Just beneath the surface of normal

The Inter-Gender Understanding Award


1. There should be an award for this. Even a Nobel Prize category would do.

2. It should be mine. Here’s why:

Wait – first let me explain: I hate to get dressed by myself. Almost every morning I come out of the bedroom with some version of “this cardigan……or this one?” and Jim explains his preference along with a surprisingly thoughtful analysis and only rare criticism regarding the sheer quantity of cardigans in my closet. Getting dressed without feedback was one of the more heinous aspects of his former job, which sent him on the road every other week (though I have to admit, the stillness of the bedclothes didn’t suck).

Back in the earlier stages of our relationship, he would come back with the usual “both are fine” or “how the hell am I supposed to know?” just like every guy on every comedy thing that ever portrayed men as clueless, unobservant, and afraid of women’s anger (basically all of them). Not to be deterred from avoiding making my own decisions, In one of my more inspired moments I retorted with, “What do you even mean? Men are pros at looking at girls and deciding whether they look hot. Just look at them both and decide which one makes me look hotter.” Since then he’s come back with amazingly helpful things like, “having that top cut off there visually interrupts the flow, which makes you look shorter and rounder. Do you have a cropped one in a lighter color?” or “yeah, that one really emphasizes your curves.” It’s like having a fashion-conscious girlfriend who also likes to lift heavy, grubby things and have sex with you. I’m pretty sure that alone is the trifecta of marital satisfaction.

I’m not sure I understand what this has to do with marriage, but I’m told it’s a good thing. I would have used a slots reference, but I don’t really understand that either. Also “slots” sounds way more lewd. Not that riding horses doesn’t. I guess the moral here is that when it’s me talking, it’s pretty hard to find a metaphor that isn’t racy. Get it? Racy? Yeah, I went there.

Now, for the ultimate triumph: Every single day I also  ask Jim to help me decide between 2 pair of shoes. This morning he didn’t like either option, so I tried on two more, neither of which satisfied him either. So I trudged back upstairs and pulled out yet another pair, which (because we were running late) were blessedly deemed close enough, “but it would be better if they had a little bit of greenish tinge to them. You should look for some.”

A woman does not see an opportunity like this but once or twice in a lifetime. I seized my moment:

“NOW you see why women have so many shoes.”

A look of wonderment flashed across his face. “I…oh my God, I actually do. Every outfit has a mood and a style and you need a variety for whatever you put together! Not to mention the comfort factor on different days.”

I don't even know what this means.

He also talks about feelings.

I cannot possibly describe the thrill that rushed through me at this revelation. My only regret is that there were no other witnesses to this landmark moment in male-female diplomacy.

Of course, he then went on to sing a verse from the song of his people, a rambling ballad called “I’m So Glad I’m a Guy”. This particular one went something like this:

When I get dressed in the morning, I say, “which shoes should I wear?”
The answer is almost always black.

I can wear them day after day and no one cares.
I just have to make sure that my belt is also black.
Same pants, same shirt – just different colors here and there.
But the shoes never change. I’m so glad I’m a guy.

Although to be fair, it is a far less grating stanza than the one about menstruation.


As part of my acceptance speech I would like to thank you, dear readers, for celebrating the triumph of this historic day with me.

If you need me before the ceremony, I’ll be searching for comfortable brown wedges with a slightly greenish tinge without so much of a trace of guilt.


3 thoughts on “The Inter-Gender Understanding Award

  1. The funny thing is that I often get irritated when people are hanging around while I’m getting dressed. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I have a toddler and thus, almost no privacy so I get it when I can. But congratulations on explaining to someone else why we need so many shoes! But also, how are we going to handle this now that an outsider knows? Are you sure you cleared this with the chairwoman?

    • Anything that reduces the amount of flak given for shoe collecting is automatically given clearance; it’s diplomacy, not treason.
      I look forward to having a shoe store named after me in honor of my efforts.

      Also, I’m really sorry you can’t get dressed alone. It gets better.

      Also-also, FWIW I generally get dressed alone and THEN model options.

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