Vive La Difference

Betty and I laugh all the time about how differently we perceive some things, how differently we do lots of things. Many times it’s not us just laughing at ourselves, but laughing at the basic differences between women and men. I usually generalize the situation in an attempt to keep the heat off mysef by saying something like, “Well, you know us guys… beer, sex, cars and sports, not necessarily in that order.”

She usually smiles and says, ‘Vive la difference!”

But I Digress…

I started this week’s post with the intent of explaining how important order has become in my life. Yes, order, that phenomenon which occurs when things are, well, orderly, in their proper place, as it were. Good order is, for women, a matter of taste and perception as to where things should go, and when they look right being there. Good order, for most men, is a mythological state of mind about “where things should be” that was obviously invented by women and practiced by them…. And only them.

I am one of the countless numbers of men who have no concept of order. Well, actually that’s not quite true. I think most of us have our own concept of order, though we never call it that. It consists of setting a thing down when we’re finished using it, then simply remembering where we put it for the next time we need it. It works for us… except on those rare occasions when it doesn’t. The best example I could give you would be a very big garage in SW Montana, owned by Roger Williams. There is absolutely everything in his garage/shop that you can imagine – god I wish I had a picture of it to show you. Walking in to that shop, with the intent of finding anything, was always an overwhelming experience for me. With one foot in the door, I always thought, “Uh, never mind. There’s no way in hell I’m going to find some lag bolts in this incredible mess.” Yet, with a little time and a ton of patience, I usually would. And if Roger happened to be there, he’s say something like, “Sure. Over there in the corner,. There are seven little drawers in that workbench. You’ll find them in there.” And I would, after the five minutes it took me to fight my way through the crap to get to that workbench.

I know, I know. It’s a guy thing. My recording studios, however, had to be maintained with a certain order, as everything was connected to everything else, and dust and heat were the enemies of the old electronics. To have a studio work efficiently for long periods of time, it had to be orderly… wires bundled and wrapped together, out of sight, yet easily accessible. Orderly.


Work bench and tools in Montana garage
Toy storage

I took the value of order for granted in my studios and in a few of my cars. But in the rest of my life, eh, not so much. I’m a guy, after all, and like Roger, I usually remember where I left something, even if it wasn’t in its ‘proper’ place. Have to admit, however, that I had to put my Montana garage in order, as I had too many tools and too much other stuff… snowmobiles, 4-wheelers, kayaks, an old truck… you know, the important stuff. Because, see, it’s FUN being a guy, and not being nailed down to a ‘right way’ of doing things. Perhaps the ‘art’ of leaving things around and then having to go look for them later is, well, a somewhat creative exercise for us. And yes, I hear some of you laughing. That’s okay, we’re guys and that’s what we do. And it’s not our fault, really… it’s a genetic miscue that we’ve managed to make into a positive, or at least a fun characteristic of our bad selves.

Having been married for 18 years, I’ve been aware of the need for order in a house, in a family. But never, never did I understand it on the level of your typical woman. Nope. Never. That is, until a couple of years back, when I was washing up in Betty’s and my bathroom, and kind of threw the towel back on the towel rack. I looked at it, it just didn’t look right. I looked at the other towels. They were folded properly, a la Betty Ann, and they did look right. Strange. And now my recently-used towel looked out of place, hanging there all ramshackle, cattywhampus, rumpled and wrong.

What was happening to me?? Why now, after all this time of being perfectly content with disorder? Maybe I was coming down with something. In any event, I observed the other towels, then carefully folded my towel into the same shape and put it back on the rack. Better. Much better, in fact. Oh god, was this the sad and ugly beginning of a new neatnik… formerly known as me?

Yes. As it turned out, that was the beginning of my awareness of the importance (to me, anyway) of order. Order in a lot of things. The more I thought about it, the more examples I found for the necessity of good order… order in clothes, in our houses, in our garages, in our personal lives, even in music, and the other art forms. I finally realized, after seventy+ years of living, that order is, among other things, a physical manifestation of respect for the structure of the elements in this life that are important to us. Order is, also, a personal acknowledgement that we understand and appreciate the things we have, and that we care for them. Not only that, but order makes the process of building and creating easier, smoother. And yeah, I was definitely coming down with something.

Now just to be clear, I’ve known forever about structure, about the importance of it in nearly all facets of life. Structure in music was taught from the very beginning,, and I understood it on every level. For most of us, it’s imperative to at least understand structure before we begin changing it or breaking it. I knew all that, but I didn’t really know the difference between structure and order. My bad, for it was to become important.

Later on, it was equally disturbing to realize that women have known all this forever, while most of us guys have been clueless, partly because we didn’t care, partly because our male egos don’t allow us to think on anything delicate, and partly because we are, after all, just guys. But I began wondering about how many other aspects of this life women might seem to be way ahead of us. I started coming up with stuff right away, and quickly realized that this line of thinking and wondering was depressing, self-defeating, even dangerous. And so I stopped. Just in time, I think.

I’ve known of some of the differences between women and men forever… my dad, and all the men of his age had numerous jokes about those differences, usually to the detriment of women. As little boys back then, we took it all for granted, mostly believing all that funny stuff that men always laughed about. Here are just a few –

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
 A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
 A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

Married men live longer than single men – but married men are a lot more willing to die.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t.
 A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change & she does.

A woman has the last word in any argument.
 Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

And there are more –

There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works. 
- Will Rogers

Scientists now believe that the primary biological function of breasts is to make men stupid.
- Dave Barry

The only reason I’d ever get a sex change operation is to see what it’s like to be right all the time.
- Brian ‏@JustASmirk

Now ladies, give me a moment here. You would expect me, a guy, to have a bunch of women jokes, right? I mean, I grew up with this stuff. But my feminine side demands to know if women have even bothered to make jokes about men. You’d think they must have, at some point. And sure enough, a search pulled up some dandies. Unfortunately, I didn’t think they were very funny…

Of course women don’t work as hard as men…
They get it right the first time.

What do you call a man that lost all of his intelligence?

How can you tell if a man is lying?
 You can see his lips moving.

Why do men need sports action replays 30 seconds after the event? 
Because they’ve forgotten what happened.

What do you instantly know about a well-dressed man? 
His wife is good at picking out clothes.

What does it mean when a man is in your bed gasping for breath and calling your name?
 You didn’t hold the pillow down long enough.

Why do men like smart women?
 Opposites attract.

What is the one thing that all men at singles bars have in common?
 They’re married.

What is the difference between men and women?
 A woman wants one man to satisfy her every need. A man wants every woman to satisfy his one need.

What’s the smartest thing a man can say? 
“My wife says….”

Men are like…..Lawn Mowers.
If you’re not pushing one around, then you’re riding it.

Why did god invent men?
Because vibrators can’t mow the lawn.

“Men are like fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and it’s our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you’d like to have dinner with.”

Actually, some of those are pretty good, and worse, most of them are true, at least to a point. But what does any of that mirth and playful merriment have to do with order? Yeah, that’s right, order, Steve. Remember? That’s what you started out to write about. God, talk abut a digression… and my only excuse is that every time the subject of the differences between women and men arise, my knee-jerk response is the humor about it that I grew up with, Bless him, my dad was one of the worst… he had a great sense of humor and never missed an opportunity to make a joke or two about our differences. Thanks for a thousand laughs, Popper, but now I have to clean all that up! Dad’s nickname for Mom was “the growl box.”        ‘Nuff said.

As I was saying earlier, shortly after B and I began living together, I started noticing how everything in her home was put away. For some reason, it really struck me. Noticing it more and more, I began to realize I liked it! Her entire home was so well taken care of, and though it should be embarrassing to me to admit it, I was finally realizing it for the first time… I really liked the order in B’s home, and appreciated it! Don’t you dare tell her, but I still do, to this day! I even see a time in the near future where order will come to my workshop in the garage. Yes, Dorothy, miracles can still happen, even if we’re not in Kansas anymore!

Steve Hulse


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