Posted by Sheila Connolly

Now that we've all slogged through the turkey and the mashed potatoes and the gravy, and the last of the pumpkin pie and whipped cream, it's time to turn back to mysteries. In this case, men.

I'm sure we've all suffered (or enjoyed) the phenomenon of pigging out at a big meal and then dozing off in front of whichever football game is on (I understand that the tryptophan in turkey is especially good for producing that effect). At least, those of us lucky enough to escape the stacks of greasy dishes, or hauling the relatives back home. But there is a related phenomenon that baffles me, and I would welcome anybody's insight: Do all men go to sleep the minute they stop moving?

I've been married for over three decades now, and for three decades I've been watching my spouse sit down in a chair after dinner and immediately go to sleep. No, he hasn't had too much to drink. Yes, he's reasonably healthy. He just can't stay awake, even in a sitting position (forget about lying down). And this troubles me.

I did a detailed and highly scientific survey: I asked my mother and my sister about their experience in this area. Apparently I am not alone. My mother's second husband, and my sister's only husband, did or do exactly the same thing. Sit = sleep.

Is this a man thing? Because I'm having real trouble understanding it. To me, it looks like a lack of control–the guys just can't hang on to basic consciousness. It's also mildly insulting, if I'm in the same room. What kind of companionship does a snoring, drooling spouse provide (sorry, no pictures–I still have to live with the guy)? Plenty of meaningful conversation there, right? He misses television shows he says he wants to watch. He forgets he planned to do an errand, or wanted to call his relatives after dinner. Don't even mention reading a book–that's a sure-fire way to knock him out.

I keep wondering whether, if we were Neanderthals, he would have been dead long since. I mean, kill that mastodon, gorge on the rare treat of charred flesh and fat, fall asleep in the cave in front of the fire, and that sabertooth tiger is going to walk in and drag you off and eat you. (Okay, I'm probably muddling my prehistoric eras, but you get the idea.) Not a good survival trait. Sure, mastodon-killing and butchering and barbecuing are hard work, but still–drop your guard and you're dead. Maybe it was the little woman, who was busy hauling the gnawed bones out of the cave and stashing the scraps in banana leaves or whatever passed for Tupperware in those days, while making sure the littlest kiddies didn't fall into the fire, who kept that tiger at bay. She would have swatted him on the nose with her twig broom and sent him on his way. Oops–maybe it was a sabertooth "her". Don't female lions do all the serious hunting?

I admit that I don't understand why men get to rule the world and start all the wars. Can you imagine trying to stay awake during all those boring meetings? Sorry, guys–I can't solve/work on world peace until after my nap (let us take a moment to recall Ronald Reagan)? Women are at least as smart, and much better at multi-tasking. And we can stay awake, keeping the sabertooth tigers from eating our young and thereby protecting the species. We get little credit–and little sleep.

Dscn2606Postscript: And now the news you've all been waiting for... The lamp works! This is after I collected the arcane components, bid for parts on eBay, and stared at the boxes for weeks while searching for instructions on the Web. I finally scrounged up the courage to put them all together, and voila! I have light! It both impresses and saddens me that there were generations of people before us who knew how to make this thing work without even thinking about it, and to me it's completely foreign. But let the gales howl and the electric lines tumble. I am prepared!

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