Disclaimer: Before you ladies send me dirty emails, understand that this column was written in very broad generalities. And besides, I thought it was funny.
Time was invented for man.
As in the male of the species, the hunter and gatherer, the grunter and growler.
And little children should be thankful (more of that later).
A timepiece means totally different things to men vs. women. It’s the old Mars and Venus syndrome.
For a man a watch is like something he keeps in his toolbelt. It’s practical and useful. It’s something to, well, watch.
For a woman a watch is a fashion accessory, a thing of beauty that has to match whatever she’s wearing or off it comes, not to be missed. Because its practicality is based on its fashion, not its utility.
Men are constantly looking at their watches. Remember George H.W. Bush during one of his presidential debates? He was chastised by pundits for glancing at his watch while his adversary had the floor.
In defense of Mr. Bush, when he pulled up his jacket sleeve to reveal his wristwatch, he likely didn’t even see the time. It was just habit from years of having to wait for Barbara to get ready for a state dinner.
Which brings me to the polar differences between the sexes in how they relate to time. When you tell a man that a social occasion is to begin at 7, he takes it as a command. To be late is like losing the battle with time.
Tell a woman that the party starts at 7 and she looks at it as a reference point. The term “fashionably late” came from women arriving late because they were taking care of fashion.
A man almost always knows within 15 minutes what time it is, even without looking at a timepiece. Conversely, a woman caught up in her daily routine often has no idea that she’s late to pick up the kids until she gets a call from the school.
Is that a bad thing? Probably not, unless you’re the kid who’s missed soccer practice.
On the one hand, women — and I’m speaking in very general terms — aren’t as focused on the concept of time. Instead, they’re more engaged in feelings and emotions.
On the other hand, time was created to drive men. Just think of all the sports that start and finish with a clock.
And even professional baseball games, which are divided into innings, often have the length of the game noted in the box score.
Go to a football or basketball game and half the focus of spectators (mostly men) is on the clock.
If it weren’t enough to divide basketball games into quarters and halves, rule-makers came up with the shot clock. And for football there’s the play clock.
Men can’t manage life without dividing it into neat parcels of time. It helps them get up and get going.
Consider this: Men look at time as an adversary that needs to be beaten. With a menial task at hand, a man will often set a goal to finish sooner than he did yesterday or last week.
When I was in college and driving a car to campus, on the last day of the semester I set a goal to drive home in less time than I’d done it before. I was well on my way to a new record when the cop pulled me over.
For years I drove to Mississippi twice a year to visit my wife’s family. When the kids were little we’d make them a bed in the back of the station wagon and drive all night.
My goal? To get to the Magnolia State within 11 hours.
That meant stopping only for gas, at which time everybody was to use the restroom. That’s why my girls had spacious bladders.
But the good news — the reason for them to be thankful — was that once they were awake they had fewer occasions to ask the inevitable question, “Are we there yet?”
Even now, when I travel for any distance I have to set the trip meter on the odometer and check my watch before leaving. It’s just built into me to compete with time.
It’s a man thing.
Now guys, let’s all synchronize our watches …
Larry Penkava is a correspondent for The Courier-Tribune. Contact: 336-302-2189, [email protected]