A Man's Man
Local Author Tells All in Titillating Tidbits
He’s just an ordinary Joe with a quirky last name—Joe Quirk, Alameda resident, man about town, armchair scientist, former frustrated dater, now contented husband. And it’s all due to evolutionary biology.
According to Quirk, whose very signature shows this, it all comes down to the sperm and the egg (he makes the Q into an egg with a single spermatozoon breaking through).
Quoth he, “Evolutionary biology changed my love life. It changed me from a loser in love to someone who was very successful with women to a joyously married, committed man.” And he means it. “Believe it or not, it’s all because of science.”
Over the past few years, Quirk, who already published a successful novel (The Ultimate Rush), has been hard at work on a book called Sperm Are from Men, Eggs Are from Women: The Real Reason Men and Women Are Different. It was published in mid-2006 by Running Press (272 pps., $19.95). He’s no scientist, but an avid reader with an insatiable curiosity. After reading two books by author Robert Wright—Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, as well as The Moral Animal–Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (which Quirk calls “sublime”)—Quirk wanted more.
He soon found himself going down a path that he couldn’t resist: searching out obscure scientific studies and articles in research journals to find the answers to questions that had plagued him for years. Everyone knows, with little to no special training, that men and women are different. Quirk wanted to know why. And while he was looking up that answer, he also wondered what women want. “Why are women coy and men clueless?” he ponders. Why are we so horny? Why are we fat in certain places? What does promiscuity tell us about natural selection? And why, among many other great mysteries, do men have nipples, anyway?
What began as a simple quest for personal answers became the germ of an idea for a column for Salon.com, and then a book. “I became kind of possessed that the science of relationships has to get out of the science aisle [in the bookstore] and into the relationship aisle,” he says. It wasn’t such a stretch to write the book; Quirk was an English major who also studied law for one year (“I only lost a third of my soul,” he quips.) But he was still a party boy at heart when he started. “I’d read all night and then go slamdancing,” he says.
In the book, Quirk adopts a smart-aleck persona that emphasizes his somewhat puerile—or utterly biological—tendency to be obsessed with sex. His style is playful, conversational, informative, both charming and alarming, self-deprecating as well as boastful. He becomes the ultimate horny primate, seeking the best way to spread his seed both near and far. That belies the truth of who he is. When he began writing, Quirk says, “I was brokenhearted and broke, a loser in his 30s living in a group house, washed up on the shores of love, not understanding his own feelings.”
He uses a somewhat titillating style to grab the reader throughout, using chapter headings such as “Bodies and Resumes: What Makes Us Horny,” “You Don’t Have an Orgasm, An Orgasm Has You,” “Broad Hips, Big Butts, Broad Shoulders, Big Diction” and, of course, “Boobies.” (The latter is, of course, about how the blue-footed booby builds a certain kind of nest to attract a mate. What did you think it was about?)
Quirk, ever the provocateur, quests his way through the animal kingdom, through the evolution of the species, showing us what nature wanted us to have to survive and what we chose ourselves because we like those things in our mates. Hint: If you like the curves and bumps of your mate’s anatomy, it’s because all our ancestors, back to the Pleistocene era, liked them, too. What we admire endures genetically.
Becoming almost a character in his own book, Quirk shows off the masculine side of the equation and then counterbalances with his softer side: “This is literally the story of how human nature came to be,” he says. “If you understand where and how it came from, it enriches your relationships with all people, not just sexual relationships. Through the lens of this [new knowledge], I understand myself.”
And clearly what he learned works for him. His girlfriend became his wife over the course of the writing of this book. “She is the culmination of my research,” he says proudly. “She used it during our courtship to get me to commit: ‘Like you said in chapter nine, I should be coy to get you to commit.’ Damn!”
Alas, dear readers, what he doesn’t give is the “how to”—we’ll have to go back to Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus for that particular advice. But wait for Quirk’s next book, featuring more of his earthy witticisms, and focused on the human brain, tentatively titled: Tools Are for Men, Talk is for Women: Why the Other Sex’s Brain Is Weird. For more info on Joe Quirk (and sample chapters from his book),
—By Julia Park