Women spend ten days a year in a grumpy mood, according to the Daily Mail. The top triggers include being overweight, feeling undervalued, having a bad hair day, breaking a nail and the wrong time of the month.
The standard reaction to this among the men I know was to question the number of days. More like 100, surely? My reaction was slightly different. I’m not convinced there’s any such thing as a ‘grumpy day’ for most women, any more than there is a ‘happy day’. Rather, all days contain peaks and troughs and the variation isn’t between good days and bad days so much as days on which their mood swings are violent and frequent and days on which they’re relatively stable.
OK — I’m being provocative. Trolling politically correct feminists is such easy sport it’s difficult to resist, but the truth is I recognised more of myself in this Daily Mail article than my wife.
Caroline is occasionally grumpy, but not as often as I am, as our children can attest. I find almost everything they do irritating, from dropping crumbs on the kitchen floor to listening to Capital Radio. And the ingratitude! The little Chinese Emperors take everything for granted. I spend the hours before bedtime trailing round after them picking up their socks and pants, folding up their trousers and shirts, helping them into their pyjamas, putting toothpaste on their toothbrushes… It’s like a scene from Downton Abbey in which I’m butler, housemaid and valet rolled into one.
I know, I know. If I want them to do these things for themselves I should leave them to their own devices, but I can’t face the nuclear meltdown that would result. I just want to get them into bed as quickly as possible so I can go downstairs and join my wife in front of the TV before she finishes the bottle of wine she uncorked when she handed the kids over to me at 6.30 p.m.
All the ‘triggers’ that account for women’s grumpy moods apply to me, too. Take weight gain. Caroline has hovered around the eight-and-a-half stone mark since the day we got married, but I yo-yo between 160lbs and 180lbs, depending on where I am in my dieting cycle. Sure enough, if my weekly weigh-in reveals I’ve put on a couple of pounds, I sink into a depression that lasts for the rest of the day. Bad hair days have less of an impact — every day is a bad hair day when you’re a middle-aged man — but I definitely have a wrong time of the month. It’s the day the £2,500 mortgage payment leaves my bank account.
One of the things that accounts for women’s grumpy moods is the menopause, according to the Mail, and I think the same applies to me — only in my case it’s the ‘manopause’. This condition, caused by ever-declining levels of testosterone, has a number of delightful symptoms including shrinking testicles, man boobs and a tendency suddenly to talk in a high-pitched voice. At the age of 14 I dressed up as a woman in order to get into an X-rated film and, I’m happy to say, fooled almost no one. Now-adays, I don’t think anyone would bat an eyelid.
The truth is, I’m much more moody than Caroline. I used to pride myself on being able to withstand extreme levels of anxiety, soaking it up and remaining focused on the task in hand, such as having to write 1,000 words about a breaking news story in 45 minutes. Not any more. Since turning 50, stupid little things have begun to stress me out, like not being able to get dressed as quickly as I’d like. Poor Caroline has to stand there every morning while my six-year-old son and I both have tantrums because we can’t do our top buttons up. She often jokes that being married to me is like having a fifth child, but the difference is that they’re all going to grow up while I’m going to become more and more infantile.
The article in the Daily Mail was based on a survey by a vitamin company, but I already stuff myself full of vitamins and it makes little difference. The remedies preferred by women, apparently, are exercise, eating chocolate and spending time on their own. But I don’t want to increase my chocolate consumption because if I did I’d have to exercise to lose the weight, and spending time on my own isn’t an option with four kids. I think the only solution is testosterone replacement therapy.
Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.
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