What a Man Wants: Secret men’s business

This article was published in Bartender Magazine’s October issue.
By Phillip Duff

Bars are immeasurably better now that women are as welcome in them as men which is a development of recent occurrence. Until the 1930s in Prohibition-era America bars didn’t cater for women and certainly not nice women. Before the rise of the ‘singles bar’ in the 1960s there was nowhere that you could go as a man or woman to just have a drink and maybe meet someone of the opposite sex. When women gained finally access to the bar-room they improved things for everyone.

Women don’t take any poor form when it comes to the finer details: clean toilets, nice interior design and tasty, appealing drinks are high on their list of demands. Bars are now designed primarily for women and it is because of women that the industry adhere to new design mantras that involve lavishing time, attention and cash on the toilets. These long neglected areas of a bar are deal-makers or -breakers for the lady drinker.

What however can one chap enjoy in the company of other chaps that is strangely all to lacking when the little women are around I ask you? I have compiled a wee list.

1. Shooting the Breeze


The Lord may just have well have said, “And for where two or three are gathered in My name, someone is bound to tell the Jam & Marmalade joke.” Men – it has been trenchantly observed – communicate by way of subterfuge and storytelling is high on the list. They like reminiscing about movies they’ve seen, jokes they’ve heard and mad experiences that have happened to them. From the stories that he tells, you can get the measure of your fellow man. Women, bless them, communicate with each other by revealing their own thoughts and needs and wants to each other, and then gauging each others reactions. There are few things as fun as whiling away a lazy afternoon in the pub with a couple of mates telling tall tales or discussing the finer episodes of The A-Team. Bliss.

2. Drinking

It is a rare woman who enjoys the sauce quite as much as a gentleman. Mad concerns such as carbohydrate count, calorie amounts and the degree to which the volume of liquid is pee-inducing (there always, always, always being a queue for the loos if you’re a laydee) flit through their skulls before ordering. Chaps, on the other hand, drink as much as they like for as long as they can stand, getting down to the serious business of becoming radically disassociated a la Lebowski with no time to lose.

3. Choosing A Drink

For a chap, life is a linear series of choices. Blonde or brunette. France or Spain. Turkey or chicken. The chap’s way to get ahead in life is to keep making choices (as well as possible) as fast as he can. The point is what you’re choosing not how long you put into the decision making process. Choosing is tricky for girls Women (see #1 above) express themselves with what they say, so when they appear to be thinking out loud through the choosing process, in fact they are trying to gauge what you and the rest of the company think they should order instead of thinking about what they actually want.. Consequently it takes what seems like forever for them to choose something as easy as a drink – let alone dinner.

4. Being Nerdy

All men are nerdy. It starts in youth with suspiciously-detailed school projects on sharks, dinosaurs and trains and blossoms into full-blown lock-the-doors near-autism in adulthood with sports scores and supercar statistics. Nick Hornby’s book (and film) High Fidelity wasn’t so much of a film as a documentary for its male viewers. Women are not nerdy. It has become cool for them to say they are, but they are not. This is because, apart from once a month or in the presence of babies, high heels or catwalk fashions, women are not mentally unbalanced and men are.  And as much fun as the company of women is every once in a while it is superb to get your geek on among like minds – which are all male – and dive recklessly into the deep, deep pool of debating. Whether it be the best Arsenal sides or whether a Dodge Viper’s better than a Bugatti Veyron it is of little consequence. Are whiskey-barrel bitters superior to Jerry Thomas’ Decanter ones? The verdict is of no great point, but armed with facts so obscure and inconsequential that they barely deserve the description of ‘trivia’ men spend hours portraying themselves as veritable demi-god on their chosen topic.

So there we have it; an inconsequential list. But then that was to be expected – we all know bars ARE better with women in them, after all. Still, when the days darken and the nights get cold, there’s nothing quite like an afternoon drinking session in an agreeably dodgy pub with your (male) mates, telling inappropriate jokes and drinking large quantities of beer….will anyone second this motion?

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