Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Solving Four Mysteries of Manhood

By Kimberly Williams-Paisley

As my husband, country-music artist Brad Paisley, whizzed past the third gas station in a row on a dark Nashville night, trying to find the new restaurant we wanted to try, I became convinced that there really are fundamental differences in the way men and women live their day-to-day lives. Even though I had repeatedly asked Brad to stop and get directions, he refused. Why wouldn't he stop? It makes perfect sense to do so -- it would save time, gasoline and frustration. Then it dawned on me that if I could just figure out the underlying cause of men's most puzzling habits, I could learn how to better understand my strange and wonderful husband.

"It's just up here," Brad said, his eyes searching the road. And then he made another U-turn. Why won't guys ever admit that they don't know where they are -- or where they're going?

This comes down to men always wanting to be in control. They hate to admit when they're not. I also suspect Brad enjoys adventure more than any kind of schedule I may be trying to keep him to, and he doesn't mind just a hint of dark-night danger.

How is a wife to deal? First, learn to appreciate the subtext. I enjoy the boy in Brad who doesn't mind a little exploration, and I love the man who wants to be in charge. But also be practical. I now surreptitiously tuck a map into my bag and sneak peeks at it when Brad's driving trips leave us going in circles. While I don't want to offend his male ego, I do want to end up at our destination sooner rather than later.

Once we finally get to a restaurant and sit down, Brad likes to have free rein of the table. His elbows often invade my elbow space, and he sometimes acts as though there is a competition going on between the food on my plate and the food on his plate (and it has nothing to do with taste). This could also be about men craving competition even when there is no sport involved. Brad often samples what's on my plate before even looking at what's on his. Only after he's made an assessment of my choice does he try his own. Usually, he continues to eat from both our plates during the course of the meal. It's as if he wants to make sure there's nothing he's missing out on. My friend Laura suggests this is because guys are never truly satisfied with what they have. Or perhaps it's a way to get the lay of the land (again, without a map). This is a different kind of control.

When my husband first started stealing my food, I tried to eat faster so I could get my fill before he'd finished a good portion of it. Occasionally, I ordered things I knew he didn't like -- extra veggies, tofu. But then he started liking those things. Now I just eat what I can off his plate (and I find it does sometimes mysteriously taste better when it's not my own dish). Oftentimes Brad isn't even aware he's consuming my meal until I point it out to him. Ultimately, I try to remember to be thankful, whenever possible, that Brad and I are just getting to have dinner together.

Then we go home and watch a little television before bed. Just like his aversion to maps and directions in the car, my husband strongly rejects the TV Guide at home. And just like his tendency in restaurants, Brad loves to have control over that remote. The weird part is that he can't stay on a channel for more than about five seconds. Even when he finds something he likes, he usually just keeps going anyway. Brad loves that every channel has something different, and he doesn't want to miss anything, so he tries to see them all. It's a television adventure. Channel surfing is a way of keeping an eye on things and staying in the driver's seat, so to speak. Brad stares at that bright, flickering box and points that remote like a caveman might have stared at the fire long ago and poked at it with a stick. Is this trait related to a type of stress release that has been passed on to men for thousands of years?

"Yeah," Brad grunted when I recently asked him.

One of my girlfriends hides the remote from her husband occasionally, declaring it "misplaced." But that technique is only good for a short-term fix, because your husband will inevitably find it and/or buy a more complicated, multi-button one, and you'll be back where you started.
Brad and I have finally negotiated a treaty. We take nightly turns controlling the channel changer -- and the pace at which it's used.

It's usually just as we're working the television situation out, snuggling under the blanket and happily digesting our meals, that somewhere, deep down, some other male "talent" suddenly erupts. I am talking about the sort of noises that used to make for some high-stakes contests in the school playground. Or perhaps your man is a little more discreet: My friend's husband loves to blame his strange noises on various floorboards in their old house. Who knew, she says, those floorboards smelled so funky?

First, let your man know that if he's gonna let it fly, you're probably not going to find it sexy. Personally, a serious blast can shut me down for the night. Second, if those poor floorboards just can't help themselves -- and I understand sometimes they can't -- tell your husband to use the floorboards in the other room (and light a match, to help quell the essence).

I used to often scratch my head over these male habits, pondering why they seem so foreign to me. Now I've finally realized they're actually a way for a man to be king of the road, lord of the larder, duke of the tube and ruler of the airwaves. And I respect that. Don't buy my theory? Then simply celebrate the mystery.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What A Great Idea

Using little more than an iPod and a school computer, teacher Camilla Gagliolo and her students have been making podcasts -- online radio shows that can be downloaded to an iPod or other portable MP3 player.

"It just makes so much sense. They are so drawn to this technology. They are so excited by it. They're comfortable with it," said Gagliolo, the school's technology coordinator.

Continue Reading

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Time For More Couch-Jumping

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are reportedly execting their first child together.

Read the whole article for yourself.