Like all couples, Viking Woman and I have our differences.

For instance, she’s an outdoor person and I prefer to be inside. Where it’s warm and dry. And there aren’t any weeds.

She’s a dog person. I’m a too-lazy-to-walk-the-dog person.

She loves children. I like children. When they belong to someone else. And live far away. Preferably in another country.

She likes rom-coms. I’d rather poke a sharp stick in my eye.

She likes country music. I’d rather poke a sharp stick in my ear.

She likes people. I prefer to be alone. In a lighthouse. Built in a cave.

I like sex. She likes to sleep.

You get the picture.

We also tend to perch on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to sports. And by sports I mean hockey, as opposed to those other sweaty activities involving people who can’t skate.

I love watching hockey. Viking Woman would rather conduct a root canal on herself. With a chainsaw.

Although, having said that, she did once prove her love to me when we were still dating by memorizing the names of all the NHL teams. I was suitably impressed, even if there were only 21 teams at the time.

Of course, like all romantic gestures, this one did not survive the wedding vows.

Day of wedding:

Me: Prove your love by naming all the teams.

VW: (proceeds to do so)

Day after wedding:

Me: Prove your love by naming all the teams.

VW: Puck off!

Despite all these disagreements, we have managed to stay together for nearly two decades.

Until now, that is.

It’s with a heavy heart that I must report Viking Woman has taken up with another man. Fifteen other men, to be exact.

Because that’s the number of players each team is allowed on the field at any one time during the Rugby World Cup tournament.

That’s right – the woman who would rather bathe in battery acid than share the same room with a copy of The Hockey News, now sits in the lounge, eyes fixated on the TV, yelling encouragement at the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national team.

Rugby is a relatively new sport to both of us and so we’re not quite sure of all the rules. Which might explain why I’m shouting, “Hey, ref! Get a real job!” while Viking Woman is shouting, “Hey, ref! Get out of the way! You’re blocking my view of Daniel Carter’s bum!”

Like I said, as far as I’m concerned, there is hockey and then there are silly games played by people who can’t afford to buy pads. Rugby is one of those silly games: Large hunks of meat crashing into each other, wearing little more than a tight jersey and short shorts.

Nope, can’t see the attraction.

The winner of the Rugby World Cup won’t be crowned until Oct. 23. I expect this marriage to be well and truly over by then.

Unless, of course, Viking Woman can recite the 30 teams currently playing in the NHL. Let’s start with Anaheim . . .

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I was appalled to read recently where women judge men not by their chiseled good looks, nor by their iron-clad abdomens. Neither are they swayed to swooning by a keen sense of humour nor straight teeth nor the bulge in the pants that indicates a wallet fat with banknotes.

Nope. Women, apparently, judge men by their shoes.

Which would explain why no one is lining up to seduce me. Well that and the fact I’m married. And old.

Shoes, I readily admit, have never ranked very high on my personal priority list. They’re good for keeping my socks dry and my feet clean and, um, well, that’s about it, right?

I currently own a pair of year-old running shoes that I bought in Las Vegas, a pair of hiking boots that I save for winter and then never actually summon the energy to bend down and dig out from the back of the closet, and a pair of black dress shoes that are reserved for weddings/funerals/job interviews and so still look new.

I will confess to trying to keep up with foot fashion, during a time I like to call my Young and Foolish Phase.

I once owned a pair of “motorcycle’” boots whose unfortunate demise came during a tour of Europe when the sudden loosening of one heel nearly deposited me in a Venetian canal.

Later in the ’70s, prompted by an attraction to a towering young miss, I invested in a pair of boots with elevated soles that saw me at risk of snapping ankles and neck every time I teetered around in them.

My shoe shortage is in direct contrast to Viking Woman who, the last time I bothered to look, possessed the exact same number of feet as I do, and yet has this strange urge to amass a huge collection of footware. And by huge, I mean at least 20 pairs, if you can wrap your brain around that extreme excess.

It must be an estrogen thing. How else to describe this tragic inability women have to just say no to their feet.

And, of course, it’s never just the shoes. I’ve spent countless hours wedged into a plastic chair, fondly reminiscing about my bachelor days, while Viking Woman ogled the latest fashion offering in stitched leather. Only to be told, at the end of this lengthy exercise, that now she needs matching accessories, starting with a purse.

All of which makes raises the question as to what it was that attracted her to me in the first place. Maybe I looked like a patient man, one who would endure her foot foibles without a whimper of protest.

Or maybe she took one look at how I clad my lower extremities and knew straight away she’d never have to worry about losing me to another woman. As improbable as it sounds, she was absolutely right.

As much as I hate to keep harping on about the year I just spent in the Cook Islands – “Yes, John, you are a lucky dog. And, yes, we are all soooo envious.” – the time Viking Woman and I spent apart did open my eyes to one very crucial aspect of our married life. After nearly 18 years together, we are – in small bursts, at least – actually quite incompatible.

As you can well imagine, it is rather a shock to the system to discover that we are not, after all these years, a perfect match. In fact, we disagree on several things. And by things I mean the TV shows we prefer to watch. For instance, I enjoy reality shows. Viking Woman, on the other hand, would rather stare into the sun than tally the votes.

See what I mean? Totally not made for each other.

I could have saved myself 18 Christmas presents and thousands of faked hugs if I’d only known this from the very beginning.

In the event I ever find myself single again – which might be sooner than later at this rate – and so as to avoid enduring another bout of abject heartbreak, I’ve put together a short list of questions to pose to prospective dates.

The idea is cut to the chase, to verify immediately whether I’d be wasting our time and my money trying to impress someone I will later want to convince to sail on an oil tanker off the coast of Somalia.

Men, feel free to adapt this quiz to your own studly personalities and cute little quirks.

1. Name all 30 NHL teams. (Hint: The response of “What’s an NHL?” will be judged an automatic fail. We are done here. Bye-bye.)

2. Which of the following NHL teams’ logos would look best tattooed on your lower back?

a) Detroit Red Wings; b) Detroit Red Wings; c) Detroit Red Wings.

3. If I’m trying to pull your sweater over your head, what am I doing? (Hint: “Initiating foreplay,” is not the answer. Sorry. The door is that way; you can let yourself out.)

4. List the following reality shows in order of preference:

a) Survivor; b) Survivor; c) Survivor.

5. What do you see when you look at a back yard?

a) lawns and flowerbeds; b) asphalt and ball hockey; c) a Jacuzzi and all your hot girlfriends indulging in European-style tanning.

6. If a man fall asleep after sex, do you think:

a) I wore him out because I’m pretty much an insatiable mink; b) he’s just recharging his batteries for our next bout of lovemaking; c) he’s bored, I should go, and, uh, how do I get my knickers off his head without waking him?

7. Which of the following would you print on your T-shirt?

a) “Disco sucks!”; b) “Rap sucks!”; c) “Country music sucks!”; d) “Rock’n’roll rules! (Hint: This might be a trick question. I said might.)

8. If a man’s snoring disturbs your sleep, do you:

a) smile in the knowledge he is instinctively reverting to the caveman’s sure-fire method for defending his family; b) shove your icy feet against the small of his back and hiss into his ear, “Wake up, dildo breath. Sabretooth tigers have been extinct for a million years.”

9. Is Meat Loaf:

a) the greatest rock opera singer in the history of the universe; b) a sneaky and devious method for disposing of leftovers.

10. Which Bruce Springsteen song is your all-time favourite?

a) all of them, in which case I am going to marry you right now, this very instant; b) none of them, in which case I’m going to need you to hand over your share of the cab fare right now, this very instant.

 And there you have it. Ten simple questions. Ten simple answers. Pure genius, right? Because we all know, when it comes to men, it’s all about being simple.

One of our neighbours likes to kick a soccer ball around the street while topless.

Under normal circumstances I might be too busy gawking to blog about this event except for the fact said neighbour is, as it turns out, male.

His name is Daniel and, if I tend to roll my eyes in disgust at his near-nude gambolling, Viking Woman and her fellow members of the Main Street chapter of the Women Who Wine Society have been known to become instantly transfixed by this fellow’s lewd antics.

Their knees grow weak, their eyes swell to saucer-like proportions, their verbal skills are reduced to little more than long sighs, and, for some strange reason, their breathing resembles gasping.

Frankly, I don’t see the attraction. Oh, I suppose, in the right light and on a good day, Daniel might be considered somewhat attractive. If, you know, one appreciates men who are darkly exotic in that fandango-inducing way South American men – in this case, Chilean – tend to be.

Fortunately, Daniel is also a nice fellow, a good neighbour and a loving husband and father. Otherwise, I’d have to dismember him and bury the assorted parts under the nikau palm in our back garden.

I’m pretty sure Viking Woman is winding me up when she goes all Lady Ga-Ga extolling the virtues of Daniel’s hairless, chiselled torso. After all, it’s not like I haven’t admired the occasional female form in my time. Of course, being a man, I’m not as choosy as Viking Woman and her cohorts, who seem to require a certain degree of perfection before their blood begins to bubble.

I’m more old-school in terms of what attracts me: Does she have a pulse? Yes? Then she’ll do.

Yes, I’m almost positive this is all good-natured ribbing, designed to keep us veterans of the marriage wars on our toes. After all, when it comes right down to it, the essential difference between Daniel and myself is that he has a job. Put a paycheque in my hand and we’d pretty much be twins.

That was my thought process until yesterday, when Viking Woman returned from a quick visit next door. I knew something was up because her cheeks were flushed a slight crimson and she was having a very hard time concealing a very large grin.

“What’s up with you?” I asked, in that annoyed-but-concerned tone husbands employ.

“Daniel just told me I’m looking good these days,” she replied.

Oh.

Really.

Whenever Viking Woman tells me I’m a truly talented writer, I shrug off the compliment and inform her wives and mothers are supposed to say things like that, which is why I tend not to put much weight in her opinion. Needless to say, she is never happy to be the object of my shrugs.

Apparently that rule of thumb does not work both ways, however. For example, I have informed my wife on several occasions that she is a beautiful specimen of all that is female. Most of the time she simply points to her ear and then carries on mowing the lawn.

But now Daniel – he of the sculpted abs and dusky charm and perfect smile – says the very same thing and suddenly she is struck giddy? Like his opinion is more important than mine?

Well, well: isn’t that interesting.

The very next time some sweet young thing informs me how much she enjoys my skills as an alchemist – how I transform words into emotions – I’m going to turn to Viking Woman and flash her one of those ‘it-works-both-ways-baby’ looks.

I’m sure she’ll understand. But I’m going to duck and cover anyway, just in case something is lost in translation.

The gap in time between New Zealand and the Mother Country is now so huge that we have to phone family members well before sparrow’s fart if we have any hope of apprehending them before they become too immersed in their day.

Which would explain why I was still in bed, enveloped in the cosy mists of sleep, while Viking Woman lay beside me explaining the fact of life to one of her daughters.

That’s right, folks: “fact.” Singular. As in one. And Viking Woman’s solitary nugget went something like this: men are little more than clever pets.

Even as I lay in Mr. Sandman’s embrace, I could tell Viking Woman was using “clever” in the loosest possible meaning of the word. The ability to tell time, for instance, as long as the clock is digital. Or possessing the dexterity to use Velcro because, face it, shoelaces were invented by Satan to drive us mad.

The daughter on the other end of the line was, it seems, having Boy Trouble. The inhabitant of Planet Man in question was dragging his feet when it came to establishing a meaningful relationship. I’ve always referred to this move as “being cautious.” Women, it turns out, call it “being a dickhead with commitment issues.” Like it was a bad thing.

It’s been my observation that women have a nasty habit of immersing themselves completely in the deep end of the love pool, and then later wonder why they tend to drown in their own tears. Men, on the other hand, prefer to dip their toes only as far as needed to keep the water flowing at an even temperature. We have no desire to waste time swimming affection laps, not while there’s beer in the fridge and a game on TV.

A female Facebook buddy agreed with Viking Woman’s “pet” analogy.

Well,” she pointed out, “we do feed them, clean up after them, stroke their heads, tell them we love them, let them nuzzle our faces . . .”

The thing is, Viking Woman and my FB friend are both missing the point: men are running the biggest scam in the history of the world. We do not need women to feed us – that’s why the Baby Jesus invented KFC. We do not need women to clean up after us – that’s what shovels are for.

The rest – the stroking, the patting, the verbal appreciation, the nuzzling – well, that’s the price we’re willing to pay for what Viking Woman refers to as “connubial relations.”

There is one fact of life on Planet Man and it is this: we’ll put the least amount of effort as possible into a relationship as long as women continue to insist on doing all the heavy lifting.

Clever pet? I’m thinking yes.

You’ve got to feel sorry for the inhabitants of Planet Man. No, really — I’m being serious here, people.

If we’re not being told to “man up,” we’re being accused of acting like testosterone-fueled louts whose brains — and eyes — never rise above the level of a woman’s swimsuit area.

That point has been hammered home to me lately courtesy of a number of stories on the Internet and in magazines about the various minefields we all tend to stumble through in order to form a relationship with a member of the opposite gender.

The first article (1) suggested women actually use a mental stopwatch during sex. Something along the lines of “One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thou . . . you’ve got to be kidding me!”

On the other hand, as it were, the Viagra Vanguard isn’t that popular either. I conducted an informal poll (OK, I asked two women) and the consensus is that, no matter how well-intentioned (or well-lubricated) the lovemaking, at a certain point friction becomes the most important factor. Plainly speaking, things eventually get rubbed raw. And by things I mean, you know, things.

Here’s another example of the pressure the inhabitants of Planet Man face on a daily basis: a woman’s reaction when we attempt to answer that eons-old question: Does my bum look big in this fig leaf/loincloth/animal fur/jeans?

Face it, guys, there are only two possible answers and they are both going to end in tears:

Him: No.

Her: You’re lying

Him: Yes.

Her: You’re dead.

If that’s not enough mixed signals for you, another story (2) related how Kiwi men are rated the eighth best husbands in the world. Based on — wait for it — their willingness to do housework.

In other words, my fellow penis possessors, what the ladies are saying is what impresses them most is not our performance in the bedroom but, rather, the length of our vacuum hoses and our stamina in the kitchen when faced with a sinkful of greasy dishes.

With that survey in mind, I’ve now taken to parading around the house wearing nothing but an apron and pink rubber gloves.

Which may explain why the neighbors no longer open their curtains.

Yet another story (3) featured the news that healthier sperm may mean longer life. Yes, apparently good semen quality will add years to our time here on Planet Man. Of course, more years means more housework but, hey, we’ll just have to take solace in the thought that at least all those swimmers churning in our netherlands are happy little buggers.

The story does not explain how to achieve healthy sperm, but I’m thinking exercise. I’m also imagining this conversation:

Her: What are you doing in the bathroom with the door locked?

Him: I’m living longer.

Her: You’re dead.

But just before she breaks down the door with the same frying pan that will soon be bouncing off your skull, you might want to take the advice of a blogger (4) who offered up a list of compliments every woman loves to hear. Even if you’re saying them from the other side of a locked bathroom door while swaddling your body in a protective cocoon of Charmin.

If you have  sensitive gag reflex, you might want to skip this part, but here’s the top five compliments that might save your life:

1. You’re irreplaceable.

2. You bring light to my life.

3. You are perfect just the way that you are.

4. I love your (fill in the blank with any of her body parts situated outside the swimsuit area — if you can think of any. I know, me neither).

5. I am so proud of you.

Yes, as a matter of fact I did throw up in my mouth just typing that list. but what left me shaking my head (apart from the fact that I want to meet the man who actually utters No. 2 — and then kick him in the nuts) is that the following compliment failed to make the list:

Him: For a fat girl, you don’t sweat much.

Her: You’re dead.

But after all the doom and gloom besetting Planet Man via these reports — if your rotten sperm doesn’t kill you, your wife will — I was pleased to find at least one tidbit of good news.

According to The New York Times (5), a potbelly (nicknamed the Ralph Kramden) is the new hot look for males. Six-pack abs are so, like, yesterday, dude.

The story noted that a taut belly and other metrosexual traits are now considered “prissy” and an indication that you “may have too much time on your hands.”

This revelation could, of course, lead to this conversation:

Her: You’re fat.

Him: I have no time for you because I’m busy.

Her: You’re about to be busy being dead.

***

Reference sources:

(1) Men’s Business, by Matt Philp, Your Weekend, The Dominion Post, Aug. 8, 2009

(2) Kiwis 8th best husbands, Aussies worst, AAP, Aug. 4, 2009

(3) Men with livelier, more plentiful sperm live longer, by Anne Harding, Reuters, July 27, 2009

(4) 5 Compliments Every Woman Loves To Hear, by YourTango, Aug. 4, 2009

(5) It’s Hip to be Round, by Guy Trebay, The New York Times, Aug. 13, 2009

***

Buy my book at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1937

***

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I stand before the All Supreme Senate (ASS) of Planet Man to offer my sincere apologies and await my punishment.

But, first, if I may, my defence: It wasn’t my fault.

Yes, I understand that is the typical Planet Man response anytime someone questions our behaviour, attitude, clothing choices or Internet bookmarks. But, in this case, it’s the truth. No, really.

You see, Viking Woman was too busy doing that whole employment thing to start in on making another batch of homemade soup. She asked if I’d kindly get off my frickin’ bum and leave my office space for one bloody minute to help her out.

I’m pretty sure there was a veiled reference in there somewhere about physical contact should I not obey and, once I ascertained said contact involved a frying pan and the back of my skull, I was only too happy to make an appearance in the kitchen.

I know this is news to the esteemed members of ASS, but when you make soup, you don’t simply throw whole veggies in a cauldron, turn on the hob and reach for the TV remote. There is actual cutting and chopping involved, which is why Viking Woman, as she headed out the door, suggested I use the food processor.

I’m not sure if the esteemed members understand the principles behind a food processor, but it involves blades. Sharp blades. Moving very fast.

I’ve seen what that blade can do to a short, stubby carrot and imagined it could just as easily do the same to my short stubby fingers. And so I decided against adding a new ingredient to the soup mix. I mean, there’s organic and then there’s cannibal.

So I read the instructions.

Gentlemen, please! Settle! I know, I know — I broke one of Planet Man’s most important tenets: Never ask.

I know the rule is designed to reinforce the notion that we’re in command at all times, lest Viking Woman and her ilk think us weak and start making demands. Like having the right to vote and other silly notions.

I know, when we open a box, we’re required to throw away the styrofoam and the cardboard and the instruction manual, and not necessarily in that order. That it doesn’t matter if our VCRs flash 12 for-freakin’-ever or the chainsaw runs backwards or the car’s brakes only work every other day.

I know all this and yet I still decided to use the printed guide to figure out how the food processor worked.

What can I say, I’m weak. On a related note, soup will be served during the break in these proceedings. I can assure you it’s yummy. Very nice consistency, if I do say so myself.

So, yes, I stand here before you to plead guilty. I have let Planet Man down and all I can is, I regret my actions. My bad. And, oh yeah, it won’t happen again. And, we’re just friends. Oops, sorry, force of habit.

I understand that I may have my official manhood membership suspended as a result of my misconduct. That’s OK. It’s a bit wrinkled and  limp at the moment, but it’s been subjected to worse beatings than this in the past and I’m sure it will bounce back from this one with its head held high.

I will also submit a formal letter of apology to ASS. Well, I would if I could just figure out how to turn on the computer. Does anyone have the instruction manu . . . oh crap.

Other than the obvious (dangly bits + vise grips + blowtorch = pain), there are not too many ways to hurt those of us who inhabit Planet Man.

For the most part, we’re quite adept at shrugging off the roadblocks life throws at us. For example:

Wife: “Honey, I ran over the family dog.” Planet Man resident: “No problem. I saw a cute St. Bernard puppy at the pet store.”

Wife: “Honey, I put the vacuum cleaner nozzle through the 42-inch TV.” Planet Man resident: “No problem. Super-Duper Electronics Emporium has a sale on 100-inch models.”

Wife: “Honey, I forgot to buy coffee at the store.” Planet Man resident: “No problem. We’ll sell your grandmother’s jewelry that survived the Titanic sinking and buy a coffee plantation so we’ll always have a steady supply.”

However . . .

As even-tempered and understanding and patient and caring and loving as all men tend to be, there is a short list of things we will not tolerate. And by short, I mean one thing: Do. Not. Touch. Our. Stuff.

This is one of those unwritten rules that should be included in all marriage vows. Right there with all the crap stuff about love, honour, obey, blah-blah-blah.

“Back away from the Man Stuff” should be in the Constitution. And the Bill of Rights. I believe it’s already in the Magna Carta and will soon be added to the Geneva Convention. It’s even in the Bible, right there with all those covet commandments.

Dear Wife: You can boss me around, force me to watch Grey’s Anatomy, coerce me into giving you a back massage, elbow me into conversing with your mother and admiring your manicure without surrendering to the gag reflex, but my Stuff is out of bounds. Verboten. Yes, that does mean you. I have my lawyer on speed dial. Or I will as soon as I figure out how to work this damn cellphone. You haven’t seen the instructions around here anywhere, have you? No? Now, where was I? Oh yeah . . .

Each inhabitant of Planet Man has his own particular Stuff (also referred to as Invaluable Treasures). I, for example, possess books and magazines, Orange Monkey (don’t ask), my MacBook (love you!), the coffee machine and several items tucked under my side of the mattress. These are not to be touched by Viking Woman under any circumstances (unless, of course, she is standing inside our burning house and passing them out to me through an open window).

However, lest you think I’m being childish unreasonable, please note that she is allowed to touch my clothes, but only to remind herself there is actually carpet in the bedroom.

Due to a recent interest in food preparation, my Eternal List of Wonders (as it’s also sometimes known) has expanded to include certain items in the kitchen and pretty much everything in the pantry. The latter is also a perfect example of my organizational skills. Everything I need at that very moment is right at the front. Everything I don’t need right now is jammed into a dark corner somewhere.

It’s chaos but it’s MY chaos and I relish its wild, untamed nature. Or I did. Because, over a recent rainy weekend, Viking Woman and a visiting friend decided the pantry could use a bit of a tidy.

While I sulked read in the bedroom, they proceeded to pull everything out, rubbish those items whose best-by dates were achieved in the 20th century, and then place the purge survivors back on the shelves. They used a method they like to call “alphabetical.” Yeah, right. As if that’s real. Nice try. You can’t fool Planet Man with fancy words.

I look in the pantry now and feel violated. All the bottles and containers are upright or stacked. The cereal boxes stand at attention side-by-each. The baking supplies nestle together on one shelf, eagerly awaiting the spatula and a pre-heated oven. There are storage boxes filled with satchels of tea and hot chocolate, with tubes of sugar and envelopes of salt and pepper. The food wraps are all here. The sandwich spreads are all there.

It’s all so . . . so . . . neat.

And by neat I mean prissy. And by prissy I mean, oh, there’s the Smoked Paprika I haven’t seen since 2004. Hello, old friend. Meet potato salad.

Thanks honey! Um, I mean, don’t ever touch my Stuff again!

At least not until the next time I can’t find the Cajun Seasoning. I’m serious!

I’ve always been attracted to strong women. I like that they’re capable of making their own decisions in life and relationships. I like that they refuse to be dominated by idiots. Or dictated to by morons. That they take an equal role in decisions and choices and pathways. That they carry their own weight and pay their own way.

There is a down side to strong women, of course. They do not suffer fools lightly. And by fools I mean pretty much the entire population of Planet Man.

My first wife, having grown weary of my control-freak act (“You spent how much today?”), eventually punted my demanding ass to the curb. Looking back, I can only wonder what took her so long.

Viking Woman also has an intense personality, as you might have surmised by her nom de don’t-you-dare-use-my-real-name. And by “intense” I mean “willful” as opposed to, say, “bitch.”

She is opinionated about most things, but that’s OK — at least you always know where you stand with her. That may be in the corner, wearing the “Dunce” hat, but, hey, at least you know.

She’s never been a big fan of reality shows, but will sometimes sit through episodes of Survivor in an attempt to comprehend the thought processes of the lowest common denominator. And by that I mean anybody who doesn’t squat to pee.

That can be a good thing — at least we’re doing something together and in the same room, even if one of us is snorting in derision.

The bad news comes when she starts applying the rules of tribal council to the real world.

The Viking Woman Monologues:

“The women should vote off all the men because they don’t need them. And only keep the skanky women around long enough to lure the men to their doom and then punt the skanks as well.”

“Women would do a far better job of running the world. We don’t need men. We’d only keep a few around to donate sperm for the turkey baster. We don’t need the hunter-gatherer because women can do those things. We may not be as strong, individually, but a group of women can still lift an elk or a mammoth if need be. Women don’t feel the urge to see who can pee the highest or furthest. Take away the brawn and the penis, and what have men got going for them?”

“Men are a disappointment. You meet someone and you think they’re really neat, really awesome. And then the more you get to know them, the more you dislike them. The more of a disappointment they become. I have very little respect for very few men, I’m afraid.”

“Would the world be better without men? Oh, God, yes. I’ve often said that if the powers that be were all women, they could solve the problems of the world by sitting around having coffee and a chat. Men tend to piss on trees, trying to see who is the top dog.”

“Guys hate when they think a woman is better than them. Or smarter or has more capabilities. They can’t accept that, maybe, there might be a woman who is better than them. They get all insecure.”

***

Depending on your gender, after reading the above comments you’re either nodding with enthusiasm or fearing for my personal well-being.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I should be defending Planet Man against such dastardly accusations. And I should probably do that right now. Except I’m busy hiding under the house.

Man vs purse. Purse wins.

October 13, 2008

I am thisclose to escaping. I can see the light and I welcome it. OK, it’s actually several lights. In truth, it’s probably billions of lights, seeing as how we’re talking about the Las Vegas Strip at night.

But that’s the not the point. The point is that I am within 10 feet of exiting the Miracle Mile at the Planet Hollywood Hotel when I hear these fateful words of apocalyptic doom: “Oh look, PURSES!.”

A kiosk. A lousy, bloody kiosk. Not even a real store. The final kiosk in a long line of kiosks designed to lure the unwary consumer into parting with whatever leftover currency not already been fed into the slavering maws of ravenous slot machines.

I gaze longingly at the light ahead of me. So close I can smell the electricity. The margaritas. The exhaust. And then I close my eyes. Swallow hard. And turn.

I step away from the light.

I won’t bore you with details about the purses. They belong in that category of Women Things that those of us who reside on Planet Man have no desire to know about, no need to understand or comprehend. Gooey, yucky things like douches and tampons and breast pumps and yeast infections. Cooking. Vacuuming. Raising children. Figure skating. American Idol.

Mysteries of the universe — every single one of them.

A company called Miche flogs the purses and — here is that wonderful POINT OF DIFFERENCE ad men sell their own mothers to find — it’s actually several purses in one. That’s right — take a plain black shell, sew magnets inside, sew corresponding magnets inside what I can only describe as skins (each with its own distinctive colour and texture), put skin over shell until abovementioned magnets bond and — o the unbelievable joy of it all! — you have a “NEW” purse. Or at least a “different” purse.

Innovative as hell, apparently, this whole coverup trick. Although I can see no purpose on Planet Man for such an invention. Unless . . . Unless it’s in a Mission: Impossible kind of way. You know — if you could attach someone else’s sleek skin over your tired, bald, fat shell and become a “NEW” person.

I’d pick Brad Pitt. “Let’s play the Adoption Game, Angelina. I’ll be the naughty orphan . . . ”

While Viking Woman assures me this is ALL she wants to take home from Las Vegas (in the heat of purse passion she has somehow forgotten the three pairs of shoes purchased at the outlet mall), I glance over at Brother Number 2 for some Planet Man empathy.

He’s dialing his cellphone.

“Who you calling?”

“My wife.”

“Why?”

“I’m going to buy her one of these purses.”

“But you have no idea which of these ‘skins’ she’d like. Colour. Texture. Short strap. Long strap.”

“That’s why I’m phoning her.”

“But why would you — an inhabitant of Planet Man — buy a purse for a woman?”

“Because I’d like to have sex again before I die.”

“Good point.”

I turn to Viking Woman. “Take your time, honey. I’ll be over here applying CPR to my credit card.”

In summation, this is what I learned today: new purse + happy wife = sex.

Apparently there is room on Planet Man for Women Things after all.

Who knew?