Musings on Life, Love and Leftovers

Archive for the tag “pink and blue”

It’s A Guy Thing

My husband, Nick and I have lots in common. We share the same religion. We’re voting for the same candidate for president. Jeopardy and Blue Bloods are must-see TV. We parent three adult sons and spoil a beautiful granddaughter together.  For sure, he’s the man I want bringing me a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates on February 14.

But over the years, I’ve noticed that our personalities collide, a lot. Nick likes westerns. I prefer comedies. I’m a diehard Steelers’ fan. He’s Bolts all the way. My car radio is set to R&B, his to classic rock. I like cake. He’ll take pie.

Nick was born in Newark and I’m from a little town near Pittsburgh. I used to wonder if that was the root of our differences. Then I thought, maybe it’s because I’m the youngest of four and Nick is the seventh of nine. Or perhaps it’s because I have brown eyes and his are blue. But the realization of a simpler answer trumped my earlier theories — men and women are different. When I was playing with Barbies, Nick was setting up his Hot Wheels track. When he was being introduced to Barbasol, I was learning about mascara.

shutterstock_97121432About three weeks ago, our contrasting preferences became even more apparent when I invited him to go shopping at the mall. I figured that our trip would take up most of Saturday afternoon and part of the evening. Nick was planning on a 30-minute outing (travel time included).

Not only do Pinks and Blues clash when it comes to how long a shopping trip takes, we’re oceans apart about what we want to shop for. Ogling the latest in barbecue accessories or scoping out bug spray in Home Depot is Nick’s idea of the ultimate buying expedition.

For me the mark a successful mall visit is finding the perfect pair of shoes – no matter how long it takes. Before I became a wife I thought that everyone loved shoe shopping. Nick has since taught me that if you circle Male instead of Female on credit applications, you probably don’t consider footwear as a personal fashion statement.

About an hour later, from across the winter boots display, my husband sent a pained look my way. I was veering into the purse department. Of course there was a basketball (football, baseball, soccer, golf, hockey, curling, bowling) game waiting for him on TV at home  and I suspected that he’d rather be watching a 6-foot-6 dude take 3-point-shots instead of discussing the merits of pebbled leather. Or giving his opinion about which looks better, the hobo bag or the tote? What he really wanted to say is: “Don’t you have a dozen purses in the closet already? Pick one of these and let’s get home before the third quarter ends.”

Men and women are on shaky ground when it comes to problem solving too. Women understand that sometimes all you need is a listener who nods supportively and mutters “Hmmmm” at suitable intervals. Just because we pose the question, doesn’t mean we’re looking for the answer. Men, on the other hand, are programmed to fix things — here’s the problem, here’s the solution, end of story.

This is where my husband shows his royal blue streak. His problem-solution skills are right up there with some of the greatest minds of his gender — Einstein, FDR, Knute Rockne. But after this short discussion outside the dressing room, Nick won’t be so quick with the answers anymore:

“Boy, I don’t like the way these pants look,” I said modeling them for him.

“They are a little tight,” Nick observed. “How’s your diet going?”

“Slowly. Why are you asking?”

“Because you said you didn’t like the way your pants fit.  You could always do what your friend did and try liposuction.”

“I didn’t say they didn’t fit. I said I didn’t like how they looked. I don’t like this khaki color.”

“Ohhhhh, ” he sheepishly replied.

I’ll leave you to imagine the rest of conversation, but you can be sure that Nick will never again suggest liposuction to his bride. In his spare time, he’s now practicing variations of: “Claire, you look fabulous in whatever you wear.”

It’s true that I might be from Venus and sometimes Nick wishes he was on Mars, but after many years of marriage, we’re proof that opposites attract. It may be a girl thing and it might be a guy thing. But one thing’s for sure – thanks to an odd-colored pair of Capri pants, come next Valentine’s Day I’ll be getting a larger bouquet of roses. And that box of chocolates I told you about earlier, it’s certain to be a three-pounder.


A Girl, Four Guys & Football

shutterstock_113473264Around my house I’m outnumbered. I’m pink in a world of blue. Three sons, one husband. When everyone else stands up, I’m sitting down. I’m the only girl in a house full of guys, and it’s lonely. No one to show new shoes to. No one to care about a bra sale at Kohl’s. No one to share clothes with.

So how does a lone girl even the playing field when she lives with four guys? By picking up her game. Her football game, that is.

With my days bombarded with ESPN (the TV station and the Magazine), I learned quickly how to be in with the in-crowd. And with this crowd, you have to know football. That’s why I chime in on discussions about a team’s defense or chances for a Wild Card bid as though I were sharing my recipe for Cheeseburger Soup. I throw words like depth-chart, Wing T and free safety around with apparent abandon. Someday I hope to actually learn what they mean.

The real test of fitting in with these guys comes in the mastery of the Fadden Football Pool, known around here as the FFP. Each week we predict the outcome of the week’s football match-ups.  It’s a simple contest with simple rules: Someone, usually my husband, Nick, cuts out the odds board from the sports page of the daily paper and tapes it to the official FFP clipboard. The rest of us take turns writing our prognostications on the official FFP tally sheet.

We’ve enjoyed this light-hearted family rivalry for 20 seasons. Starting in late August through the January playoffs – even when a son was away at college and had to phone in his choices or someone has the flu — one thing can be counted on, the FFP.

With player names like Daddray, MegaMom, SonicShawn, Jakeman and $ethMoney, the gloves are off each week to have your moniker posted as the winner. Luckily for me, a few years ago, the gender scales were rebalanced slightly, with the addition of RedGhost and CaptainScallywaggs. Come game time, any one of us can be found holding the clipboard where the prediction sheet is secured. In the other hand, a yellow marker ready to highlight the winning teams.

Here we’ve found a common ground — girl and boy alike. Mastering the FFP takes the perfect blend of football smarts, a sense of humor and a whole lotta luck. It doesn’t matter if your cologne is Windsong or Aramis.

With 32 teams and 16 match-ups most weeks, the total number of wins possible varies during the season. There have been weeks when I’ve been crowned champion before the Monday Night Football coin toss. There have also been times when my win total was less than my shoe size.

Each Sunday, we gather in front of big screens to watch the players, listen to the commentators and make a few comments of our own. As I claim my seat in the recliner, water bottle in one hand and a bag of Scoops tortilla chips in the other, I’m hoping that it will be my name emblazoned as the week’s winner.

But winning isn’t what matters. I’ve already won because I love the camaraderie I share with Nick, and my sons, Shawn, Jake and Seth. They don’t want to spend time scrap booking. My requests to go to afternoon tea have fallen on deaf ears. No takers to join me for a pedicure.

But just mention the football pool and we chat up a storm. Not knowing if Green Bay’s punter has a pulled groin or Atlanta’s quarterback is out for the week, I still manage to fake conversation with the best of ‘em. Just because I’m outnumbered doesn’t mean I have to be outsmarted.

Nike turf or natural grass, we’ve found a common ground and it’s green with white lines. Just perfect for a pink girl in a blue world.

Color Coded

shutterstock_293178716Pink is for girls. Blue is for boys. Or so we’re told, but in an ever-evolving color-neutral society, even the toy world gets caught in controversy. Recently the makers of the Easy Bake Oven reassessed their color scheme. It didn’t matter that for five decades famous chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay overcame pink and purple play ovens to find success in their careers. Today, chef-hopefuls of either sex, eager to improve their novice cooking talents, have a palate of hues including blue, black and silver—to choose from when buying the iconic oven.

As a young girl, I didn’t own the once light-bulb heated range that now looks more like a microwave. I never bought one for any of my children, either. In fact, as a young mother, I never placed tea sets, glitter lipstick or even training bras in my shopping cart. But if you need advice on where to get the best deals on trading cards, athletic supporters or wiffle ball bats, I’m your girl.

As mom to three sons—Shawn, Jake and Seth, there’s not much pink in my home. From the time the oldest was in diapers, my house was strewn with soccer balls, dump trucks and building sets. There were no ribbon dance wands, dream houses or stuffed pandas tucked into corners of my family room. Naively, I lived through my thirties without ever trudging down the all-pink Barbie aisle in Toys ‘R Us. Too much time spent in the Hot Wheels section, I guess.

I would envy mothers who could french braid their daughter’s hair, spend time shopping for ballet slippers and attending jewelry design class. While those women were splurging on pedicures, I was digging rocks, pogs and unidentifiable gooey substances out of my sons’ jeans pockets.

There’s an upside to being the queen of the house, though. I was among the first subscribers to ESPN the Magazine, before most people even knew the sports publication existed. I can list eight ways a baseball player can get to first without getting a hit. (In case you’re interested: walk, hit by pitch, error, catcher interference, fielder’s choice, obstruction, dropped third strike—either wild pitch or passed ball). Not so long ago, I readily named all the characters in the “Thomas the Tank Engine” series. In a pinch, I could probably still come up with ten or so. I can hold my own in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em.

Even in an evolving world where opportunities for both sexes continue to even out, mothers know their sons and daughters see things differently. Their interests, tastes and preferences vary from the TV shows they like to their choices of what to wear to school – jeans and a t-shirt vs. lacy tops and leggings.

Whether you live on the pink or blue side of the fence–or if your family contains representation of both–it’s tough mingling the two. The harder job may be teaching boys growing up in an all-guy household how to treat women and in an all-sister home, teaching girls how to relate to boys. My sons love their girl cousins and their friends’ sisters, their first contacts with the other side. Still, it’s not the same as living with a female relative, other than mom. (Mom’s not really a girl anyway.) No tiaras and doll babies were crammed in the toy closet alongside the trucks and car tracks. My sons didn’t have tubes of mascara, lipstick or a curling iron crowding the bathroom countertop.

They learned from their parents that pink or blue didn’t equal weak or strong. It wasn’t unusual to for my fellas to witness me fixing sticky doors, replacing the car’s broken sun visor or digging out an overgrown honeysuckle bush. Their dad throws in a load of laundry, cooks his Sunday morning breakfast scramble and moves my yoga mat aside without so much as a whimper.

A balanced life uses every shade in your paint box. My sons know it doesn’t matter who does the shopping, the cooking or the cleaning as long as the work of the family is accomplished well and with love. Chicken casserole, frozen pizza or chocolate chip cookies taste just as good in any color oven, not matter who’s doing the baking.

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