What’s a Mother to Do?
by Ann Edwards Cannon

Chapter 1
The Real Difference between Men and Women 

[p.3]I read an article in the newspaper the other night that talked about  the differences between men and women. The article dealt primarily with differences in social behavior, the kinds of little differences that might crop up at mixed dinner parties where everyone has to figure out how to use more than one fork. According to this article, certain persons with Ph.D.s in psychology have discovered that men interrupt women about ten-to-the-47th power times more often than women interrupt men. That’s why when men and women are together at dinner parties you might hear a conversation like this:

WOMAN: The other day when I was downtown I ran into—
MAN: Yo Honey! Pass me the dip!

These same psychologists who discovered that men interrupt women also claim that men are more assertive than women when it comes to expressing themselves. A man dying of Starvation, for instance, will always say, “I’m dying of starvation,” whereas a woman likewise dying of starvation will murmur politely, “Is anybody here hungry? Can I get anybody something to eat?”

My own mother used to talk a little like this when we were teenagers. When she’d say, “Would anybody here like a Snickers bar?” what she really meant was, “Get some money from your father and go buy me a Snickers bar.” But I digress.

I thought the article was interesting as far as it went, but it left out the crucial difference between the sexes which, in my opinion, is that a woman will ALWAYS stop to ask for Directions and a man NEVER will. I happen to know this is true because I have lived with men all my life—first my father and brothers and now my husband. All of them are honorable, decent, sensitive men who hardly ever interrupt my mother and me, and yet all of them, it seems, would rather spend their time getting on and off the same freeway interchange fifty times than stopping to ask for directions. I really think we spent half of our [p.4]family vacations to Los Angeles sitting in a station wagon while my dad and brothers tried to figure out how to get us from my Aunt Alta’s apartment to Dodger Stadium without asking anybody for directions along the way.

My husband, Ken, is no different from any other man in my family. Once when the two of us were travelling home through Colorado, we accidentally ended up in Durango otherwise known as the “Pinto Bean Capital of the World.” We wound up in Durango because Ken made a wrong turn somewhere between Colorado Springs and Grand Junction and he wouldn’t listen to me when I said I thought we were going the wrong way and didn’t he want to pull into the next gas station to find out for sure. The reason I knew we were going the wrong way was because I had already been to Durango once before with my own father who was probably on his way to some place else, too.

When I was teaching freshman English at Brigham Young University, I mentioned that if my female-being-lost-in-a-car-with-a-guy-who-refuses-to-stop-for-directions story is such a universal experience, then the Ancient Greeks must have written myths about it. Anyway when I asked my male students why they refused to get directions, they all puffed out their chests and informed me that they never ask for directions because THEY’RE NEVER REALLY LOST IN

THE FIRST PLACE! For guys it’s just a matter of time. They know that if they drive down every street in America they will eventually find the place they are looking for without having to stop and admit to a complete stranger that they have no idea what planet they’re on let alone in which part of town.

My friend Cindy thinks this is the real reason why men refuse to stop. They hate to look stupid in front of other men who work at really macho places like gas stations and Circle K stores. So they just go ahead and drive around in circles all day which is clearly the manly thing to do.

My husband, Ken, now concedes that driving around in hopes that he’ll eventually stumble onto the place he wants to be is not a very efficient use of his time. He still won’t stop for directions, however. Instead, he’s taken to handing me a map and asking me to navigate. This would work out great if only I could figure out how to read a map. However, I missed that day in school when they had the lecture called “MAPS AND HOW TO READ ONE.” I also missed the [p.5]days when they mentioned decimals and why we need them, as well as how many pints really do equal one quart.

So if you see a married couple driving up and down, up and down your street and you notice that the woman is holding a map wrong side up, you’ll know it’s only Ken and me.

We’re just trying to find our way home from Durango.