The Uncomplicated Man

James Dean

There’s nothing more satisfying than a revelation. You know…an aha! moment. When those light bulbs turn on in our heads like one did for me recently, a girl’s gotta share.

Men. I won’t argue with anyone that men aren’t difficult. They certainly can be, they definitely are sometimes. I’ve known a few like this in my life for sure, but one thing they are not is complicated.

Robert Redford

Exhibit A

Scene: A long silence in the car with just two passengers lends a mother the notion that something deep and pensive is brewing. Could my young, impressionable son need my ear to bend? Is there something difficult on his mind that makes him so quiet and thoughtful as the miles tick off on our trek down the interstate? Is he hurting? Does he need my advice?

Me: “Buddy, are you ok? You’re so quiet. What’s on your mind?”

Son: “Tires.”  

It really is that simple. He really was thinking about tires. We sometimes mistake their occasional silence for insolence and accuse our sons and husbands and boyfriends and dads of being insensitive to whatever in the world is bothering us and we shouldn’t. Because they are dudes, there are only a few occasions in their life when they find themselves trying to solve problems they don’t yet have, like women do. While we are processing imaginary scenarios, or when we are having a premeditated conflict with someone, and we are trying to imagine it all as it plays out, and as we contemplate the four hundred what-ifs that could occur, men are living right smack in the middle of the here and now. They aren’t being glib. They are taking things one at a time while we are planning a week out like our life depended on it. We should learn from them.

Marlon Brando

Exhibit B


Another car ride. On the way to the airport for a week long trip we swing by and pick up breakfast and I begin to over-think everything.

Me, inside my own head: “Did I remember our tickets? Our IDs? Is the hotel nice? Will it rain? What if I get a headache on the plane? I forgot my day planner. What if I need to bring more cash? I should have gotten my hair done before I left.” 

Then: “Hey Kiddo, what are you thinking about?”

Son: “That sausage biscuit I just ate. It actually had a bun instead of a biscuit and I like that because if you have a biscuit it makes your mouth get all dried up but with a bun, it was so soft. It was SO good! I didn’t expect it to be so good. I’m serious, it was delicious.”

Are you kidding me? He was thinking about his breakfast?

I’m not saying men can’t be deep. They can, I’ve seen it. But they don’t exist in this visceral state 99% of their lives like we do and that’s a good thing.

Now that you acknowledge I’m probably right, go back through the images I’ve included in this post. The most beautiful men in the world, each with a brooding, pensive look on their face. What were they thinking when these pictures were taken? We can’t know for sure, but I can guess. Tires, biscuits, the heat. Perhaps Paul Newman’s top button on his shirt was too tight? Maybe James Dean forgot his cup of coffee that morning. Who knows! But I can bet you that whatever it was, it wasn’t complicated.

So, here is my charge to you. Don’t make things – and men – difficult when they just aren’t. Don’t be angry at them when they can’t read your mind, when they don’t predict your agenda, and when they fail to understand the way you think. Men are wired so differently. Most of the time, if you want a thoughtful conversation, ask a thoughtful, pointed question. But if you’re waiting for a broody sideways glance, a wrinkled brow, a petulant inquisition that will just bowl you over with introspection, be ready to talk about anything except, perhaps, your feelings. I am learning to expect just about anything if I’m curious and brave enough to ask, “What are you thinking about?” Finally. I get it, boys.

Paul Newman, Getty Images

About Dawn Quarles

Dawn Quarles is a high school political science and American history teacher who moonlights as a blogger and writer. She lives on Pensacola Beach, Florida.


2 Responses to “The Uncomplicated Man”

  1. Dawn
    As a man I love the 400 things we are thinking about in advance: that is why I love to nickname women as complex but NOT complicated! Complicated to me sounds like men have given up and admitted they are inferior (which we are most of the time but do not want to admit it). So Thank you for giving us credit here: after all: aren’t we the weaker vessel?

  2. Chelsea says:

    I absolutely love everything about this!

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