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July 11, 2006

On His Own, Man Lives Like a Beast

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Why yes, the Missus has been out of town for a week. How did you know?

(Actual unretouched photograph of the current state of the Blowhard family dining table. When The Wife is around, it's maintained in a state of perfect bare black.)



UPDATE: Thanks to John Massengale, who points a piece that dares to ask the question, Whatever happened to Male Space in the home?

posted by Michael at July 11, 2006


I notice each chair is occupied; I'm sure each of the chair fillers are a substitution for some important character trait of The Wife.

But...where are the empty wine bottles and scrunched up boxes of Galoises? And that floor???? It looks way too clean and bare of detritus.

Posted by: DarkoV on July 11, 2006 7:32 AM


And how are those Swanson tv dinners?

Heh, you know, after a lapse of 20 years, I actually bought the traditional Swanson turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes. It wasn't too bad. Then again, I kind of like airline food too.

I've got the perfect song for the YouTube video of your current home state -- Elvis Costello's "Why Can't a Man Stand Alone".

Take care my brother,


Posted by: Robert Holzbach on July 11, 2006 8:11 AM

Heh. But don't you like how clean your home is after you've cleaned it up in time for her return?

Posted by: jult52 on July 11, 2006 8:28 AM

DarkoV -- Funny the way "a chair" represents something different to a guy than to a gal, isn't it? To my wife, a chair is something someone might at any instant want to sit on. To me, a chair is another surface to be filled by my personal mind-detritus. As long as nothing gets between me and my Barcalounger, that is!

Holzbachian - That's a hilarious line about you enjoying airline food. So far I've managed to fill the apartment with smoke twice. Who knew hamburgers were such a temperamental dish to cook?

Jult52 -- There's nothing like that last-minute scramble to get the place ready for the wife's return ... Especially the "trying to see it through her eyes" bit. I have a theory that men literally don't see "mess" in quite the same way that women do. I wonder if there's anything to it, or whether it's just a line I use to try to explain myself to the wife when she gets particularly exasperated with my apartment habits. I'm a big maker of stacks, and I do tend to spread my brain out all over every possible surface ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 11, 2006 9:55 AM

I tend to let things pile up, but in tidy piles, mind you. I'll clean when (1) company is coming, or (2) I can't find stuff in those piles that I know is there, somewhere. I'll be moving in with my bride later this summer, so things will definitely change, she liking things neat.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on July 11, 2006 11:07 AM

Andres Duany has slowly been working on a book called Male Space. There was a presentation at CNU XIV.

Posted by: john massengale on July 11, 2006 12:42 PM

I think it's a bit of a myth that the female is tidier than the male.
Can I be the only male who has a female relative, friend or lover who is spectacularly untidy? Of course not. And yet the myth persists. Why?

Posted by: ricpic on July 11, 2006 12:49 PM

Ricpic -- Maybe it's different definitions of tidy? My stacks and piles and sprawl have an order to them, darn it -- but to The Wife they look plain ugly. Her own heaps look like female insanity to me, but she knows exactly where everything is. FWIW, in our relationship the biggest diff has to do with putting stuff away. The Wife insists on clean table tops and a minimum of visible stacks -- yet with closets and cabinets she doesn't mind complete chaos, while I do. (I'm a big one on digging into closets and cabinets and bringing order to the contents. She can live with it as is.) "Putting things away" is very important to her, god only knows why. Me, I prefer to have everything out all the time. Putting stuff away and then taking it out again strikes me as a big waste of time. The Wife's dream studio would be all closets and cabinets and everything inside them, bare surfaces otherwise. In my dream studio, I'd have tons of shelf and closet and wall space, and it would all be open. So maybe that kind of combo of vectors equates with "men are messier than women"?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 11, 2006 2:30 PM

Ricpic -

Here we come to the perennial misunderstanding (which Steve Sailer has dubbed "Plato's disease") of assuming that everything is composed of immutable essences, rather than shifty probablilities. Are there some (or many) individual women who are messier than some (or many) individual men? Of course. But that says nothing about the averages, in which most men are much messier than most women. Another example: there are certainly many women who are taller than many men. Does that mean that the statement "Men are taller than women" id completely invalid? Sure, you might want to qualify it with words like "most", "tend to", etc., but the fact is everyone gets the meaning behind the statement.

We all know that people are variable and there are always excpetions to every rule. But in our ever-increasing PCness, we are unable to make any general statement, about anything, for risk of someone coming along and saying, "I once hd a cousin who knew a guy who said he knew a girl who..." and give you a smug look like they've disproved you...

Posted by: jimbo on July 11, 2006 3:34 PM

When I lived by myself my place was spotless, and everything was put away where it went, and I had a cleaning rotation with a task for each day and I did them.

My wife tended toward a more, shall we say, cozily disordered, even bohemian, domestic dishevelment, which was tolerable. And as the kids began to arrive, my neat as a pin bachelor days became a remote memory. I am, however, training them, in GULAG-like fashion and I live in hope of an orderly house again one day.

Posted by: Lexington Green on July 11, 2006 4:58 PM

Maybe it's because I'm a "high androgen woman," or maybe it's because I've had a lot of "men's jobs," but I get a little nervous when things are too neat. If that were my table there would be far more books, a couple of tools like wire-cutters or hole punches, a plant or two, a bowl or three, my coffee mug (I avoid clutter there by just having one coffee mug that I wash now and then), a couple of cats and maybe the sewing machine.

What Netflix movie is that?

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on July 11, 2006 6:59 PM

Scenario (based on a true story): Mr Woozle loves to munch on cashew nuts whilst reading the paper. As a result, he constantly leaves the jar of cashews sitting on the living room coffee table. This drives Mrs Woozle crazy since an unsightly plastic jar of nuts on the coffee table simply ruins her otherwise perfect living room decor and every time she returns the jar to the kitchen cupboard, she'll find it back on the coffee table the next day. Mrs Woozle accuses Mr Woozle of being untidy and not being able to put things away after himself. Mr Woozle claims that it is silly to locate an object so far away from where it is most frequently used and that the jar of cashews naturally belongs on the coffee table. (He is the only one in the house who eats cashews). Mrs Woozle's argument appeals to asthetics and tidiness, Mr Woozle's argument appeals to practicality and convenience. Who do you agree with? What is the solution?

Overall, I find women - if they aren't instinctively tidy - like to create artifical tidiness - usually by cramming all their junk into cupboards and drawers. This makes a room look tidy, but it also makes things impossible to find and get to when you need them. In contrast, mens' approach to "tidying up" seems to be to haul everything out of the cupboards in order to sort them out before putting them back in neatly. This is fine except that it often takes days or weeks before everything is finally sorted and put back in, prompting the lady of the house to scream about how the man has made an even bigger mess despite promising to tidy up. Is this consistent with others' experiences?

By the way, Mr Woozle finally sorted out the problem by storing his cashew nuts in a very elegant urn that harmonized perfectly with Mrs Woozle's interior decorating scheme.

Posted by: Tom on July 11, 2006 8:37 PM

See, this is why a man can't live in my house.

One notices that when it comes to sailboats and airplanes, men manage to be organized. That's what really tears it.

Anyway, brooms are older than you think and my garage is neat as a pin.

But I get that from my father (a man much like Lex, except that he simply made my mother have help and led us, some of us, by example). In fact, we have a saying that "you are not my father's child" unless you have/wouldn't dream of having a pencil sharpener - in good working order and not gummed up with shavings - in the garage. Those of us who are my father's children, truly, have square pencils, too, in case you were wondering.

As long as we're talking generally, who else finds that the tidier a person is, the more likely it is that person can rough it?

Posted by: j.c. on July 11, 2006 9:26 PM

Tom said: "In contrast, mens' approach to 'tidying up' seems to be to haul everything out of the cupboards in order to sort them out before putting them back in neatly." Yup -- this used to be a major bone of contention between the ex-hub and I -- whenever we'd have people over, I'd be throwing things in drawers and cupboards, cleaning surfaces, etc., and he would choose that day to drag everything out of a closet or the garage, which felt like cleaning to him.

The new man of the house and I are getting a person to come in and clean, as soon as we can, hopefully by the end of the summer. Neither one of us is any good at it.

Posted by: missgrundy on July 12, 2006 1:03 PM

Hah! That's not a mess. That's creative clutter. I'm female and I like my tables filled with stuff. It's like a physical extension of my mind--just as everything is on the table is stewing, so are ideas in my brain. I find it hard to think when everything is so bare and sterile. (Maybe this is why I dump tons of junk on the desk when I go to the library as well...)

Posted by: sya on July 12, 2006 8:52 PM

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