Kathy Rohloff: The Gender Gap

Columns / Aug. 25, 2005 12:00am EDT

Kathy Rohloff: The Gender Gap

Getting dressed for work is a chore to me. Even if I lay out my clothes the night before, it is no guarantee that will be the outfit that I wear.

The waistband may pinch or the color may wash out my complexion. It may be too warm or too lightweight for the day.

One morning as I changed my blouse for the third time in an effort to match the jacket I planned to wear, my husband said as he knotted his tie, "You are really a kind person."

Peering through the neckline of the most recent blouse I was pulling over my head I said, "How sweet. Why do you say that?"

"Because you care so much for your clothes that you don’t want to hurt any of their feelings, so each morning you try all of them on."

"Funny," I replied. "Real funny."

In the 27 years that we’ve been married, we tend to finish each other’s thoughts. We also answer questions only begun.

"Do you know where...?"

"It’s on the night stand."

"But I’m not sure if...?"

"It’s ok, I fixed it last night."

"Yeah, but did you remember..."

"Yesterday. I called; the appointment’s set for Tuesday."

On a recent road trip to North Carolina, we had several hours to talk. With the children grown, we stop when WE’RE hungry or need to go to the bathroom. How refreshing!

During this particular trip after a lot of conversation there was a long stretch of silence. I asked Russ, "What were you thinking about?"

"Nothing," he replied.

"No, really, what were you thinking?"

"Nothing."

"That can’t be possible. I’m always thinking of something."

"Well, I was thinking of nothing. I do it all the time."

"Really?" I said amazed. "Wow! If that’s true, men and women really are different. I thought that was just something men said."

"No, it’s true."

"I have a great idea, an experiment. Let’s neither of us talk for ten minutes. We’ll listen to the radio, drive, and then after that we’ll say what we thought, ok?"

"Ok, but don’t expect much," he said.

So for ten minutes we drove. In the background a country song was playing, "Pour me something tall and strong ... it’s 5 o’clock somewhere." And later, "we’re in Margaritaville."

"Ok, time," I said. "This is what I thought. I heard that song as we passed a church. I thought about drinking and how come churches say if you drink you’re going to hell? And then I thought how sad that is to judge people. I started feeling sorry for people who have a drinking problem and wondered about my Uncle Roy who drank. He died by drowning. I’d hate to drown. Now I feel thirsty. What did you think about?"

Russ laughed and said, "I was wondering if I’d ever had a margarita."

So this is how men think, or rather, don’t think.

Imagine, I thought, I would have never known that if I’d not asked. I’m glad that song came on the radio then. I don’t think I’ve had a margarita, but I’m pretty sure I made them when I worked at Mr. Steak. Boy, I was young then. I wonder what ever happened to Betty. And I kept on thinking and thinking and thinking.

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