Yes, No, Maybe: Woman's Operating System #2


There are millions of ways to make a woman fume, but only a few to make her happy. Her brain simultaneously runs myriads of intricate operating systems. All over the world, scientists compare notes to study its key elements. Quantum physics is an elementary science compared to the analysis of a woman's brain. Ask Einstein, Stephen Hawking, or Elon Musk. They would rather split atoms or fly cars to Mars than say: "Eureka! We finally understand women."


I learned early on of the relatively basic woman's operating system, #2. It is built around yes, no, and maybe - three units of the decision making that may seem easy to a man until he realizes that they are up for interpretation. Indeed, every man's action is often a reaction to a woman's head nodding up and down or left to right. If he wants to keep her around, he must know how to joggle among her yes and no or the intricate maybe. Because when things go down the drain due to his misinterpretations, he can only blame himself.


The origin of this dilemma can be traced back to the Garden of Eden. Adam simply asked Eve: "Honey, can we make love tonight?" Eve responded with: "Maybe." On that specific occasion, her "maybe" turned out to be "yes." The following day, Adam asked her if she wanted pancakes for breakfast, to which she replied, "Yes," although she changed her mind and opted for an apple instead. When asked if she wanted to go for a walk around the garden, she first replied, "No," but then unconvincingly said, "Maybe."


Growing up, I often observed my mother and two sisters, Gianna and Sara, constantly change a yes to a no and vice versa. I understood that if I wanted to be happy in this world, I had no choice other than to educate myself on this operating system.

In the beginning, I resolved to ask my father for guidance, but he was fully focused on translating my mother's yes and no and was reticent in responding to my inquiries. So, I turned to my eldest brother, Filippo. He sat me down and said: "Listen to them carefully but pay special attention to the tone. The tone is even more important than the words. Watch for clues when they say "yes" because they may mean "no" or the other way around." However, my brother failed to mention the intricate "maybe, "as he was unaware of its existence. He learnt about it only after he got married.


In an effort to understand the puzzling woman's system #2, I asked the local priest for some words of wisdom after my confession. I figured; he could help since he has a deeply knowledgeable friend on speed dial who could answer any question in the world. He encouraged me on my quest: "Son, a woman's psyche is like a labyrinth. You may think you're close to the exit, but alas, you realize you're trapped even deeper into the most intricate and disorienting maze. It's an almost impossible task, yet you mustn't surrender." Hmm, even the priest didn't have the answers, but how could I be surprised? He must have become a priest to avoid the grievance of it all.


I decided to go straight to the source and ask my mom why she responded "yes" when she meant "no," and vice versa. She looked at me, perplexed, and said, "Samuele, what do you mean?" Years later, I learned that at that moment, my mom's operating system #1 had taken over, the system more commonly known as C.A.E. or Constant Analyzing of Everything.


By my late teens, I had made little progress. My curiosity for the other sex resembled Ulysses' decision to go towards the Sirenes's mesmerizing voices. It's a pity that their sweet songs lured sailors to their deaths. Aware of the Sirens' power, Ulysses requested to be tied to the ship's mast. My destiny seemed even more subversive than Ulysses', as I had no leverage to restrain my hormones. I was aware of the dangers and inevitability of the rough voyage to happiness. Sirens became the focus of my life. I pumped iron at the gym to impress the ladies and went to school so that I could get a good job to buy a diamond ring and vacation to Polynesia for my eventual beloved.


When I met a woman I wanted to pursue, I listened to what she had to say. Listening was the first step that propelled me into the second stage: to ask her out. "We could meet for coffee?" I would get yeses and nos. Then one day, I heard a new response: "Maybe," to which I squinted my eyes and asked, "What do you mean 'maybe'?" Eventually, I learned that "maybe" could mean various things: maybe, maybe yes, maybe yes then no, maybe no, and maybe no then yes. The more time passed, the more I understood how little I understood.

At my brother Leonardo's wedding, my dad finally shared some thoughts on this topic: "A woman is like a Rubik's cube: every time you figure out one side, the rest of the cube gets reshuffled, and you must start over. Don't give up, son. It's worth the effort."

My father's encouragement fueled my hopes. I studied and studied and studied. It was an endless odyssey. By the time I met Viktoria, I was in my forties. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the "yes, no, maybe" response system at this point in my life. I was confident that I could understand this Slovakian beauty. She possessed more logic than any woman I had met before; therefore, I believed that understanding her operating system #2 would only be a formality so that I could move on to mastering some of her other operating systems. After forty years, I thought I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.


I couldn't have been more wrong. When we went shopping in Costco, a simple question like, "Honey, should we buy these frozen peaches?", triggered multiple responses. The first response was a firm, "No." But after dating her for five years, I knew I had to follow up with one more question. "Are you sure, honey?" A few seconds later, Viktoria replied with a new set of answers: "Hmm, maybe. Ok, yes, let's get them." And just like that, my one simple question prompted all three possible responses within twenty seconds. Lord, help us, I said to myself. When in doubt, pray to the Lord. At times, it is men's only option.


Last week, I watched a video on CNN's Breaking News section. It covered a cutting-edge theory of possible causes of confusion regarding the "yes, no, maybe" response system. CNN interviewed some of the most prominent psychologists of our time, who stated that a woman's D.N.A. might contain an "indecisiveness gene" or potentially a bewildered "I changed my mind" gene, the latter being the most probable. Nobody knows for sure.

Women are aware of men's struggle in understanding them. Perhaps because half of the time, women have no idea what they want. Women must laugh at men's attempts at writing books about the solution to their problems with women, bridging the planets of Venus and Mars. If a book must be read by men, it should at least be written by the interested party, that is, a woman.


How could a man, a creature with a few operating systems in his brain, explain more advanced systems such as those running at high speeds in a woman's brain? It's like explaining E=MC² to a banana. Man's basic needs are as simple as the A.B.C.s: making love to her comprises man's operating system #1 (which covers 50% of his brain functionality), and operating system #2 is connected to his stomach and his desire that she cooks for him. Perhaps such a disparity in brain functionality in men is the true reason for so much misunderstanding between the sexes.

But back to Viktoria and me. Each day I try my best to translate Viktoria's "yes, no, maybe." Who knows? One day, I might be able to understand even more complex systems such as #3, also known as "Hot and Cold." Most men are familiar with the problems related to the temperature setting of a woman's body. One minute she's hot, the next she's freezing. It could be that a man's physical temperature is set in Fahrenheit, and hers is in Kelvin? Again, there are no clear answers on operating system #3 either.

Tomorrow is a new day. I'm aware of my limits and will continue to do my best in navigating the intricate world of operating systems in a relationship. Inevitably, I will sometimes fail to understand the mechanism behind a woman's reasoning. Did she mean yes, no, or maybe? What I do know is that she loves me for who I am, for making her laugh, for taking our love seriously and everything else less seriously. "Yes, I love you," she tells me without hesitation, and I respond, "yes, I do too." Suddenly, I am no longer confused, as love becomes the answer to all operating systems from #1 to infinity.


~ Written by: Viktoria Rusnakova & Samuele Bagnai, authors of Enthusiastic All the Way & Tuscan Who Sold His Fiat to the Pope, respectively.

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