for release Friday October 22, 2004
by Melodie Davis
What Men Know/What Women Know
I did a really dumb thing driving the other day. Yeah, I know, “dumb women drivers!” This happened at a shopping center exit I’ve used countless times before, although it has only been open one year, so I should have known better. I didn’t notice that the road exiting the shopping center had only two lanes: an incoming and an outgoing. I started to exit using the left, incoming traffic lane. Until another woman driver proceeded to drive into that lane from the highway, looking at me like I was, well, in the wrong place.
Which I was. I proceeded to back up and get in the right lane, put a woebegone expression on my face, and raised my hands to say, “I’m really sorry, I know I was wrong.” She just shrugged and semi-laughed as she went by.
I thought, why can’t men be like that? Somehow most women drivers live out this paraphrase of the “Lord’s Prayer” better than men: “Forgive me my driving mistakes and I will forgive yours.” I knew that she shrugged and smiled because she had probably done something similarly dumb.
Now I know that dumb acts are what make accidents and accidents are no laughing matter. Thank goodness no one was hurt. But when dumb mistakes only create inconvenience, why can’t men just let it roll off their backs? Someone cuts them off on the freeway and they take it as a personal insult when really, it is just stupidity or even an oversight. No offense intended. To quote comedian Jeff Foxworthy, “Men take ‘Merge’ as a personal challenge.” Intuitively, women seem to know that cautious and forgiving makes for fewer heart attacks and strokes while driving.
I would rather ride with a laid back, forgiving, go-with-the-flow driver than a vein-popping, aggressive, cursing driver any day. No matter what gender. And I know driving habits go both ways, and it may depend on where you live. On a visit to the home of her college roommate, my daughter marveled at her shy, low-key but city-raised roommate who turned into an aggressive, in-your-face driver once she hit the city’s outer perimeter.
This season also makes me think of another key difference between many men and women, and that is the very manly sport of football. (The few high school female players not withstanding--more power to ‘em).
My oldest daughter, who grew up giddily amused whenever her father would break into a “Go, go, go, go touchdown!” (with increasing volume) as he watched his favorite football on Sunday afternoons, is now more of a diehard fan than her old man himself. She knows the stats forward and backward. She knows the players, their positions, whether they are hurt or not and whether they got hurt last year. She knows this about a lot of their opponents, too. She has her name on a waiting list for season tickets and by the time her name comes up in 10 or 20 years (seriously) she may actually be able to afford them. I’m just left kind of shaking my head and saying, “What happened to my daughter?”
During the years our daughters were in high school, I learned enough about football to really enjoy it now (even though we went mainly for the marching band our daughters were all in). But I enjoyed the game, too. Anyone who has sat around me will attest to that with ringing ears (and hearing aids turned off). Then of course there was college football on Saturdays, mostly on TV, but while our middle daughter has been in college we’ve had season tickets to her university’s home football games (again, really to see her perform in the band).
I’ve learned to enjoy not only the poetry of athletic guys in motion, the camaraderie of the people in the stands, and the thrill of upending your perennial rivals. But at the same time I’ve come to admire the complexity of knowledge football requires as executed at a professional level, and what many men know about all that. I don’t know very much at all about plays, positions, or even all the ref signals, but I finally understand that it’s about much more than just a bunch of guys running, hitting and flopping on each other (as I used to think.) But somebody please tell me why grown men endure their own teammates hitting them upside the helmet in affection? I get headaches just watching that.
Even though men and women are different and stereotypes are changing, we can celebrate the differences even while trying to learn about and understand each other. Unlike some men, my husband doesn’t mind stopping to ask directions. He doesn’t cook much but he loves to shop. He taught my daughters how to change oil and tires in the car. They don’t know how to chop chives, but by cracky, they know which weight of oil to use. God said the differences between men and women are good. Let’s celebrate that!
What do you think? Send your stories to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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