Monday, January 07, 2013

Day 7: Shoes ... and other male/female conundra

My assigned topic for January Blog-a-Day, Day 7, is "shoes." This was the point at which I realized that this entire exercise was obviously thought up by a woman.

My general impression is that, for most women anyway, shoes are exciting. They are an expression of her style. Imelda Marcos had thousands. Women can apparently carry on a conversation, with no subject other than "shoes."

For guys (well, for me at least), shoes are about utility. The most important thing is that they be comfortable -- and that they allow you to do well what you need to do. If you are hiking in the forest, hunting mushrooms, you need a nice solid pair of hiking boots that will minimize the chances of you turning your ankle severely against a stone or root ... but they shouldn't be too heavy. (I have a nice pair of REI hiking boots that I really like, for this purpose.)

But, if you're in church, as I was yesterday morning, a comfy and minimalist pair of warm slippers should do just fine. Or if it's summer, warm sandals. How they look is secondary to how they perform.

I honestly don't worry about whether or not these shoes "match my outfit." They really don't even have to be the same color.

So, I guess the real topic of this blog (for me) is: What are the fundamental differences between men and women? Our perspective on shoes is just one. And how do we deal with these differences?

And of course I realize I'm at huge risk of coming off sexist here. And I don't believe I am. In the case of shoe perspective, for example, I honestly believe there is no right or wrong, no better or worse way to approach the topic of shoes. I don't look down on women because they like to talk about shoes. I don't understand it, but I respect it.

And (as a married man) there are many such areas in my life where I realize I must simply shrug my shoulders or throw my hands up into the air, and deal with it. Related to shoes is the topic of carpets or floors or floor coverings. To me, the floors in a house are not something I pay a lot of attention to. They are utilitarian -- there to be walked on. If you can't walk on your carpet, you have a problem. But, if you get a couple of inches of leaves or dirt on your carpet, this shouldn't become a problem until it prevents you from walking from one room to another. And when it does, if this annoys you, you pull out the industrial strength vacuum cleaner and suck it all up. Whoosh. And you're done. Once a month should cover it.

This is my approach to my garage. I don't worry about the floor there much, unless there are sharp and dangerous objects I might step on. But pine needles, dust, and leaves? A once-a-month sweep up is more than adequate.

I walk around out in my yard, on the grass. Every few weeks or so during the summer I mow it because it gets long. Mowing sucks up pine needles. Between mows the grass accumulates lots of pine needles and bits of moss. Do I fret about this? No, I expect it. I walk on these. When the grass gets too long, I mow it, then forget about it.

For some time I would walk into my house (from the outdoors), having wiped my feet quite well at the mat (or so I thought), and my wife would explode. "Can't you see that you're tracking pine needles and dirt onto the carpet?" she would exclaim.

"No problem," I would assure her. "I will happily vacuum these up. I have an open spot on my calendar on the 24th of this month to do just that."

"The 24th? That's in TWO WEEKS. And I just vacuumed today! Just like I vacuumed yesterday! And now I have to vacuum AGAIN today to get the pine needles up!"

I don't understand, and tell her so. "Why? They'll still be there in two weeks. They aren't going anywhere. And tomorrow, and the day after that, there will be more. In two weeks we will have a nice satisfying vacuum experience and suck up two week's worth of stuff. Same amount of time you are now spending EVERY DAY to suck up one or two barely visible pine needles."

That apparently doesn't make sense to my wife, for a reason I can't comprehend. We go on and on. But, ultimately, under threat of expulsion from my house, I agree to take my shoes off before I come in the door.

Now I need different shoes. If I'm coming in and out every five minutes, and spending five minutes delacing or lacing up my boots -- suddenly this isn't good. NOW I need new shoes ... maybe slip-ons. But slip-ons aren't ideal for outdoor work, they slip off too easily. So now I have a conundrum. My life is reeling off-kilter. Planets threaten to collide.

(By the way, I like the way my new Subaru deals with this problem: Rubber mats. Pine needles are hard to get out of carpets. With rubber mats, you just remove them, spray them with a hose, and put them back. Wa-la, no more pine needles. I wish I could get rubber mats to put down on the floors all throughout our house.)

But soon it's summertime, and now the solution seems simple. It's warm enough, I just go barefoot outdoors, like I did for years before I was married.

But NO! Suddenly the rules are reversed. If my feet are bare outdoors, now I must put on some sort of shoe before I can come indoors! It makes no sense whatsoever to the male mind.

Well, where am I going exactly with this post, you might ask? And I'm honestly not sure. There are serious issues before our nation: fiscal cliffs, and war in the Middle East, and gun violence, drugs, even redefinition of traditional marriage. And here I am worried about shoes.

I guess my point is this: If you have a serious problem, whether it be pine needles on the carpet, or a fiscal cliff, tell it to my wife. She will come up with a solution. It won't make sense to all of us menfolk ... but if we simply shrug and do what she says, all will be well in the end.

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

I so soooo love reading your writing, Larry. Just brilliant... the entire thought pattern. BRILLIANT! Also thought this one was pretty clever :)

Reading it to my husband before bed tonight, definitely!!!

And you're so right... this whole thing was totally made up by women. I was cracking up because your post is such a man contribution -- and a well-stated one at that.

Cheers, friend.