Of Major Appliances and Affirmative ActionWe've not slept well. We had a minor car accident last night. We've had to buy a new clothes dryer. We woke up and Scooter Libby's lying, crapweasel ass hasn't been fired yet. There are numerous and sundry reasons why we are in a foul mood this morning, this is the story of one of them.
Mrs. Poobah and I bought a new clothes dryer this weekend. The old one crapped out as we were preparing for a trip back to Maine for a funeral. Now we don't know about you, but shopping for major appliances is not a major source of pleasure for us. It's right up there with dealing with car salespersons, emptying porta-potties, and, well, going to funerals. There are damn few ways you could make it a less pleasurable experience, but we've been truly blessed to find someone who could.
Our appliance salesperson - note the non-gender specific terminology - was one very chatty lady. She admitted early on during our brief encounter that she had been married five times. At first, we weren't sure why this was germane to the purchase of an appliance, but we went along with the gambit just in case. We were also amazed at her Harriet Miers-like hair and eyeliner, but that's another story.
As we walked to the area with the dryers, she asked what we were looking for. The Poobah replied, "We don't need anything with a bizillion features, thanks." Chatty salesperson responded condescendingly, "Bizillion. That's cute. I don't think I've ever heard that number before. It isn't very specific, is it?"
The Poobah had exactly one omnipotent nerve left that morning and she was fast becoming the rabid pit bull that was chewing hungrily on it.
Upon arrival in the Land of the Expensive Appliances, she began demonstrating features - none of which she could explain past what appeared on the product cards attached to each model. Several times she explained features in ways that were possible only if Amana had managed to design by defying the laws of physics while concentrating mostly on features that were meaningless to the average consumer - "Oh look, this one has an easy open lid."
After several minutes of this wonderful banter - the Poobah asking questions while she ignored, obfuscated, or answered them incorrectly - and we dropped out of the conversation. Fearing we would be pushed to smite her mightily with our omnipotent powers, we preferred to let Mrs. Poobah - who has a higher tolerance for this sort of thing - handle the negotiations.
After several minutes Mrs. Poobah asked my opinion on which model I preferred. I said, "Either one is OK with me my Omnipotent Love Muffin. After all, I don't do the laundry, you do."
Chatty Lady took this as a sign not only of my masculine inability to do anything domestic, but also to imply the massive, general incompetence of the entire male population. She regaled us with many an example of men she knew who were incapable of tying their own shoes, much less doing high-tech tasks like washing clothes.
We hasten to point out that we were washing our own clothes for longer than we've been married to Mrs. Poobah and that we divide our household chores, with the Poobah doing nearly all the cooking, half the cleaning, and all the yard work and heavy lifting. True, we don't do it well, but not because of incompetence, just laziness.
This put us in mind of the whole affirmative action imbroglio and our place as a white male in it.
Chatty Lady, and for that matter a good many of the women we know, happily go around joking about what incredible louts and incompetents men are. We're sure even Brownie hears this from his wife, but in his case it may be true - although we have heard he whips up a mean quiche. In addition to these personal affronts, we are barraged with a bizillion - there, we said it again, HAH! - examples of rude behavior of women toward men.
Name me a sitcom where the man of the house isn't a complete boob. Show me a greeting card for women that doesn't allude to the fact that all men are assholes. Is there a woman's magazine on the continent that doesn't have at least one story along the lines of, Your Boyfriend is an Idiot and We Tell You How to Remake Him in Your Own Perfect Image? How many times have you heard a woman popping off about what shits men are in one breath while complaining that the women do all the work raising the kids? Newsflash ladies...if you are truly in charge of raising the kids, why do you keep raising ill-equipped, moron, shit-head sons? Exhibit A, Barbara Bush.
This behavior usually makes us reflect on this - if men went around doing things that were even marginally as insulting and degrading as what you do to us, we wouldn't get a little chuckle, we'd be saddled with a bizillion dollar lawsuit - there, I said it again. Double-HAH!
Now some might argue that white men should be used as the butts of jokes because, "they hold all the power". Tis true that white males may not have the same problems of an Eskimo-lesbian-wheelchair rider, but we're damn short of having all the power. Hell, we're omnipotent and we can't even get a job, even if it pays women more.
So let's consider this - affirmative action is a good and useful thing. It helps level the playing field, addresses many historic wrongs, and forces people to work together rather that pissing on each other - but it isn't a zero sum game. While we don't begrudge you your legal protections and legs up, remember that everyone gets screwed in one way or another. Maybe not in the same way as a descendant of slaves or a woman who makes less that a man - but in some other way to be sure. Life is an equal opportunity screwer. It ain't fair. It ain't pretty. It ain't right. But, it is life in this world.
So ladies, next time you want to say something crass to your boyfriend or to an innocent large-appliance purchaser, remember they have feelings too.
Oh wait, that can't be right. Oxygen tells me so.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, October 17, 2005