We need more “Pink Think” around here

Categorized as 12/08/08 Goshen News column

Growing up in a family where women outnumbered the men three to two, life seemed pretty fair and balanced. On my father’s side, there were 19 cousins, 12 girls and 7 boys. While it may not have been balanced, it was certainly fair.

I should’ve known to enjoy it while it lasted. Back in the glory days when girls ruled and boys drooled, there was justice in the world. Sure, there was some infighting, but if the boys were being dumb or mean, we girls would circle the wagons and give them what for.

Cousin Don in particular was one of the biggest stinkers. Once in awhile, just to keep him humble, we would gang up on him and wrestle him down so one of us could plant a big, wet one on his cheek. That he fought like a cornered badger goes without saying.

Naturally, my girlish dreams centered around a knight in shining armor. Well, he certainly showed up. But my dreams of a nice, even mix of little knights-in-training and curly-headed ladies-in-waiting at a round table? Ha! We got the little knights, but there is no round table, and the only curly-headed lady is me, although it’s true – I’m always waiting.

Part of my calling in life, I believe, is to inject as much estrogen as I can into my world. If this sounds noble, it’s not. It’s a matter of survival, really, and it’s my attempt to keep my frail pink canoe from being swamped in a sea of testosterone. That’s why, for instance, I carry my keys on a ring that holds a little pink dress. It makes the other drivers in my house very nervous. They have whiskers, see, and low voices. They’d rather walk barefoot over a bed of nails than to be caught carrying the pink dress. If they absolutely have to use my keys, they get buried deep in a pocket or in the depths of my red purse before one masculine toe exits the van.

I was reminded recently of the stark difference between “pink think” and “blue think” when we went to pick out new cell phones. The teenager was largely concerned about available music features. Mr. Schrock basically wanted a handheld office manager – a touch-screen phone with Word, Excel, Power Point, an iPod, and a Day Planner that would sync to his computer and start the coffee in the mornings. And I? I was going by color.

The two left-brain males I was shopping with looked at me as if I’d sprouted a third eyeball in the middle of my forehead. They rolled their eyes. They shook their heads. They chuckled between themselves at my feminine excitement when I found a pearly pink one with a built-in Walkman and FM radio. Seeing as how someone ignored my not-so-subtle hints for an iPod last year for a very big birthday, you’d think he would’ve shown some glee himself at having bought some time.

Another area in which pink brains and blue brains differ greatly is communication. Men, I’ve noted, can summarize their whole day in one word. “How was school today?” I will ask a returning scholar. “Good,” he replies. “So what happened?” I press on. “Nothing,” he says. “Really?” I say. “Nothing happened?” “Nope.”

Ask a girl what happened at school and you get a two-hour commentary on who wore what, who’s fighting, who likes whom, and what the social climate on the bus was like. This goes on until your ears have no feeling. The conversation is punctuated by tears and/or laughter, and sometimes both in the same sentence. Surely this has nothing to do with why my dad and brother spent so much time in the woods.

In the absence of an in-house English professor, I have taken it upon myself to sharpen the communication skills around here. Using flash cards and flip charts, we conduct drills on important things like adjectives. “Give me three,” I say, “and ‘good,’ ‘fine,’ and ‘nice’ don’t count.”

The reason I persevere despite many setbacks is actually for the good of their future marriages. When a woman says, “Does this make me look fat,” a fellow had better be able to think on his feet. Having a few good describing words to pull out of his hat could really save his bacon.

Slumber parties and gift giving look entirely different as well. Per one son’s recent report, their slumber parties consist of pretending they’re WWE wrestlers and throwing each other’s plaid boxers up in the tree. This just doesn’t sound like a good time to me.

I can’t drum up any excitement about the kinds of gifts they give, either. Things like a gear shift head that lights up in the dark. Or an Airsoft gun that shoots plastic BBs, which is then used mercilessly at the next slumber party. Now, give me things like Bath and Body Works, clothes money, or a new purse to go with that pink phone, and I can come up with some adjectives for you – if your ears can handle it, that is.

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