What Women Really Want

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


19 comments… add one
  • Now here is the question that will reveal your inner secrets without going to therapy. Do you like your cereal to keep its crunch or become soft and soggy. I am not sure exactly what deep psychological secrets either preference reveals, I just know instinctively that it means something . . . probably excrutiatingly embarrassing.

  • Sheryl Link

    You amaze me with the way you can turn a mundane topic, like cereal, into a story about Freud. For what it’s worth, I am known to enjoy a big bowl of cereal – with almond milk, too – for many a dinner. Add in some plump raisins and I’m really happy. Now, what would Freud say about that??

  • Cindy D. Link

    I, too, eat cereal and almond milk almost daily. Yesterday, I switched it up and had a banana in my “dinner cereal.” No muss, no fuss and we are on to other things.

  • Never mind the coffeepot, my mom would almost knock the rest of us down in the mornings in her swift pursuit towards the cereal cabinet. Now I know why.
    Just pity all those men who struck out uttering, “Would you like to come up and see my etchings?” If any of them had only whispered, “would you like to come up and sample my Kellogg collection?” The world could have been theirs.

    As next Valentine’s Day approaches, you’ll find me walking past all the men’s hangouts with a megaphone and a pushcart peddling boxes of All-Bran swathed in red ribbons and hearts! “Getcha cereal fer your sweetie, right here!”

  • I think this might be what men want too. My DH eats a LOT of cereal.

  • Cindy A Link

    Mmm — soggy Grapenuts. A bazillion calories for three tablespoons, but oh so worth it.

  • b condra Link

    Yummy…grapenuts. When I was growing up in Maine, one of my favorite ice creams was Grapenut. Whoda thunk it. The other was Coffee. A perfect frozen breakfast.

  • Too funny! Before sitting down (just a moment ago) to read the posts on your blog that I had yet to read, I fixed a bowl of cereal and I am eating it for lunch. Then I read this post! You’ve got it right!

  • This gave me a real chuckle. Does oatmeal count? That’s what I had for lunch today.

  • Kellogg was busy inventing breakfast cereals as we know them in 1897 only a few years before Freud was asking what women want. Coincidence?

  • I completely agree. I eat a mix of Great Grains and granola for breakfast every day. When I am starving at night, I eat a bowl of Rice Krispies. It just makes me happy. Freud would not have understood cereal for sure.

  • My husband will eat cereal anytime of the day or night, as a satisfying snack. I take mine with real slivered almonds and any of it with cinnamon is good. 🙂

  • Susan Link

    There is something refreshing about having a bowl of Special K with cold milk. It wouldn’t fill me up enough for lunch (I need protein) but I do enjoy it as a snack between meals.

  • Cereal is one of the world’s most perfect foods! My husband totally understands my obsession, although I don’t quite understand HIS weird cereal habits – he only eats Cheerios or Corn Chex, and never with milk. Just dry, sometimes with a glass of orange juice on the side.

  • I, too, love cereal. It’s really just amazing stuff, no two ways about it.

  • The best part about eating cereal – for any meal – is there’s only one bowl to clean up. I like mine with almond milk, too.

  • Guess I’m going to have to try almond milk. Never realized it was such a trend. I had an uncle who poured coffee on his cereal. And my husband is the one with the fixation on cereal in this household. Hmmmm, now THERE’s a question for Freud.

  • I think it brings a warm feeling, the best of childhood is remembered in cereal, even if it’s bran cereal that you didn’t eat as a kid.

  • Count me as a Raisin Bran fan. I must say I’ve been tempted to buy those Count Chocula cereal or whatever flavors the pink and blue boxes are called that you see for sale only around Halloween. Does that even count as cereal?

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