I don’t know why everybody goes around beating up Sigmund Freud for being wrong about so many things. He was a scientific pioneer and a genius and, if he hadn’t come up with so many theories, he wouldn’t have been wrong so often. You’re telling me he should have kept his mouth shut till he was sure he was right?
Anyway, I’ve always been inclined to cut Freud a lot of slack (which is probably schlack in German, but I am too busy to look it up). After all, if it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have spent so many years of my life in therapy.
That would have been catastrophic. I would have spent my life boring all my friends and acquaintances with my childhood and adolescent tales of woe.
Instead, I bored total strangers, but at least I paid them well. (I haven’t forgotten the self-absorbed therapist who pulled out her compact and applied lipstick during one of my fascinating, heartrending stories; I wish I hadn’t paid her at all and I hope she got lipstick on her teeth. But I like to think I am too evolved to carry a grudge.)
I also like Freud because he famously asked, “What do women want?” (German translation not easily available here, either.) Wow! He asked what we want! Do you know how many men never do that, in any language? I refuse to name names, but I’m thinking millions.
Anyway, in case you’re a man and you’re reading this, I should tell you I have the answer to Freud’s question: Women want cereal.
I know this because I can remember my mother putting on her nightgown and eating All-Bran every night. I thought she was crazy. (What did I know? I was in my early twenties and had been in therapy less than a decade. My mother was crazy, I later learned, but it probably wasn’t because of the cereal.)
Eons later, I realize how right Mother was. When I don’t have lunch plans, I happily sit down to a bowl of granola. Happily! Got that? It’s highly satisfying and doesn’t require any gourmet talents. Also, it’s whole grain, so I get to feel virtuous about myself, which doesn’t happen often, believe me.
“Who’d you eat lunch with?” my husband will ask.
I’ll tell him I just had lunch by myself, crunching on some cereal with almond milk. Before I’ve even finished the sentence, he’ll be shaking his head, muttering about how “grim” that sounds.
I’ll start screaming that it’s not grim — not at all. I love cereal! I enjoyed it! — and he’ll tell me I’m sounding highly defensive.
“I don’t think men understand women’s relationship with cereal,” I told our daughter over the phone recently.
She agreed that it was just wonderful and she loves it, too. I hung up the phone, feeling great about the younger generation. Not even out of her twenties, and she already knows what women want.
(Copyright 2011 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read a somewhat related post on the sordid story of why a woman gets the itch to move on