“Men are from Venus,” I said, trying to make the best of a difference of opinion I was having with my beloved, “and women…”

“No, it’s women who are from Venus,” she interjected. “That is , if you’re going to go along with that silly book.” We could agree on that one thing, apparently. 

I plunged along. “That can’t be right. It’s all in the rhyme.”

“What rhyme?” she said. I had her there. 

“You know, ‘It was on the good ship Venus, the ship’s figurehead was the captain’s…’”

“Doesn’t scan. And anyway, it’s all about the ‘V.’ You know, Venus, vagina, vulva.”

“Venereal,” I said, “The disease of love. Venus, love.”


She gave me a Look, adding, “That just goes to prove what that guy said about taking psychedelics.”

Oh yeah, years ago, we were talking to a therapist about his program for getting quickly to the heart of whatever it was we were interested in exploring at the time, by ingesting a dose of a well-known psychedelic substance. “You’d be taking a bigger dose than Louisa,” he told me. “Why?” she asked. “Because men are more defended.” It has become a family joke. “Men are more defended,” one of us will say. 

(We also joke, “Well, you know, women are devious,” quoting my sister, who said this about another family member years ago.)

“I’m not more defended,” I said. “I just think the whole male-female thing is silly.”

“Well, these days it’s all moot anyway. Look at Facebook, allowing dozens of ‘custom gender’ options as well as male and female.”

I had to look it up. She was right, everything from ‘androgynous’ to ‘gender-fluid’ to ‘trans’ (with and without an asterisk) to ‘two-spirit’ and — in case they’d missed anything — ‘neither.’

“We’ve come a long way from LGBTQ,” she said.

Swedish actor Sebastian Berggren demonstrating the concept of dual gender. (Wikimedia, public domain)

“Actually, we’re all probably from Mars,” I said. “Or beyond.” I’d been reading up on panspermia, the idea that live on Earth was seeded by microbial packages from space. (Explaining why we don’t find any simpler life forms than bacteria, which is really weird, given that bacteria is so complicated, DNA and all.)

We segued into which gender would run the world better—unlike some of our friends, she isn’t so sure we’d be better off with a female-run society. But still… “Look at…” She paused. We don’t use His Name in our house. It’s a YHWH thing. “But then you’ve got iron women like Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi,” I said. “All terrible, heartless, divisive.” “Angela Merkel,” she parried. “Smart, diplomatic, unifying.”

I looked at the clock. Twenty minutes had gone by, 20 minutes gone forever. But hey, this is what they call intergender communication, right? I’d plunged in, survived, come out the other side humbled but unscathed. I considered it a win all around.