Of Dead Rovers And Live Cabarets



Ho, ho, ho. Happy Valentine's Day. Hopefully you haven't taken down that mistletoe yet.

We have much to be thankful for in the Rim country this Valentine's Day, what with the advent of our very own "cabaret," The Juniper Lounge at Pete's Place. Love, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, is truly in the air in Star Valley.

But there is even more good news. HarperCollins Publishers is pleased to announce that John Gray's blockbuster book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" is finally coming out in paperback -- and just in time for Valentine's Day.

Published 12 years ago, 14 million copies of the hardcover edition have been sold at $25 a pop. Now, for just $12.95, you can find out why relationships between members of the opposite sex are so dysfunctional.

But wait, there's more! The paperback version features a "hipper" cover and a new 11-page introduction by Gray.

Order now and you'll also receive, at no additional cost, a photo of Mars shot by the Spirit rover before it, too, became dysfunctional. Photos of Venus are, of course, unavailable because no rover has ever been able to get up close and personal with the female planet.

The premise of Gray's book is that men and women are so different, we might as well have come from different planets. But by understanding and perhaps even appreciating these differences, we might at least come to tolerate one another.

On Mars, Gray points out, the inhabitants are more interested in objects and things rather than people and feelings. They don't read magazines like "Psychology Today," "Self" or "People."

As you might guess, on Venus "everyone studies psychology and has at least a master's degree in counseling." Venusians value love, communication, beauty and relationships above all things.

You can see where Gray is going with this. If a woman gives advice to a man, he is most likely offended.

"When a woman tries to improve a man, he feels she is trying to fix him ..." he writes. "She mistakenly thinks she is just helping him grow."

For our part, men need to resist the temptation to offer solutions to the women in our lives.

"Men need to remember that women talk about problems to get close and not necessarily to get solutions," Gray writes. It is far better to "listen patiently with empathy, seeking truly to understand the other's feelings."

Let me see if I've got this straight. A woman shouldn't offer a man advice, while a man shouldn't offer a woman solutions. That means men and women will get along just fine if they don't talk to one another. But alas, I have simply fallen prey to another Martian tendency -- to retreat to my cave.

"When a man is stressed, he will withdraw into the cave of his mind ...," Gray writes. "At such times, he becomes increasingly distant, forgetful, unresponsive, and preoccupied in his relationships."

What a Venusian does when there are problems is to talk about her feelings. And then it gets worse, according to Gray.

"When she begins talking, she does not prioritize the significance of any problem," he writes. "If she is upset, then she is upset about it all, big and small."

Now if this doesn't create a monumental chasm, I don't know what does. But if Gray couldn't resolve this impasse, then nobody would buy his book, so of course he does:

"The Martians and Venusians lived together in peace because they were able to respect their differences," he writes.

Once a Venusian feels heard, she stops dwelling on her problems.

Martians therefore need to hone their listening skills without feeling blamed or responsible.

When a Martian goes to his cave, the Venusian does not take it personally and realizes this is not the time to have an intimate conversation. It is time, instead, to go shopping. Honest.

I have to confess that I have a hardcover edition of Gray's book, and that I read all this stuff years ago. I must also confess that as much sense as it makes I had completely forgotten it all and reverted to my old Martian ways.

Now, on the eve of another Valentine's Day, I have decided to recommit myself to the principles Gray espouses. But I think I know now why the Spirit rover went blank up on Mars -- it is obviously a male rover that has retreated to his cave.

And if all else fails and I slip back into my old habits, it is comforting to know that yes, Virginia, there is a Star Valley. Happy Valentine's Day.

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