Symbols and Tools

It's Valentine's Day.

Time to remind you that men and women view gifts differently. Speaking generally, men give and like to receive tools, while women give and like to receive symbols. This is why many suburban husbands hate Valentine's Day. It's a day of Symbols. They like to give and receive Tools.

Conversely, women generally love Valentine's Day. It is a day of Symbols. They like to give and receive Symbols. And why is this so? Is it because soft-minded women have been taken in by commercial messages that have made them expect offerings upon a certain day of the year, a day picked out by Hallmark, which any logic-minded person would not value any higher than any other day of the year?

No. It is because the brains of the sexes are different. Women have an easier time accessing right-brain thinking. They are more acquainted with the part of the brain that thinks not in hierarchy, but in metaphor and symbol. Men, with fewer pathways to the right brain, learn to lean on left-brain thinking. They live mostly in the part of the brain devoted to logic and system. All just tendency, and many people are different from these norms, but there you are.

Valentine's Day is a day built on metaphor. The heart, pump of life. Pump of blood. Red: color of blood, color of passion. What symbols do you come up with for Father's Day? A chef's hat? A barbeque? For Father's Day is a Day of Tools, not a day of symbols. (Though all tools are really symbols, but we won't get into that.)

So, today, men, when you are out there feeling a bit put upon for having to come up with some flowers, think about the logical translation of the metaphors you are wielding.

The gifts you are about to purchase prove that you have some extra cash. Extra cash means security. Money is an aphrodisiac for women because it symbolizes security. Security means that they have enough foodstuffs in the back of the cave to live if they get pregnant and are lying around there in the old ninth month and can't go out to get berries. Your outlay of cash means the foodstuffs are there, which means she won't die if she gets pregnant, which signals to her--well, let the good times roll.

Flowers, perfume, chocolates and candy are symbols of fecundity. Flowers are the sexual organs of plants. The smell of flowers stimulates the body to believe that it is surrounded by springtime, that time of stirring, well, reproductive energy. Perfume is a tool to access that energy. It is a distillation of that energy.

In order for a woman to be able to bear children, she has to eat enough to be fertile. Giving a woman candy will make sure she doesn't wither away and die of malnutrition before birthing a son or two. Candy is a tool to promote the process of reproduction. All very logical, when you get down to it.

Conversely, women. If the man of your life gives you a front-loading washing machine today, don't take it wrong. It's a huge and fabulous tool! Men want to give and receive tools. A front-loader is a tool that will make your life seriously better. He wants you to have a better life because he loves you.

OK. So you can't wear a front-loader on a platinum chain. It is not the compact symbol that, say, a diamond bracelet can be. He doesn't realize that a diamond bracelet is a tool. Certainly! It is a communications tool. It tells the world that he has provided many, many foodstuffs in the back of the cave and has therefore provided security. A diamond bracelet communicates not just to the outside world, but to you, as well. Every time you look at it, you are reminded of your security, and this fires your sense of safety, and of passion. Perhaps you don't get all fired up in the grocery store when you happen to look at it, but the subtle uptick is there.

We value diamonds for their "fire." and that little spark within them we interpret to symbolize the fire of passion. The gold they're set in symbolizes purity and rarity. That bracelet is a collection of identifiers, telling the world information about you, and reminding you, yourself, of metaphors you have embedded within it. That's all a diamond bracelet is, really. A communications tool, made of shiny carbon and metal, laden with metaphorical significance.

Once you've explained the logic of the whole thing, I'm sure he'll run right out and get you one. For what man does not want to communicate to the world that he is able to provide many foodstuffs and win the passion of the woman he loves? Rare is he that would choose the front-loader over significant evidence of conquest.