Listening Post: Guy stuff

Guy waiting in car, thinking guy thoughts. Photo: p2-r2, CC some rights reserved

If you live a long time in the North Country, certain behaviors will become invisible. It takes the eye of a relative newcomer to bring them back to light. Nora Flaherty, after a visit to the vet, remarked that the waiting room contained women and animals. Men waited outside in the parking lot. And you can see the same thing in the medical building parking lot outside the radio station, or the Price Chopper parking lot across the street. So, rule of thumb: if a North Country couple is driving around doing errands, where will you see the guy? In the parking lot, waiting in the car. And if it’s winter, you’ll still find him in the car, with the motor running to keep warm. The only exception is at the car mechanic, or in the hardware store–you know–certified guy territory.

Why? As a male, and a North Country old-timer, I feel I can speak to this. The only thing North Country men hate more than shopping is sitting in close quarters with strangers. Men can only be included among the social animals by courtesy. If we wanted to be in close quarters, we would pay closer attention to grooming and dress, and would shave more frequently. We’d much rather be thinking our guy thoughts, or listening to the radio, or reading the paper. If circumstance forces a man into a non-hardware retail environment, he’ll work from a list, no exceptions (unless there’s snack food at the checkout), and he’ll avoid eye contact when racing up and down the aisles. Shopping is a mission, not a social occasion. If their spouses had the same approach, more men would probably be willing to accompany them inside.

You may well be saying to yourself, “Why you sexist old Neanderthal.” A gentleman would not dignify such a remark with comment. A North Country guy, being a super-efficient communicator, would just grunt. If we liked to argue, we would talk in more than monosyllables.


11 Comments on “Listening Post: Guy stuff”

  1. john says:

    Ooot …. greeeeek …….

  2. Terrific and very accurate essay. Captures very well the reticent culture of men when their ladies go shopping. Very well done. VPR Commentator, Bill Schubart

  3. Pete Klein says:

    Oh, my god! Does this mean I am not a guy?

  4. Dan Tickner says:

    Right on. Totally accurate.

  5. Ellen Fleischmann says:

    With all due respect, what a bunch of bull! How long have you been living in a cave, man? I am a female and I hate shopping and do not at all consider it a social affair. I love hardware stores. My husband isn’t so keen on shopping, either, but he cares about what he eats and goes to the grocery store to shop for food without rigidly sticking to a list. He also like hardware stores. He also cooks. People are individuals, not these ridiculous sexist stereotypes. Good thing I know other people in the North Country who aren’t so limited. I pity you for wasting your time spending so much time sitting in cars. Why not just stay home and read a book or something? (But no, I guess guys don’t read books, right?)

  6. I have to agree with Ellen, although I’d not have put it in such strong words because I think you were being a bit tongue-in-cheek when including yourself in the category of car-sitting grunter.

  7. Michael Greer says:

    Over the last decade or so, as our kids were growing up, I noticed certain behaviours that seemed sex linked with our kids and their friends… The girls did their homework, and browbeat their brothers in doing homework too. The girls found boyfriends with cars…our boys rode bikes almost everywhere. The girls got excellent grades, scholarships, and worked their way through college, while the boys did less work, got scholarships, and did not work during the school year.
    Among their friends there were differences too. In general, girls got grades, jobs, and cars, while the boys hung out with their friends. This is quite different than the world that I grew up in, and may reflect more of a change in our society’s expectations than a change in human behaviours.

  8. erb says:

    Have you heard of the new book,”The End of Men” by Hanna Rosin? She has studied this and found exactly the trends you are talking about – that girls and women are adjusting to changes in society better than boys and men. It’s a powerful shift, especially in the area of higher education.

  9. Ellen Fleischmann says:

    I must say, I do love NCPR, where discussions like this are civil and funny. This is a plug for more of same! (Despite my “strong” previous post, yeah, I do have a sense of humor. I also grew up with three macho brothers and a macho football-player-former-hero dad, who definitely sits in the car –with a book – while my mom does the shopping thing. But some of us break out of the mold…)

  10. Two Cents says:

    as long as we are all aware of time perception’s little quirk- that 15 min. in the store shopping, equates to 1hr in the car waaiting….

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