by Julia Buckley
Since fall is approaching, my family must begin talking about whether or not to take a fall trip--some long weekend away which would allow us to march through autumn leaves and find inner peace. (Or just to eat lots of food and argue in a more beautiful atmosphere).
To me, traveling means endless lists, arrangements, decisions--and all for a couple of days of freedom. For example, we have five pets. Four of them (cats and a fish) can stay home and be tended by our nice neighbor--but one (our hyper dog) needs to be boarded so that he doesn't tear apart the house when we're gone. I need to make sure the home pets all have proper food and that the windows are open the right amount and no doors will slam shut and lock them into a room with no food or litter box.
I have other lists, too, that look like this: BOYS' PACKING; NECESSITIES; DIRECTIONS TO HOTEL and BACKPACK SUPPLIES; FINAL CHECKLIST; etc. Why do I make all these lists and agonize over them? Well, for one thing, if I didn't, no one would--I live in a house full of men.
I attended a lecture two years ago about the current research into the brain--primarily the differences in the way males and females learn and process information. Because the structure of the female brain is actually more complex than the structure of the male's, women are able to consider more possibilities in a given situation--hence the lists. Men's brains are streamlined. They make decisions. They say things like, "Here's how it is: period." Women, at least women like me, agonize over decisions forever because they can't always see which option is the best.
Ironically, this is one of the things experts say makes girls and boys of equal intelligence perform differently on multiple-choice tests. Boys will read the options, decide the answer is A, and mark A. Girls will read them, narrow it down to A and C, and then waste time worrying over which is correct.
It's not surprising, then, that women often take control of things like trips or parties, because they'll look aghast at their husbands and say, "But you're not considering this! Or this!" and the husbands will look back with bleak expressions, thinking "Here we go again."
It's biology that does this to us; knowing that, I made my lists of options and then gave them to my male family. "I came up with seven possibilities for our lodging," I said. "They all have different advantages. You decide."
And they will--in about one minute.