The inexplicable mindset of men


My expat friend Julia had to go out of town for several weeks on a family emergency and was surprised to return and find a veritable mountain of laundry waiting for her. She’d expected laundry, of course, but commented that she had never realized that her husband Fred owned so many clothes. Turned out that when she left, he hadn’t. But as he ran out of clean clothes, he just kept buying more. Weeks of more.

I laughed at this story because it’s just such a guy thing to do. I e-mailed back that I thought this topic would make a great column about The Inexplicable Mindset of Men and did I have her permission to include this incident?


The response was instantaneous, even from the eight-hour time difference in Paris: “Do me a favor. Make Fred the focus.”

Well, I would, except that Fred just has so much company. My former husband, who had a penchant for losing things, had a similar philosophy to clothing. Why stress about where your bathing trunks are? Just buy 12 pairs. I might have been more impressed by this strategy had he ever been able to find any of them.

I put all of this under the heading of Useless Guy Tricks. The useless refers to the guy, not the tricks.

It is well documented that the sexes are doomed not to understand each other. But as one who has lived in a male-centric household all her adult life (two husbands, two sons, one male dog), weird behaviors of the male of the species has always been a topic of keen interest, if total bafflement, to me. In some cases, one can only include that a wife is so much cheaper than a conservator.

Interestingly, my second husband, Olof, has surprisingly few Useless Guy Behaviors, possibly the result of having been single for so long after his first marriage. But like all men, he is indelibly afflicted with guy-gene-pool-embedded Passive-Dependent Blindness: you know, where a person of the male persuasion is standing in front of an open refrigerator with the mayonnaise dead center at eye level and says, “Do we have any mayonnaise?”

Analogous to that is the universal male phenomenon of Ineffective Circular Search Behavior.  When men lose things, they will look in three places. If they don’t find it, they will continue to look in those same three places in an endless pathetic futile loop. I can only assume this is something that developed in the cave-dwelling area and became hopelessly locked into male genes.  The cave wife would watch her guy circling the cave in increasing frustration looking for his club before she would step in and ask the question that became indelibly embedded in ours: “Well, where did you last see it?” He grumbles, “How would I know? If I knew that, I’d be able to find it!”

As she suspected, he left it outside the cave after he slew the mastodon. (Can he ever put anything away after he finishes using it?) She retrieves it. But does she get thanks? Not a chance.



Be relevant, respectful, honest, discreet and responsible. Commenting Rules