McKeithan Column|News flash — men, women: ‘different’

Published 8:47 am Friday, July 24, 2009

Associate Publisher

Vacation travel tip: leave toiletries at home
It occurs to me that men and women are different. I mean, aside from the since-time-began, up-down toilet seat struggles.
In fact, we differ in so many ways I often wonder how we overcome such obstacles to ever marry and reproduce. We have a pheromone-driven need to “connect” and a lifelong compulsion to figure out why we have the need.
The great philosophers who tell us “opposites attract” also say “birds of a feather flock together.” Are these concepts in conflict? What would YOU call this paradox? (I call it: marriage.)
Here’s my take:
Generally, we prefer to be surrounded by our own kind. Women gather with women at book clubs and men gather with men for coffee at (insert fast-food-restaurant-of-choice here*). I’m not sure what is discussed at these gatherings — having never been invited — but I know that a debate on the best brand of mayonnaise can have women talking for hours.
Men, on the other hand, can stare at an object of mutual interest together (TV, sporting event, fishing rods, the ground) without ever uttering a word. And that’s just fine with us.
The biggest difference between the sexes has nothing to do with sense of direction, driving ability, hormones or the Lifetime channel. We are most differentiated by — here comes today’s word — “cleanliness.”
As noted recently on the U.S. News &World Report Web site: “Having a husband creates an extra seven hours a week of housework for women.” It continues, “A wife saves men from about an hour of housework a week.” These revelations — the result of a study by the University of Michigan — are shocking!
An HOUR a week? Someone out there actually thinks there are husbands who do an hour of housework each week? There is a name for these men, “showoffs.”
What the story doesn’t reveal is how most husbands define housework. I can tell you what it is not. As my beautiful wife often reminds me: “Flushing the toilet does NOT count as ‘housework.’” (Since it doesn’t “count,” I’ve stopped.)
I don’t think men — at least manly-men like me — are lazy. We just have much lower standards. We are perfectly fine with unmade beds, crusty sheets, wrinkled clothes and decomposing “food stuffs.” It’s like camping to us. As long as we have a flat-screen TV as big as a billboard and constant possession of the remote — we’re good.
The need to live in clean environs is not instilled in us. We don’t have an instinctual drive to clean baseboards. What is a baseboard ANYWAY? (Wait, don’t tell me. If you do — I’ll have to clean it.)
Personal hygiene is also an important component of “cleanliness.”
I have been known to go on a weeklong vacation without showering, shaving or brushing my teeth. And this is not on a hunting trip with the guys, mind you. (I refuse to associate with anyone who would trust me with a deadly weapon.)
It is my firm belief that a vacation should be an opportunity to let yourself go. The purpose of getting-away is to leave it ALL behind. This includes deodorant, toothpaste, nose hair clippers, and soap.** Showering is a vestige of your “other life” that needs not ruin your vacation.
If you’re thinking my sanitary indiscretions are inconsiderate to my wife and kids — think again. When my afternoon stink kicks in, I spray my entire body with Febreeze. It doesn’t cover the stench, but I have a hint of “springtime freshness” to uplift my day … and theirs.
Of course, for a nice, romantic dinner out with my beautiful wife, I dress the part. I throw on my favorite ECU baseball cap and my “Kiss Me” tank top.
We have hopes for a beach vacation soon. If you see me, or a Neanderthal that resembles me … be sure not to stand downwind.
*Am told the Bojangles coffee group is the power base of local business and politics. (No wonder I haven’t been invited.)
**Also, leave your new running shoes at home, for cryin’ out loud.
Ray McKeithan is associate publisher of the Washington Daily News. Your negative comments about him or his writing may be sent directly to his e-mail address: