While I was at a conference this past weekend I noticed something interesting. Whenever two people met for the first time, the first thing they usually asked each other was where the other person lived. Not that strange, right? But what was strange was how the answer was different depending on who asked it to whom. When two women asked each other this question, the answer was usually fairly short and to the point and had something to do with proximity to a shopping destination. For instance when I told someone where I was from, I didn’t tell them what town I lived in… I told them what mall I was near. However, when two guys asked each other the same thing, the answer wasn’t merely a location, but an entire set of directions on how to get there.
Guy #1: “So, where do you live?”
Guy #2: “Oh, you take 95 north to Exit 43, turn right and go about 2 miles up the hill past the liquor store, and then take your next left. I’m the last house on the right with the basketball hoop on the garage. But don’t park in the driveway cuz it ticks off my mother.”
I realized that guy #2 wasn’t just giving a location; he was actually extending an invitation. What he was really saying was “Come to my house, bring a six pack of beer and come shoot some hoops with me.”
Guy #1 got this right away.
But my takeaway was slightly different.
All I got was, “You still live with your mother???”
In contrast, when I told my new girlfriend what stores I lived near, she knew I wasn’t really telling her where I lived. I was extending an invitation, as well. What I was really saying was, “These are the kind of stores I like and if you like them too, you should come shopping with me.”
This is exactly what the other woman heard.
What the guys heard was: “Blah blah (name of store) blah blah.”
Now here’s where things got dicey. When a man and a woman met and the same question was asked, he gave her directions and she thought he was trying to pick her up. When she told him what mall she lived near, he thought she was telling him where to go to buy an engagement ring.
Once I realized this dynamic, I decided I should shake things up and talk to a guy in a way that he could understand. So when I met some guy and he asked where I lived, I said,
“Take 78 west to exit 7B, go past the mall, up the hill, take your second right and I’m around the circle with a soccer net in the front yard. But don’t park in the driveway cuz it ticks off my husband.”
And what he heard was: “You have a husband?”
Which was exactly what I intended him to hear.