Ask Charlie: Nature trains men to be magenta-eyed
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –Why green? Why don’t people just turn magenta or hot pink with jealousy? Are those colors too ’80s or something? You go Molly Ringwald.
Even the most inexperienced color-and-emotion-coordinators – people working in a field projected to create 4.5 million jobs over the next three weeks (according to Obama), can tell you that green just doesn’t work as an dependable rage gauge. It actually clashes with jealousy.
Green and blue – the colors of the sky and earth – are associated with tranquility and serenity. What on earth, and sky, was that Shakespeare guy thinking anyway?
So, what might a 1980s 250-pound male who is magenta with jealousy look like? There’s a slight chance he might resemble the singer for Twisted Sister. But what forces of nature may have conspired to create jealousy and rock stars in need of eye-shadow-application guidance in the first place?
Ladies, imagine you’ve recently married. Things are going fine in the marriage but then you go out one day after work for girls’ night out. You have a great time but meet a great guy who shares your interest in stamp collecting. So you take him home to show him your collection.
The two of you walk into your house and head up the stairs toward your bedroom, where the stamps are stowed under your bed. On the way up, you pass by hubby, who’s vigorously sprouting roots in the couch as he watches the game. Though he saw you and the strange man, the tiny potato buds sprouting out of his ears prevented him from fully hearing what you had said.
Instead of expressing concern over the strange man going up to his bedroom with his wife, he settles in, allowing his roots to swirl deeper into the couch and coil around the springs.
Why is this such an unlikely scenario? Why aren’t men like this? If the stamp collecting reaches critical levels, wifey might get pregnant and hubby may end up investing his time, energy and resources on a child that’s not of his own flesh and blood.
If a man ends up raising another man’s child, his own genes will not be carried into future generations. To borrow an example from noted psychologist Steven Pinker, when two homes are burning, one with five children who are not yours and the other with one child who is yours, who will you rescue first? The universal answer is just what you’re thinking – your own child.
There’s a saying, “mother’s baby, father’s maybe.” Unlike women, men never really know if the babies they think are theirs really are. This was especially the case over the last several hundred thousand years. Evolutionarily speaking, if a man did not feel jealousy, he was going down a one-way street into biological oblivion. He and his genes would not replicate. And in the case of the woman who decides to rescue five kids over her own, the same end result would apply: zero genetic offspring.
In most species, males go out of their way to be sure that they are the true fathers of their offspring. Accordingly, nature has trained human male psyches to erupt over the slightest hint of physical infidelity.
Robert Valko is a graduate of Northwestern University and currently is writing two books on evolutionary psychology. E-mail Robert with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.