© 2005 Saginaw News
"Think of it in terms of shoes."
The teenager looked at his father with a questioning frown. He had asked about the differences between the sexes. The conversation they were having had progressed past reproduction and emotions -- much to the father's relief -- and was into a matter that was far easier to explain.
"How many shoes do you have?" the father asked.
"A brown pair and a black pair, sneakers for basketball, running shoes and boots for yard work. That makes 10."
"If you are not male, 10 is not enough."
"That doesn't make sense," said the son. "Either you're dressed up, playing sports or working," the son replied. "That determines what shoes you use. ... Isn't that logical?"
"Depends upon whose logic it is," observed the father.
"I need some direction," the son said.
"I'll try, although explaining this is similar to conjugating verbs in a language we can't speak. Ah, how many wallets do you have. And what color?"
"One. I think it's black."
"Does it match your shoes?"
"Why should it?" replied the son.
"You're a guy and this never would cross your mind. This illustrates the sex gap, if you know what I mean."
"Well, women keep their stuff in purses, not wallets. Right?" said the father.
"Yeah, but ... what does that have to do with shoes?"
"Follow me," said the father.
The father and son went into the master bedroom closet, which was divided into two parts: His and mostly hers.
"See that?" the father said pointing to an array of colorful purses. "Now look at the shoes."
"I didn't know there were so many shoes in so many colors," said the boy. "Why so many?"
The father waved his hand at the seemingly endless array of dresses, pants, skirts, blouses and frilly garments hanging opposite his tattered T-shirts and unmatched items.
"Green shoes for green dresses. Grays for gray. Pink for pink. Mauve, whatever that is, for mauve. You get the idea? Women wear different stuff every day all the time."
"Come to think of it, I guess they do. Why?" asked the son.
"They must have a hidden rule about never looking alike. My guess is the reason women go to the bathroom in clusters is to negotiate binding agreements about who is going to wear what the next day."
"But, Dad, if they keep changing colors every day, that means they have to change purses and move all the stuff inside around. Isn't that a lot of time-consuming work?"
"No doubt. Last week, when your mom was driving the car, the cell phone rang in her purse. She asked me to answer it. It was like excavating in an Egyptian tomb. I found the phone somewhere between the makeup and the pencils, just past the address book and deep below the discount coupons. It made cleaning out the camper look simple."
"Wow. When you toss in all the time they spend in the bathroom on top of the clothes swapping, it helps explain why they're always late. Doesn't it?" asked the boy.
"Son, we better not go there. Mom gets a wee bit edgy about the time thing."
"I know, Dad. I think I'm beginning to get what you mean about differences."