Women know a lot of drivel about celebrities. Men, generally, do not. I have struggled with this concept over the years, trying in vain to understand the evolutionary purpose of retaining information as pertinent as Heidi Klum’s relationship history and the fact that Billy Bob Thornton has a phobia about antiques. I don’t even LIKE Billy Bob Thornton. And yet still I know about the antiques.
This does not make me better than someone who’s blissfully ignorant of such things. It makes me worse. Particularly because this inane knowledge is squatting on valuable mental real estate that should be occupied by more relevant things like where the hell I parked my car at Westfield.
From a Darwinist perspective, it makes no sense either. Knowing that Winona Ryder and Gwyneth Paltrow used to be best friends until Gwyneth stole Winona’s script for Shakespeare In Love, won the part and an Oscar….is that going to help me survive a potato famine? Possible but unlikely.
A few months ago, I walked into my kitchen one morning and said this to my husband: “So, the twins were born. A girl and a boy. Knox and Vivienne.” He looked at me blankly. “Who? What twins?”
I swallowed my frustration. Silly me. It was early. Give the man a clue. “Angelina.”
Still blank. “Angelina who?”
My sarcasm was wasted. I could see him trying to understand why I was talking about a storybook dancing mouse.
“Angelina JOLIE. She. Had. The. Twins.”
“Was she pregnant?” he replied innocently. And then my head fell off.
Well, it practically did. I was gob smacked. How could this person who lived in the same house as me not know that Angelina Jolie was pregnant? How could he have missed this crucial piece of information FOR NINE MONTHS? Twelve if you count the pre-pregnancy media speculation. How?
The answer, of course, was between his legs. He has no vagina. Which is an excellent quality in a husband but a severe impediment when it comes to discussing celebrities.
Picking my head up off the floor that morning, I put it back on and decided to explore his Angelina ignorance a little further. For sport.
“So. Seriously. You really didn’t know she was pregnant?”
“Do you know anything about her?”
“She’s married to Brad Pitt”
“Not married but close. Do they have kids?”
“Adopted or biological?”
“I know one is adopted from somewhere in Asia. Not sure about the rest.”
The fact I can recite the names, ages and birth countries of all the Brangelina offspring is so unremarkable to me, I briefly forgot I’m the freak, not him.
It’s not the first time I have been startled by my husband’s low celebrity IQ. Earlier this year he glanced over my shoulder at the magazine I was reading and saw a photo of Ellen deGeneres and Portia de Rossi. “Are those two together?” he asked, genuinely surprised. “How could you not KNOW that?” I spluttered. His reply was sage. “Why would I know it?”
Fair point. He doesn’t read those magazines or watch E! News. He doesn’t talk about cel-lesbians with his mates. They don’t text each other when Kirsten Dunst checks into rehab. There’s not a lot of analysis over a beer about whether Jennifer Anniston is too needy or whether Nicole wears wigs on the red carpet because her hair is naturally thin.
Men. Just. Don’t. Care.
Even when they hear a piece of celebrity news or gossip, men rarely retain it. And this is sensible. It frees up hard-drive space for other things. Like cricket trivia. And the names of cars. Meanwhile, I can’t name the captain of the Australian cricket team with complete certainty despite living with a cricket-tragic husband and son who discuss it often.
Look, I have far more salient things to recall like the name, nationality and occupation of Heidi Klum’s first husband before she married Seal (Ric Pepino – an Australian hairdresser) and the biological father of her first child (Formula One boss Flavio Briatore, who used to date Naomi Campbell…. I could continue on this six-degrees-of-romantic-separation track all the way back to Kevin Bacon and probably even Kevin Rudd).
But why? WHY? Why can I – and so many other women – remember silly rubbish about people we don’t know, people we will never know?
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s rooted in the primitive female need to gather. While cave men hunted meat, cave-women gathered salad. They also gathered information because they had lots of time to talk while sitting around sorting bush leaves and preparing roast mammoth.
But hunting? That required silence. A lot like watching cricket. This is why I am not allowed to watch cricket with my men-folk. Because I’m not silent and I ask too many questions about the players and their personal lives. At least now I understand why I do this. As my husband observed, “When you talk as much as women do, you need to have an enormous amount of useless information on hand.” Ah, so that explains Billy Bob.
*It’s Ric Pepino, Heidi Klum’s first husband. Did you guess correctly? Congratulations, you’re a little bit sad. Me too.