C’mon baby light my fire

Bi-weekly columnist is again flummoxed by the opposite sex

Karen Haviland

Karen Haviland

Men! Sometimes I just have to shake my head. Someone should explain to them that the old axiom, ‘the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world’ is utterly and undeniably true.

Let me explain, and please excuse the convoluted way in which I get to my point. Just hang in there, okay?

When I was growing up, girls were taught in both very subtle and yet also extreme directness that our ‘job’ as a woman was to defer to men in all ways. In other words, our job was to cook, clean, raise the kids etc., while their job was to bring home the bacon and be the home handyman.

Fortunately for me I never subscribed to that line of thinking and often defiantly poked my toe over the line just to prove that I could. In fact, if you ask anyone who knows me well, they will likely tell you much hasn’t changed in that respect.

Revulsion to stereotyping has, for the most part, served me quite well. While I enjoy doing most womanly things, there is no better feeling than working out a problem that sits squarely in the men-only arena.

When cars were simple and not the computer directed beasts they are today, I took great pleasure in changing and gapping my own spark plugs. Go ahead guys, laugh. I know to most men that is standard fare, but for a female who was clearly taught to not step over the line, I considered it a huge accomplishment just as I considered changing oil and rewiring lamps a real coup.

It’s hard for me to wait around like a damsel in distress to be saved when there are times I can do it myself, thank you very much.

Here’s a case in point. My husband and I were camping with a good friend of ours, but much to our sadness a campfire ban was in effect. Our friends felt sorry for us and so loaned us their outdoor heater.

Wonderful! There was just one problem though; we couldn’t get it to ignite. More specifically, the men couldn’t get it to light. Try as they might the heater refused to cooperate. Of course it could have been due to a couple of problems. First of all, guys, it wouldn’t kill you to first read directions and, secondly, maybe you should have tried to sort out the problem before Happy Hour.

On second thought maybe it was a good thing it wouldn’t ignite-after all, trying to light a propane anything while a cigar is hanging out of your mouth is likely not a wise thing to do.

Being the good little woman I am, I quietly sat and let the men do their men thing and I swear to you it wasn’t until they gave up, I went over to the heater to see if I could give it a try. My turn!

At first they just sat watching me, eyes narrowed and lips pursed tight with angst that I just might get it lit. First things first; read directions. Check. Turn on the tank (righty tighty lefty loosey). Check. Turn knob to ignite. Check. Hold down for 30 seconds, check. Uh, not likely, it seems that before the 30 seconds was up one of the guys had to come over and frantically start clicking the igniter. Within seconds the second guy was crammed beside me assisting his friend in starting the heater. So much for girl power.

Without a word I turned away, sat down and proceeded to watch them not start the heater.

As I watched them I realized they were a real study in perfect manhood. Snicker, snicker. Somehow I’m glad I never got to finish my task because in doing so I allowed them to maintain their male identity. But I will shamefully admit I was also glad they never got the heater lit.