Simplifying a complex issue - The Explorer: Columns

Simplifying a complex issue

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Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 3:00 am

In case you hadn’t been paying attention, men and women are becoming more dissimilar every day and this isn’t particularly good news for the guys. We’ve been confused since as far back as we can remember and here are some recent encounters with this ongoing gender phenomenon.

Naming our friends

Men tend to assign pet names to their friends. For example, I have a friend who’s an avid motorcycle rider known as “Harley,” another flew helicopters and was tagged “Cobra,” one buddy is called “Geekster” implying competency with computers and technology.

Women rarely refer to their friends in such terms and often become more formal with age. Many women now require the name we knew them by from high school, but also tack on their married name as well. Consider Harriett Anderson Norschick or Barbara Campbell Andrews. Traditionally, men become less complicated with age; women customarily go in the opposite direction leaving us more confused.  

The restaurant

An Olympic event among male friends; guys either reach for the check when the bill arrives or throw a wad of cash on the table assuming someone will take the initiative to sort things out. Not so informal when the gals gather for lunch. Cash won’t appear until after the pocket calculators emerge. Not a one of them will reach for the check; they glance at it from across the table to determine their share. Most often, someone asks the server for separate checks.

Financial matters

Men will pay a predetermined amount for something they need, buy two just in case, and leave the store. Women prefer items on sale regardless of the price.

His and hers bathrooms

A trend in retiree households is the “his and hers” bathroom arrangement. This is actually a functional method; my wife and I have employed it for several years without incident. Men generally have less stuff than women when excluding necessary prescription medications and reading material; women have more eyebrow and lip liner pencils than the total number of pencils I used in grade school for penmanship. I don’t know the actual number of items in my wife’s bathroom, but she keeps everything neatly arranged and I haven’t the slightest clue what most of them are used for.

Dissenting opinions

Women get the last word in every argument regardless of the topic or circumstances triggering it. Anything men say after she assumes it’s over results in the commencement of a new, more heated disagreement.

Pets

Women love pets, even more than men prefer television sports and war movies. Men say they like pets, and we do, but women often get stuck taking care of the household pets. We’ll walk a dog if the timing is convenient, we may even feed it on occasion and fill its water bowl, but left entirely to our initiative many pets would run away from home if it weren’t for women.

Looking ahead

Men don’t contemplate the future after retirement because they know the final outcome is on the table. We never seriously consider “the end” during our working lives because we’re too busy doing and being something to pause and ponder this reality. Women begin contemplating the future the moment they utter the words “I do.”

Achievement after retirement

Most men don’t accomplish much after retiring unless money becomes an issue. They assume as long as the utility bills are paid, groceries are in the fridge, the cable connection is intact and the little lady is smiling then life is good. Women hound men to get out of the recliner and go do something. We did, that’s the reason we’re living in Leisureville.

Anniversaries

Women anticipate life improvements with each passing year of retirement, which for some unknown reason they mentally equate to aging of a fine wine. It rarely happens and they’re miffed—at us. Men celebrate anniversaries with the anticipation that at some point their wives will stop evolving and become acceptably predictable—not likely.

Formal wear

My wife gets dressed up to get the mail, go to the grocery store, walk around the block, water the plants; her morning mission is having a cup of coffee and determining her wardrobes throughout the day.  A man puts on “good” clothes for special occasions such as New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, her birthday dinner, an anniversary celebration and funerals. Other than these occasions, daddy-trou (boxer shorts) and T-shirts we sleep in are day-wear unless we venture into the real world. Men can’t have too many T-shirts.

A parting consideration

Married retired males should forget trying to understand women; it’s not happening--ever. I’ve asked married guys who’ve been at it from 10-50+ years and always got the same response, “Let it go. Realizing that genders are wired differently will improve your life overnight.”

As a veteran of more than three decades of marriage and approaching two decades of retirement togetherness, I accept that some things aren’t understandable and may have been designed that way intentionally. I’m learning to stay out of her way and ask fewer questions. Maybe there is something to that retirement survival concept I recently read about called “flow.”

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