Five Things I learned from Chicks


One of my favorite restaurants is Or2k, a bohemian Israeli place in Kathmandu, Nepal. They serve middle-eastern vegetarian and play Marley, and Dylan, and Cat Stevens. The walls are decorated with blacklight mushrooms and Kokopelli—a sort of eclectic, retro-hippie, groove—très chic. It’s usually full of stoners, and backpackers, and young singles making travel diary entries. You sit on the floor at low tables and lounge back against bright cotton cushions. The food is good and the people-watching, entertaining.

I was camped there one afternoon with my laptop catching up on email when four Australians settled into a spot across from me. While they ordered, they bantered about in that affable Aussie style, three girls and a guy. As they were waiting for their food, one of the girls covered her face with both hands and began to weep. She was magazine-cover gorgeous: rangy frame, raven hair, aquiline nose, olive skin, chocolate eyes. The slender fingers covering her face ended in perfectly manicured natural nails. Her weeping seemed odd, out-of-place. I avoided eye contact and focused on my laptop. It was awkward.

Chicks Have a High EQ

As that elegant Australian wept, her female friend leaned into her and put an arm around her shoulder. She didn’t talk, or reason, she just held her. The third woman rose from her pad on the other side of the low table and nestled on the opposite shoulder, stroking the girl’s hair and dabbing her tears with a Kleenex. The guy sat awkwardly alone. Uneasy, he glanced about the room, fretting with his smart phone, trying to look preoccupied. The three women sat together for a good fifteen minutes, hardly saying a word—a classic EQ moment.

There are two ways to measure a person’s potential, IQ and EQ. IQ, the intellectual quotient, is a standardized measure of raw processing power. EQ, the emotional quotient, is difficult to estimate but it is a more critical life skill. 

“Emotions guide everything we do.” Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence

Emotions are like instruments on a machine. They measure systems. Men tend to ignore the emotional instruments or try to control them. Women tend to read the instruments and use emotional information to manage their lives.

Chicks Notice

I have five granddaughters. They’re all precocious little things: chatty, inquisitive, fashion conscious, and very observant. I was shocked one day when the oldest one, scarcely five years old at the time, told me I’d worn “that same shirt” on my last visit. My last visit had been the month before. I couldn’t remember what shirt I had worn the day before much less the month before. When I take her into the city for ice cream or lunch, she never fails to recognize someone. I seldom recognize anyone in town.

Chicks Nurture

Those young Aussie women made frequent eye contact as they sat together. Their consoling glances said volumes as they scanned one another’s faces and measured one another’s body language. The guy looked like he wanted to disappear.

Chicks Empathize

As the troubled woman quieted, the two consoling women began to weep, their tears discreet and sincere. It was a remarkable transition, as if the two friends were safety valves, releasing pent-up, toxic steam. Their lavish compassion made a public emotional train wreck look like a sailboat gliding on a gentle tide onto a sun-warmed beach.

Chicks Heal

The food arrived and everyone settled. As they sampled one another’s dishes, the three young women moved seamlessly into a somber face-searching conversation. The guy picked aimlessly at his falafel. 

About halfway through the meal a precious little five-year-old British girl literally danced over to their table. As her father paid their bill and her mother watched from a distance, the little Shirley Temple announced herself in a cheery London accented greeting. 

“Hello,” she said. “My name is Catherine. Do you like my new dress?” She spun around, flashing dimples, and curly hair, and rosy charm, her skirt flowing around her in a crayon riot. Everyone in earshot smiled and paused their conversation and watched with warming hearts. The table lit up and the melancholy girls hugged her, and laughed, and complimented her pretty dress.

I don’t know, but I suspect the child had watched the drama from across the room. And in her little female heart she knew exactly what to do.