Friday, December 9, 2011


     Talents, personal strengths, and stereotypes aside, there is plenty of fodder for the war between the sexes.  You can argue nature versus nurture all day long, but it is undeniable that there are fundamental differences between men and women.  Differences so deep, so universal, so vast they can only be explained by DNA.  Don’t believe me?  Still hanging on to your obsessive convictions that differences are taught?  Ask my parents for directions. 

      Go on.  I double dog dare you.

      My mother gives excellent directions and I follow her perfectly.  I asked her how to get to the new pottery she had told me about.  “Oh it’s easy,” she said.  “Take the north-bound interstate to Exit 300, which will put you on Jimmy Boulevard.  Go through 4 traffic lights and turn left at Eddie’s Bait and Tackle.  It’s less than a quarter-mile on the right.  You can’t miss it.”  Clear.  Concise.  Landmarks.  I totally get it and I will find it with no problems.

      The Yankee is confused.

      “Jimmy Boulevard.  If memory serves me, I think that’s actually Route 4912 which curves around and becomes Route 4812B.  Now, do we follow it east or west?”  He closes his eyes and turns his body 40 degrees to the right.  “OK, here is True North,” he says, pointing in front of him,” so would we follow Route 4912 east or west?”  Mom sits, motionless.  “That depends,” she answers.  “Which way did you come off the interstate?  If you come from our house and get off on Exit 300, it’s one way so you don’t have a choice.”  As he furrows his brow, Dad steps in. 

      I click my heels together in a furious tattoo: “There’s no place like home there’s no place like home there’s no place like home.”  It doesn’t work.  I’m forced to endure this. 

      “It’s easy,” he says with confidence.  “Travel on the north-bound interstate, driving south in the west lane.  When you get off on Exit 300, travel east to the southwest, which is Route 2960 North.  Drive 2 miles south, due east until you get to the intersection of Route 2991 and Old Route 2995J.  Turn east in the south-bound lane and travel north until you see the overpass to New Route 2995J.  The pottery is due south.  You can’t miss it.”  Mom and I stare at each other.  “What the bloody CRAP did all that mean?!” I shrieked.  “And how am I supposed to tell which way is ‘due south’ anyway?”  Dad and The Yankee elbow each other and laugh.  “Use the sun!  It’s worked for thousands of years!”  I was not impressed.  “You both think you’re so brilliant, but I am going at night.”  They laugh all over again and break into a rendition of how simple it is to find “true north” by using a discarded napkin and a gum wrapper like MacGyver would have done.  I look at Mom and we start speaking to each other in sign language, which irritates Dad and The Yankee because they have no idea if we are planning dinner or calling them a monkey butt. 

      To be honest, north, south, east, and west don’t help me at all.  I’m OK with the legend on an atlas, but N,S,E,W does me no good in the middle of downtown.  The way I see it, north is above us, south is below us, and west is on the left.  Mom totally gets it.  Dad and The Yankee, on the other hand, still talk to each other like Boy Scouts of a bygone era.  Like Lewis and Clark out in the middle of nowhere.  Like, well … men.

      I still have no clue what they are talking about.  Not a clue.  Does that mean their way of getting around is wrong?  No.  Is it insanely different to the point they could safely discuss the hidden location of a body in front of me?  Absolutely.  By the same token, however, my way is not wrong either.  I think this is where many needless fights are started. Do I find the concept of travelling east in the south-bound lane on Old Route 2995J dumb and irritating?  Totally.  But this is how Dad and The Yankee find their bearings in the world.  This is what makes sense to them and they are entitled to feel that way without ridicule … just as I am more comfortable with left, right, and landmarks and deserve to be left alone. 

      I’m not saying directions qualify as the crux of all male/female differences, but they certainly do prove a valid point: you keep doing what you do best, I’ll keep doing what I do best, and we’ll meet in the middle once in a while for dinner and dancing. 

      For me, middle is a left turn at the living room.  For The Yankee, it’s north in the east-bound lane, due south.  

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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