Sep 092009
Authors: Savannah King

According to Felicity Huffman and Patricia Wolff, not all women are crazy, and not all men are jerks.

“We’ve all heard it before, the two clichés that divide the gender camps: All women are crazy. All men are jerks. But we know you’re not jerks, and believe it or not, not all women are crazy,” write Huffman and Wolff.

Between the two, Huffman and Wolff provide proof for this theory abound in “A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend.”

Primarily aimed at men, this non-traditional book contains chapters with titles like “Do I Look Fat?” (which details how to answer those oh-so-tricky backhanded questions women ask) and “Your Call is Important to Us” (which acknowledges men’s general hatred of long phone conversations and gives tips on how to tactfully avoid them.)

Sound a bit gender biased? It sort of is. Except that in giving men tips on women, Huffman and Wolff have recognized and accepted how men think in order to give appropriate advice.

In doing so, they have also opened up the book to women, so they may see how they are viewed and how men think.

It isn’t always flattering for either side.

After all, Huffman and Wolff write, women do sometimes act catty and use special “code” phrases, in which men are given handy guides.

For instance, when a girl says the time-honored phrase somewhere along the lines of “Well, I think I’d better go,” she’s really saying, “Beg me to stay.”

Should she say: “No honey, I’m fine!” Huffman and Wolff correctly translate this girl-speak as: “You’ve really made me sad/angry/upset, and let’s have a really long talk about it.”

Readers will gain insight into PMS, understand the correct way to talk dirty and “learn how to survive her driving.”

The concept is fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to understand stuff from “all the electronics in your house baffle her, and why she thinks you did it on purpose,” all the way down to why women need so much assurance of your devotion, All … The … Freaking … Time.

On the flip side, women will now understand the “zone” men find themselves when you watch television, have admiration for your gender-bound duty to do the asking out, come away with new appreciation for why you fart in front of people and find out why many men can never find their stupid keys (there’s a biological reason, ladies!).

It’s this impartiality, along with some blatant fact stating and fun poking, from Huffman and Wolff, that garners some sheepish looks and embarrassed giggles from both sexes.

What is truly hilarious is that both men and women will recognize themselves in this book. According to this book, women know all about these things we do to men, though they may not do them on purpose; men, after reading this book, should be perfectly aware of the consternation they cause women.

While Huffman and Wolff will give you fantastic tips to survive in the dating world, they admit that men and women are incredibly different and will never be able to see entirely eye-to-eye.

Thus, they created the granddaddy of all dating advice for men: “More important than understanding her is accepting that her customs and concerns, like those of some foreign country, are integral to who she is, and that you must respect them even if they seem insane to you.”

And ladies, that goes both ways.

Book reviewer Savannah King can be reached at

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