Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hopeful Pessimism update

Hopeful Pessimism: Just once I'd like to see a headline...

Ok, you must go to Jonathan's blog and read the article about the British man who redecorated his entire condo to look like the bridge of the Voyager and then went bankrupt.

But I also made a comment and it reminded me of a true story.

I was in a training class once, as a student, when the instructor was trying to make some kind of point, possibly about many options that looked very similar to one another. He coiuld see that no one understood what the hell he was saying, and so he pointed to me and asked,
"Meredith, how many pairs of black shoes do you own?"
I am supposing that he wanted a number, and I was prepared to give him one, but first I had a qualifying question.
"Winter or summer?"
And of course, that made sense to all the women in the room, but being that this was Sprint, where all the men had only 4 pairs of khakis and 2 pairs of shoes - 1 pair of sneakers, and 1 pair of rubber-soled brown things - they didn't get it. Especially not the instructor, and he clearly thought I was being a wiseass. [The actual number isn't the point, really, and I don't remember how many pairs of shoes I have anyway. Just like I don't remember how old I am or how much I weigh. The answer to all those things is, enough.]

This goes to the classic legal adage: never ask a question of a witness if you don't know what they're going to answer.

Let this be a lesson to all of you on Valentine's Day.

1 comment:

Insidious Mr. Huge said...

Heh. This reminds me of an anecdote I read a while back. Margaret Mead was contracted by the US government during WW II to figure out why, if we spoke the same language and had such a common heritage, US soldiers simply didn't get along well with British soldiers. There was a disconnect that was hampering clear communication and interaction. After some study, Mead summed up the differences with a brief statement (paraphrased): "Ask an American soldier what his favorite color is and he'll give you an answer automatically. Ask a Brit and he'll then ask you, "Favorite color for what?"

I think that's what you're describing here. However, knowing you as much as I do, which to say, is not much, I believe I can still make a judgement call and say you were being a bit of a wiseass.

That said though, you've just provided a stunning example of cultural differences, specifically in this case, not American/British, but male/female.

I often joke with my fiance about the number of pairs of black shoes she has (especially after she acquires a new pair of, ta da! black shoes). I believe that it's a question of programming. Women are programmed (by other women) to believe that they NEED all these pairs of shoes. Not in a utiliitarian sense, but in a fashion sense. (This one goes with this dress, this one goes with the dress but is more casual, this one I can wear with slacks, but not jeans, this one I can wear to work but is too dressy to wear to your office party, this one is formal but I can't were them in winter because they're too cold--which is technically not simply fashion but you get the drift.)

Men, on the other hand, are programmed to view shoes from a utilitarian point of view (function v. fashion). They ONLY need 'X' pairs of shoes to support their tasks. (These are my work shoes with brown clothes, these are my work shoes with black clothes, these are my exercise sneakers, these are my rubber-soled brown things for casual events, these are the boots I wear when I shovel snow/work in the yard/do other manly things.)

Actually, one could make the argument that whereas men/women are programmed a certain way (by other men/women) they are NOT programmed at all. I.e. men are NOT programmed to think in terms of fashion. But that's kind of moot anyway since the end result is the same.

Why are we programmed this way? Beats the heck out of me, but it happens. I might posit that women do it because they know that other women, their main social group, take it seriously. Conversely, men don't do it because other men don't take it seriously.

Really, when was the last time a (straight) guy told you that your shoes were great and that they complimented your outfit perfectly? ("What do I think of your shoes? (flop sweat appears on upper lip, sound of gears turning in brain, eyes trying not to look down for the first time) Oh yeah, they're nice. I notice they're...black?") We're too busy looking at you from the waist up to notice anything that far down. Maybe not THAT far up. We might miss the tiara or the fact that you had your hair specially down. There's a definite "zone" we're dealing with here. There are breasts involved.

There are, in fact, only two instances when a man will actually notice your shoes: 1. If you're wearing moon boots 2. If you are barefoot.

In either case, it will only be a passing thought since he'll still be staring at your breasts.

Make of that what you will.