I was driving my 16 year-old son to school yesterday morning. It was the normal non-conversational drive, complete with earbuds stuffed in his ears. To try and start conversation, I asked him what he was thinking about. He replied, ‘Nothing’. We bumped along for another 15 seconds before he burst into further explanation.
Apparently, or at least as perceived by him and his cronies, ‘nothing’ really means ‘nothing’, assuming you are a boy. Girls, he said, have thought processes that are kind of like a spaghetti ball. It is an endless, twisted string of consciousness that has very few beginnings and very few ends. Every thought starts, and leads into the next thought, and so on, and so on. There isn’t really any starting, and very little stopping. Interesting.
He continued in a very academic fashion saying that conversely, boys have a very different thought process. Theirs is much more like a waffle, where each thought is nicely squared off and has distinct boundaries. Thoughts are isolated from others around them, and some of the squares of the waffle are simply empty. Those are the squares that a boy is focused on when they say they are thinking about nothing. They truly are thinking about nothing, or more accurately, an empty waffle square. I can’t help but think they are really thinking about the syrup that should be filling the empty square, but I digress.
We drove on in silence for a few moments until I finally uttered a thoughtful “Hummmmm”. He looked over and asked “What are you thinking?” Of course, the only appropriate answer was, “Nothing.”