Men: They See What They Want to See

(Here’s the aisle of “stuff” my husband has collected and placed in a center strip of the garage. In the picture, he adds my younger daughter’s ice skates from the time she was 10. Conspicuously absent from the loot? All his “stuff,” no matter how old or at what stage of disuse…Oh, he did manage to add one item, as you’ll see at the bottom of this post.)

There’ll always be a giant gulf between the sexes, and for most of us, we prefer it that way. It gives us something to remark, and in the company of other women, to laugh ourselves dizzy about.

For instance, my husband likes to call himself “observant,” yet, whenever I ask him to get something out of our small kitchen pantry, he opens the doors, and within ten seconds, he says: “It’s not here,“ or I can’t find it.”

I mean, he doesn’t even appear to seriously look. He’s got that damned defeated look from the git-go.

You see, I know his search will be futile (So, the question should be: “Why do I send him on these missions?“) and I realize how it will end: With me going over and putting my hand on the object–almost immediately.

I’ll stand in frustration at the fact he couldn’t find the item despite the fact it’s sizeable and its label clearly says what it is. By God, there’s usually a picture, too, of the product front and center, on the can.

Then I’ll ask: “Why couldn’t you find this?” as if I don’t already know the answer. It’s a crazy sequence, for we’re both acting exactly as gender-coding would have us act: In finding anything in a kitchen, men have tunnel vision and we eternally ask “Why?”

But put them around cars or under the hood of a car, and they’re in their element. Case in point: As we travel the nation’s highways, my guy sings out when he sees an especially-noteworthy car. These are generally antique varieties, meaning, in America, they’re 30 years of age or older. If they’ve been beautifully-maintained, he warmly sings their praises.

He knows that such-and-such car is a 1956 Chevy Bel Air, while I ask him “How do you know the exact year?” I mean the aqua and cream hard-top convertible doesn’t have the year stamped on its side, in bold black lettering.

It’s then that he tells me that the 1955 model has half-moon parking lights, different from all other years. The 1956 Bel Air has square parking lights and the gasoline access point is housed in the left tail light assembly. The 1957 has fin-like rear fenders. To me, such a differentiation spells “observance,” the exact trait he appears to lack in household searches for our common, everyday needs.

It’s just not these models he knows, either. His bank of knowledge includes the oh-so-interesting fact that Detroit built no new cars between the years 1942-45 (a great Jeopardy question), for all metal was being utilized for the World War II effort (bullets, weapons, tanks, etc.)

That means we’ll never see a 1943 Chevy Bel Air on the highway: They just don’t exist. But until I met him, I never knew this fact.

It’s the same with tools. I can’t even remember what the various items are called (and I find this annoying), but he collects them all, refusing to give any up, lest he have need at some future time to put into use that jigsaw he’s never plugged in… in the two decades we’ve been together.

They’re all over our garage, and if I speak about hoeing out our never-used items, he’ll get mine all packed up and spit-shined ready for a yard sale, while all of his still hang from hooks or the rafters, in various stages of disuse.

He simply can’t part with them; it’s gender suicide, of sorts.

Don’t believe me? Try it. Ask hubby/partner to get all of the items you no longer use piled up and categorized for a run to Salvation Army, Big Sisters…wherever. You’ll find the items conspicuously yours.

Oh, they’re observant all right. They just hope you’re not.

(Here’s his donation-a Turkish copper coffee maker that he’s never used. It made the cut. It’s not a tool, bike, truck, or any of the things he cherishes–whether or not he uses them.)

**And here’s a link to a story that shows why lady’s silk stockings were a rarity (you’ll see soldiers in war movies offering contraband silk stockings and chocolates to women)…I never knew ’til reading this why these were in such short supply, and I never knew too, the ONE ITEM whose restriction brought forth rebellion from women, proving in that day, one never got between a woman and her….??…What was that item?….

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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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