Archive for March, 2009

Male Pattern Blindness

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

To the best of my knowledge, my buddy LT and I created the word epiphanoid while we were in grad-school back in the day.*

What does epiphanoid mean, you ask?  Let’s start with the word epiphany.  Wikipedia defines epiphany as follows:

An epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something. The term is used in either a philosophical or literal sense to signify that the claimant has “found the last piece of the puzzle and now sees the whole picture,” or has new information or experience, often insignificant by itself, that illuminates a deeper or numinous foundational frame of reference.

Now epiphanoid as defined by me and LT–

An epiphanoid is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something while drunk.  But later, after you’ve sobered up, you realize that it really wasn’t that profound.

Add alcohol to two loquacious dorks and watch the epiphanoids fly!  We are still good friends and call one another to share our epiphanoids.  These days, our epiphanoids don’t much come from being drunk and chatty (but that helps).  Now they occur to us while driving or surfing (in his case) or whenever.  They often seem so stupid when we try to articulate them to one another, we still call ’em epiphanoids (rather then legitimate epiphanies), just to be safe.

Rather than bore just LT with my latest one, I thought I would share the pain with all the good people of the Internets.

So here goes:  I think I know why men can’t ever seem to find anything around the house.  The epiphany epiphanoid hit me about two weeks ago.  Cati had lost one of her earrings while getting into the car.  I got out of the car to search the ground while she searched the intererior.  I asked her to show me the earring she hadn’t lost so I would know for what to search.  Then it hit me.  Why did I need to see the other earring first?  Couldn’t I recognize the missing– or any earring– laying in the dirt, grass, snow, or driveway irrespective of having seen its twin?  Of course I could.  So why did I ask to see the earring as though it were a prerequisite to finding the other?  Because that’s the way guys look for things.  We think about what we are searching for, we visualize it, and then compare what we see to the image we have created in our heads.  Kinda like The Terminator– we snap a shot, compare it, and then decide “match” or “no match” and continue hunting (or stop if it’s a “match”).

I’ll often call out to Cati, “Where’s the toothpaste?” only to have her roll her eyes and point right to the blue Aquafresh tube right in front of my face.  I was looking for the red Colgate tube we usually have, hence– “no match.”  I think we guys do this without even realizing that’s what we’re doing.  Sometimes we register a “no match” for far more subtle reasons, like “the shoes were upside down,” or “the size of the sour-cream bucket was smaller than I was expecting.”  We are lousy at predicting the image for which we are hunting (anyone would be), and unfortunately, that’s built into our “finding software,” so we stink at finding stuff too.  Another wife-annoying artifact of us menfolk employing the “match/no match” technique to find things is that after a few rounds of “no matches” we conclude “it’s not here” based on what we perceive as several negative (and convincing) data points.  For Cati (and women in general?), looking for something is a sensory experience, she uses her eyes and explores where she is looking– rather than play “match/no match.”  Looking for something should be and open-ended inquiry of one’s surroundings, not a visual “true or false” quiz.

I have tried to break myself of my male pattern blindness, and I have had some (limited) success (we never did find that earring, though).  Seriously, I correct myself now after a few “no matches,” and I try to ignore my tendency to rule “not here.”  I try to clear the preconceived image of what I am looking for from my mind and just plain LOOK.  (Real novel, eh?  Now you see why we call them epiphanoids.)

I would call my buddy LT for some validation, but I can’t find my phone.  [CATI?!?!!]

Welp, if you didn’t find any of that interesting, I got more.  Did you know that Leonard Cohen was Canadian?  ‘Cause he is.  I just learned that myself a few days ago.  I always figured he crash-landed from the planet Cool.  Who knew?

That song still gets me– right here.  [pointing at the ol’ ticker]  

Canadia, I did not know you had it like dat.  [still shaking head in disbelief]

Thanks for tolerating my ramblings, folks.

*LT probably came up with the word all by himself, but whatever– Lennon-McCartney/McCartney-Lennon– details.  Who cares?