Monday, January 11, 2010

Secret insight into the male psyche revealed -- and why Curmudgeon is more screwed up than usual

I will let you in this morning on a deep insight into the male psyche: We crave an orderly routine above almost anything else. This is not to say that women prefer chaos -- that would be silly -- but women can cope with it better. Usually.

I suppose it all goes back to the earliest days of the human species, when men were out hunting mastodons or great elk or bison or whatever. Everything had to be done just so in order for the hunt to be successful. And the hunters' quarry followed a predictable routine -- gathering at the bend in the river after the snows melted and when the Sun rises over the Great Rock -- that sort of thing. Our most remote male ancestors struggled to discern patterns in their surroundings -- and the men who were better at it had more successful hunts and lived long enough to reproduce.

Meanwhile, back at the caves, our great-great-grandmothers were tending the young and gathering roots and berries and maintaining the cooking fires and tanning hides -- multitasking right from the Dawn of Time. Babies then, just like babies now, would wake up unpredictably, demanding to be fed, sometimes in the middle of the night and sometimes during roots and berries time. And of course, occasionally (and unpredictably), while the hunting parties were off chasing deer, a bear might wander into camp and try to repossess the cave. The women would have to cope with that, too.

Thus, from earliest times, women have been conditioned to handle whatever comes -- and men aren't.

Recent events in the Curmudgeon household illustrate how these primal principles are still operative. Older Daughter just finished nursing school, you'll remember, and she's stressed about the upcoming boards -- and she's got the kinds of problems that a lot of young married persons have when the honeymoon daze dissipates. And she's going to have gall bladder surgery at the end of the week. Long Suffering Spouse copes with it. I do my best to ignore it.

Oldest Son is getting married in May and we have to hie ourselves to San Antonio for the occasion, with all the disruptions that this entails. Long Suffering Spouse is coping with it. I'm doing my best to ignore this, too.

Youngest Son is driving for the first time to school and getting up at ridiculously early times for baseball and/or football workouts -- but not everyday. Long Suffering Spouse keeps track. I am annoyed that my morning routine is interrupted on days when Youngest Son doesn't leave early. Or maybe it's on days that he does....

Younger Daughter had to get back to school this weekend. Well, actually, she doesn't have classes until Wednesday, but she was complaining about sitting around the house with nothing to do while the rest of us were at work or school. And, oddly enough, her boyfriend is back on campus, too. Hmmmmm. Long Suffering Spouse had to cope with Younger Daughter's saving all her laundry to be done yesterday and then her haphazard packing. All I had to do was drive and help carry stuff.

Also, this weekend, we had to take down the Christmas decorations. I was against putting these up in the first place -- but the house settles into a routine with the tree up so that's fine. But the holiday routine is destroyed by taking everything down. (I may want to talk about this one separately at some point.) But Long Suffering Spouse coped while I chafed.

The one thing that's putting Long Suffering Spouse closest to the edge at this moment is Middle Son. He finally started -- last week -- that job he had been promised for June. In the last couple of weeks, he's bought a car, rented an apartment, bought a new phone and a giant TV set -- all with money he hasn't earned yet. For the last week he's stayed at our house, visiting his swinging bachelor pad perhaps only once or twice. "There's no hurry," Long Suffering Spouse counseled, especially since Middle Son (who loves to eat) has not learned to cook... or iron a shirt....

Nevertheless, yesterday afternoon, when Middle Son awoke, he announced to one and all that yesterday would be his last in the Curmudgeon house. While Long Suffering Spouse ironed his shirts for the coming week, Middle Son borrowed our van to take over a bed and a table to his new digs. He returned to gather up his clothes (including the newly ironed shirts), stuffing his new car, and finally leaving last night around 10:15.

Long Suffering Spouse had reached the end of her ability to cope. "This is crazy," she told me. "He can't cook, he can't iron -- will he get up in time to get to work? He has to do well in this job!" I asked Middle Son to text me this morning when he arrived at work -- and he did -- but, on a primal level, I understood what is happening here: Middle Son is feeling the instinctive lure and comfort of a routine, even a new one, and there can be no routine living in two places.

He'll be back frequently for meals; I just know it.

In the meantime, I have hopes of reclaiming a routine of my own. And about time, too.


Cristina said...

Wow, must adjusting and coping going on over there. Hope it settles down soon.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh my GOSH. i need a nap thinking about what lss is doing! bless her heart!!!

smiles, bee

Shelby said...

my husband craves order all right.. and he wants me to do all the ordering. I'm the CEO, the CFO, the COO, the president, the chairman of the board, the analyst, inhouse counsel, designer, cleaner, director, producer, disciplinarian, chief bacon fryer, and the firing squad. I think I"ll quit soon.