Skirts v. Skins

(Men are from Mars. That’s what can happen when you won’t ask for directions.)

As an adult (sic), one discovery I keep making, over and over, is that most of what they taught us as kids in school is bunk. Reams of facts with a Real World Reusability Factor of zero. I don’t know about you, but in my social circles, the per capita income of pre-industrial Europe almost never comes up.

Not once in all my years have I ever been asked, “What, again, is the Latin third person plural form of the verb ‘to love’?” I’ve never had to face a social pre-qualification that began with, “Okay, I’ll go out with you, but only after you discuss, in 250 words or less, the broad use of irony in the short stories of O. Henry. Include examples.”

For over half a century now, I’ve been avoiding responsibility, and salads, and I have yet to get myself out of a fix by knowing the value of pi.

(True, I did say ‘hypotenuse’ once, but I meant something else.)

Public education should prepare us for life, not just tests; school should arm us with knowledge, not just information. Take, for instance, the timeless, burning question:

Why do guys act like that?

Our public education curriculum never prepares us for guys; specifically, American guys, who differ in many ways from guys in non-NASCAR countries. For example, in the culture of the graceful African Maasai, women all do the hard labor — including, well, labor — not to mention building their homes, cooking, cleaning, and driving off George Clooney.

So let’s talk about guys. Take a moment to focus, and then have a go at our “What Would A Guy Do?” quiz.

And if your score’s lousy, don’t blame us. Blame public education.


Scenario: There are two grocers near your neighborhood. How does a guy choose between the two?
A)     High quality
B)      Low prices
C)      An aesthetically pleasing space designed to promote a leisurely inspection of fresh produce
D)     Distance from the parking lot to the beer

Scenario: What should a movie include to ensure that a guy will love it?
A)     Cars
B)      Women in cars
C)      Women in cars, with weapons
D)     Nearly-clothed, heavily armed, space alien gladiator women with massive, uh, glandular disorders

Scenario: What production element guarantees that a guy will hate a movie?
A)     Subtitles
B)      Subplots
C)      Animated forest animals, unless they’re heavily armed
D)     Hugh Grant

Scenario: At the grocer’s, there are forty-eight check-out lanes, of which three are actually open. All three are busy, to varying degrees. How does a guy calculate which lane he should use?
A)     The one with the least customers
B)      The one with the least overflowing carts
C)      The one with the most magazines discussing drastic diets, ditzy Kardashians, and Hugh Grant
D)     The one with the check-out clerk named Amber

Scenario: As advertisers have discovered, what does a guy consider to be a new car’s most important selling point?
A)     Great miles per gallon
B)      Great safety ratings
C)      Free pizza with any test drive
D)     The car co-starred in a TV commercial, where it got hand-washed by a cheeseburger-eating blonde

Scenario: When shopping for a television, what technical feature is most important to a guy?
A)     A crisp, bright picture
B)      A long-lasting display
C)      A remote control where, roughly, the number of buttons = pi
D)     A screen the size of your average pre-industrial European nation

Scenario: To save a little time, a guy with just a few items in his basket decides to use the grocer’s self-check-out. Of course, there’s one item that won’t scan correctly, because it was never meant to scan correctly, because the psychos who designed the whole self-check-out process are evil mutant space alien bridge trolls who hate Earth civilization and never trim their nose hair.

That was not part of the quiz – I just needed to get that off my chest.

Scenario: When it comes to job interviews, what is a guy’s greatest fear?
A)     An unattractive salary
B)      An unattractive benefits package
C)      An unattractive but flirty boss
D)     An unattractive but flirty boss who’s a guy

Scenario: When it comes to eating out alone, what is a guy’s greatest fear?
A)     The big-screen TVs might all be tuned to professional league bowling
B)      Those pitying sidelong stares from other restaurant patrons
C)      The dreaded self-Heimlich
D)     That fight-or-flight moment at the salad bar when he contemplates just exactly why they call it a “sneeze guard”

Scenario: When it comes to eating out with a group of people, what is a guy’s greatest fear?
A)     Being asked to pronounce any entrée that has diacritical marks or words ending in ‘eaux’ or ‘que’
B)      Being asked to calculate the tip without consulting a computer
C)      Being seated next to any guy involved in professional league bowling
D)     Being seated next to any woman who subscribes to the pre-industrial European school of au naturel underarm self-expression

Scenario: According to the Creation story in the book of Genesis, God took a rib from Adam, the first guy. What happened to the rib?
A)     It became Eve, Adam’s helpmeet
B)      It became Eve, whom Adam called the ‘apple of my eye,’ although that little term of endearment soured quickly
C)      It became the first body part to be represented by celebrity divorce attorney Gloria Allred
D)     No one really knows, but ever since then, guys have had this thing about barbecue


By the way:  Initially, I didn’t intend to just discuss guys. Initially, my topic was some of the major differences between males and females, but nobody I asked could agree on the female equivalent of the word ‘guy.’

To me, both ‘girl’ and ‘gal’ carry potential connotations that won’t work. ‘Ladies’ is corny, as is ‘the other half.’ ‘Distaff’ is pretentious; besides, half the people on Facebook would think I was talking about a stick. ‘Sista’ would work, unless the discussion ever included my mother — that sort of thing could send a guy spiraling into therapy.

One can’t say ‘babe,’ one can’t say ‘chick’ and, though it worked well once upon a time, one can no longer say ‘dolls.’

And don’t even ask Rush Limbaugh what one can’t say.


  1. Funny stuff Barry! Here’s an actual story from this week:
    I’m munching on peanuts from a gallon-sized can of peanuts from the warehouse store and he says, “Don’t forget to tell me if we’re running low, so I can pick up another can.”
    “Sure babe,” I laughed and then asked, “How come you never ask if we’re running low on Boston-Bibb or Arugula?”
    (Deer in head-lights look–acting like he has no idea what I’m talking about.)
    “That’s okay dear,” I said, “you’re all boy and I like it.”

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