Thursday, April 18, 2013

Let's Not Mistake Laziness for Efficiency

In a house overrun by boys, I often find myself snickering at behavior that is inexplicable and bizarre to my female brain.  It's tempting to poke fun at things you don't understand. However, this week I realized the converse is true: A woman is just as likely to engage in behavior that is utterly absurd and pointless to the male brain.  For example, if you're a woman, you're probably familiar with the following type of image:

If you're a man, a little explanation may be required.  You see, there is a segment of the female population that enjoys creating virtual outfits like the above, and then sharing them with other women on sites like Pinterest or Polyvore.  Their fashion ensembles are often posted with pithy comments like: "Perfect outfit for a summer garden party!"  And, you must understand that no detail is spared on these compilations.  We're not talking about simply pairing a blouse with a coordinating skirt.  These women have scoured the Internet for matching heels, earrings, two choices of necklaces, a handbag that can double as a crossbody purse if you switch out the strap, sunglasses in case said garden party takes place at high noon, sparkly hairband for wind contingency, the precise hue of Revlon nail polish and lipstick to accent aforementioned hairband, lacy bra and panties intended to be worn under outfit, and a complementary perfume that smells like hibiscus.

This "hobby" is basically the modern day, adult version of playing dress up with paper dolls.  Why a grown woman would spend hours of her life putting together outfits for non-existent future social engagements is completely beyond male comprehension.  Men don't plan what they're going to wear the next day, let alone next month to a hypothetical garden party that may or may not take place in a field of hibiscus flowers.

The way a man picks out clothes is very simple.  He walks into his closet and figures out what's clean, often by using the "sniff test," as we call it in my house.  (If there is nothing clean, he sifts through the dirty laundry pile to find something that doesn't make him wretch.)

My husband has distilled this process down even further by wearing only black shirts and jeans.  And whenever he finds jeans that fit, he buys several pairs of the exact style.  This way, he doesn't have to waste time thinking about what color he should be wearing on a Tuesday versus a Wednesday.

"Don't you ever worry that someone thinks you're wearing the same thing you wore the day before?" I asked him one night.  "All your black shirts look the same to me."

"Haven't you heard that Steve Jobs wore the same thing for twenty years?  Black turtleneck, jeans, sneakers.  Mark Zuckerburg always wears a grey hooded sweatshirt, even when he meets with Wall Street investors.  These are guys who have better things to do with their time than think about what to wear.  That's what I call efficiency."

My boys are already adopting this predilection for "efficiency", if you can call it that.  For example, a few months ago, the older two boys decided they could save a whopping ten minutes in the mornings by going to bed wearing their school uniforms.

"We can't let them sleep in uniforms," I told my husband, when the idea first came up.  "Doesn't that encourage them to be lazy?  They might grow up always looking for short cuts in life."

"If it saves me time getting them ready for school," he replied, "I'm all for it."

With a decisive vote of three to one, I was quickly overruled.  Apparently, there is a fine line between laziness and efficiency that my female brain cannot appreciate.

Which brings me back to my original point on how much time women spend thinking about what to wear.  Maybe the household majority is onto something here.  After all, I waste a lot of time admiring fancy dresses that I can't imagine myself ever wearing in real life.  I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to the pin-tucked and lace-embellished frocks featured on "Downton Abbey".  However, the truth is that I hardly wear dresses, not even the simple, unadorned kind.  So, why do I bother browsing for a pale yellow number that reminds me of what Lady Mary wore to the cricket game in Season Three? 

Perhaps I can learn a thing or two about "efficiency" from the men in this houseI mean, it's not like I can't appreciate the difference between laziness and efficiency in other areas of my lifeI'm all for saving time when it comes to cooking dinner or cleaning the hardwood floors.  Am I lazy for making spaghetti again this week?  No way, mister, that's what I call... efficiency!   

Or maybe I should just throw my own garden partyIt wouldn't have to be that girly.  The boys could play cricket in the backyard.  I could dress them up in
fancy sweater vests and white knickers, and I could wear a wide-brimmed hat decorated with cream-colored satin gardenias.  I wonder if Anthropologie sells a pair of ballet flats that would match such a pretty hat.  Maybe if I just take a peek on Pinterest...