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Last week at work, I got in the lift with two girls from our floor. Technically, given that they were both well into their 30s, they are probably better described as ‘women’, but I don’t like the word, so I will stick to my childish guns. Besides, if I set the benchmark there, it’s not long until I’ll have to start referring to myself as a man, which is horribly conflicting to how I feel.

Anyhow, I stood there in the lift and obeyed the 3rd commandment of lift etiquette – ‘Thou shalt but stare at thy shoes/blackberry until such time as you depart the forced-awkward situation’. This appears to be a uniquely male dogma.

“I absolutely love your bag, where did you get it?”

“Oh thank you. It’s from…”

I’ll refrain from continuing the transcript for a mixture of reasons. Firstly the origin of the bag meant nothing to me and I have duly forgotten it. Secondly, it was about the 3rd time that week that I had heard a practically identical conversation. And thirdly, I don’t think that even the two girls in question were actually listening from this point onwards. They had switched onto verbal autopilot.

It’s a strange sort of mutually beneficial agreement that girls have with each other, the whole compliment thing. Being a boy, I have no taste whatsoever, and certainly no opinions on bags or shoes. I cannot therefore comment on the sincerity of the compliment. It must however be an incredibly warming feeling to have people saying nice things about you to your face on a daily basis.

Whenever a guy comments on anther man’s appearance, it’s almost invariably in the negative. You’ll rinse one of your friends for getting an absurd haircut, while I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked if I got dressed in the dark. But pay a compliment to another man and they’ll just stare at you with suspicion and unease. To prove this, I was sufficiently motivated to try it out for a day:

“Love what you’ve done with your hair”

I said to a friend of mine in the pub. Stony silence. This was awkward. Why hadn’t he thanked me and said how much he liked my shoes? I had to give up. This was making me paranoid. Besides, I was in very real danger of being punched. The experiment was abandoned. An unmitigated disaster.

The reason behind this, I concluded, was that boys (or at least the vast majority of them) don’t really care about how they look. We are too lazy to put any effort into our appearance, so when a compliment comes out the blue, it makes us uncomfortable. We assume it is a trap, a piss-take. Almost all boys could look better, we could embrace metrosexuality and think deeply about what to wear, but can we be arsed? No, not really.

I’m convinced that if the wearing of make-up was accepted a unisex concept, most boys still wouldn’t wear any. Why bother when you can have another 10 minutes in bed in the morning. I mean for god’s sake, most of the time we can’t even be bothered to shave.

Girls strive to achieve perfection from the moment they wake up in the morning, and because boys are too ignorant to openly appreciate the effort that goes in, they compliment each other perpetually. They have long since abandoned hope of one of us doing so, and taken it upon themselves to provide the credit where credit’s due. Fair play to them. We’re useless.

This pride in the end product is not confined to appearance though, if you give an identical task to a boy and a girl, of almost any age, the former will go tearing into it with the ambition of finishing it as soon as possible, while the latter will be far more methodical and thorough. This is applicable to any scenario from university essays, to driving, to booking a holiday. Not for girls is the mad, spontaneous dash to the finish line, instead it is a meticulously planned journey in which no I is left undotted nor T uncrossed. The only men who take pride in their work are artists, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a lot of them are quite effeminate.

A good example of this occurred last week. My girlfriend and I decided to cook a dinner party for a group of friends. Had this been left to me, the food would have been prepared, cooked and conceivably even bought after my guests had arrived. Additionally, the only quality requirement would have been that no-one was violently ill at the table.

But this meal was not reflecting merely on me, it was a joint venture. As such, it was planned with military precision weeks in advance. Most of the preparation was done the night before, while my creative input was reduced to the level of peeling vegetables. The quality of this meal was of utmost importance. Needless to say the end result was exceptional. So much so that I didn’t even have to resort to my usual dinner party trick of plying the guests with so much alcohol that they forget what it tasted like, while providing a handy scapegoat for the next day’s inevitable stomach upsets.

The following day every girl who had attended sent one of us a text commending the quality of the food. Only one boy did similar, and he merely asked me to send his regards to a stuffed bird that he’d ended the evening deep in conversation with. Girls appreciate when an effort has been put in, and they give credit where credit’s due. This is why they continually compliment each other.

Boys only understand the other end of the spectrum, hence 99% of ‘lad chat’ involves ripping the piss out of each other. It won’t cause any offense, as there’s no pride there in the first place. We’re Neanderthals, we put the minimum in and we ask for nothing in return.

So I’ll nail my colours to the mast, girls are better than boys. That’s right, I said it.

But given the choice, I’ll take the lazy, stress-free 2nd place any day… Because I’m a boy.

by Harry Harland

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