  4. You are a strangely complex individual, Ian. And, Sophie, it's only gushers I'm avoiding, not people. Sadly, the Chancellor and I have gone down the same road - grey hair dark eyebrows, though I don't think the contrast in my case is quite so extreme

  5. Do we have to keep going through this? OK, once again:

    When man first evolved from the primates, he spent most of his time hunting out on the savanah, competing for scarce game and selecting naturally. But while he was selecting naturally, the women were back at the cave selecting sexually, and a lot of them were not too fussy about the future gene pool. They were unaccountably attracted to effete, cave-painting types who couldn't throw a spear straight to save their lives, but who evolved the abiltiy to compete highly successfully for scarce females by grunting folk songs, sketching scary beasts and pronouncing on the meaninglessness of life. Cell-phones hadn't evolved yet, so the women and their artsy boy toys were often surprised suddenly by the return of the he-men. Seeking a survival strategy to distract the hunters so the wimpy aesthetes could get out of the cave without both of them being evolved to sudden extinction, the women would throw themselves suggestively at the hunters, fix their eyes on them and say things like "And how is my big, tough mammoth hunter today? Oooh, you are just so strong and exciting. Let's go over to the fire so I can rub your muscles and you can tell me all about it." Having evolved more hunting skills than smarts, the hunters fell for it every time thus making it a highly successful survival strategy for both women and their lovers. Nature selected this skill, which is now widepread through the species and which is why we now have both a surfeit of gushing women and too much modern art.

  6. I can quite understand your desire to avoid gushers. But could they be any more irritating than people who witter? Wittering is, I'm afraid, another peculiarly female affliction.

  7. Apart from 'strangely' and 'complex', you have me nailed, Bryan.

  8. Ah yes, the witter. And, Peter, you are obviously right.

  9. Of course I'm right, Bryan. Evolution isn't just a theory, you know. It's a fact.

  10. Bryan Appleyard is right up there as one of Britain's finest writers and journalists, quite possibly the finest journalist; he is highly perceptive, supremely articulate, relentlessly prolific, a great creator of atmosphere and anticipation, outrageously provocative, infuriatingly dismissive, insufferably arrogant, and at times, through his utterances, a monumental pain in the arse!

    So, if all those gushers put it to him as it is, like that, they'd stand a far better chance of getting somewhere!

  11. i don't see the problem, just greet every compliment or gush with: "If you really meant that, you'd have given me your money."

    i like Kierkegaard's approach: some German philosopher type, greatly impressed by SK's almost impenetrable prose, travelled to Copenhagen to knock on the great Dane's door. SK answers.

    German: I have come to see the great Soren Kierkegaard, genius and author of -

    SK: I am sorry, I do not understand you. I am a beer merchant.

  12. Bryan

    "So: why do women gush?"

    Beats me, but if you want the closest approximation to an answer you should go and ask Ms Robinson of the 'Woman of Experience' blog.

    Sound commonsense and the translation of female foibles to the world offered gratis

  13. Poor Bryan: Next you'll be punching the paparazzi like Jude Law!

    If ever I meet you, I shall have to be careful not to compliment you lest I be accused of ... gushing.

    And what some men do that is very annoying (to me) is a) stand too close b)monologue. Remind your fellow men, a monologue is not a conversation. Women want to be asked questions, too, such as occurs in a conversation.

    Let me close my remarks with a compliment to the supreme British male, Bill Nighy. When I visited him in his dressing room last fall after a performance of "The Vertical Hour," he was the ultimate host to a number of folks there. He was drawing out the shy ones, making sure everyone was in the conversation, etc. And HE was the celebrity! Take your tips from Bill, Bryan.

  14. thanks, Recusant, very good blog that. It's not you is it?

  15. "It's not you is it?"

    No - that tricky old Y chromosome gets in the way - but she speaks a fundament of good, witty sense.

    Although, like all the best people, she has her occasional stumble and seems to be in the middle of one now. But if anyone can deal with it and create an enlightening and humourous post about it - apart from your good self, of course - she can.

  16. Um, I guess this should stop by middle age, but still I have dreams of meeting people whose work I have admired for years. I have often had dreams of meeting Steven Spielberg when a new film of his is about to come out. I even dreamt recently of meeting They Might Be Giants socially, and although stand-offish at first, they started chatting eventually.

    The thing is, if I do see someone like this in public (Apollo astronaut Michael Collins in the Air & Space Museum bookshop is the only real life example coming to mind right now), I freeze up over the conflicting thoughts that it is just too crass to invade anyone's privacy, versus the idea that this would be the only chance I would ever have to pass on a general compliment of the "love your work" kind. Gushing in such circumstances is not likely.

    However, being paid to meet such people may be different. I am curious Bryan. Do young journalists sometimes have to concentrate on not gushing? Did you ever embarrass yourself by a youthful gush-like incident?

    And please pass on my compliments to Steven Spielberg if ever you see him again, and tell him to stop putting down "1941". Lots of people I know quite liked its silly charms.